Aletho News


BP Penalized for False Reporting on Tribal Lands

US Department of the Interior – 06/30/2010

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) announced that BP America Inc. has been assessed a civil penalty of $5.2 million for submitting “false, inaccurate, or misleading” reports for energy production that occurred on Southern Ute Indian Tribal lands in southwestern Colorado. The civil penalty announced today is not related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It is simply unacceptable for companies to repeatedly misreport production, particularly when it interferes with the auditing process,” said BOEM Director Michael R. Bromwich. “We are committed to collecting every dollar due from energy production that occurs on Federal and American Indian lands, and accurate reporting is crucial to that effort.”

Bromwich praised the work of Southern Ute Tribal auditors who initially discovered the errors during an audit and which the Tribe first brought to BP’s attention August 2, 2007. The Tribe’s audit was conducted as part of a cooperative agreement with BOEM’s Minerals Revenue Management program (MRM). The Tribe was instrumental in documenting the ongoing errors.

Bromwich’s sentiments were shared by Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Matthew J. Box. “The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the MRM have had a highly successful 25-year-long audit relationship,” Box said. “Over the years, this relationship has yielded significant benefits for the Tribal membership. One of the more important aspects of the audit program is to encourage oil and gas companies to accurately report the Tribe’s royalties to the MRM.” Box added, “I appreciate the MRM’s recognition of its trust responsibility to the Tribe by assessing civil penalties when other means have failed to attain correct and accurate reporting.”

The Southern Ute Tribal auditors and MRM found that BP reported incorrect royalty rates and prices for royalty purposes, and reported well production on leases other than those to which the production is attributable.

After receiving audit issue letters and an order, the company agreed with the auditors’ concerns and repeatedly promised to correct the problems, which they attributed to errors in their automated files.

As part of its investigation, MRM and Tribal auditors examined later production reports to determine if BP had resolved the issues, as it had agreed. Bromwich said the same reporting errors were found in the later reviews, “leading us to conclude that BP’s continued submission of erroneous reports was knowing or willful.”

Bromwich said the total civil penalty is $5,189,800 through May 15, 2010. The company may challenge the civil penalty assessment through a Department of Interior hearing procedure.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Deception | 2 Comments

Pressure on Iran ‘over Palestinian issue’

Press TV – June 30, 2010

Iran’s Parliament speaker says the existing Western pressure on the country has its roots in the stance adopted by the Tehran government on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Speaking in a meeting with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal late Tuesday, Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the ongoing pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program as politically motivated.

He went on to explain that based on information disclosed by a foreign minister from a country which is a permanent UN Security Council member, if Iran makes a compromise with the West over the Palestinian issue, all pressure will be eliminated.

“Our main problem with you is not over your nuclear dossier. Even if Iran builds a nuclear bomb, we won’t have any problem with it,” Larijani quoted the unnamed foreign minister as saying.

“Our problem with Iran is over the Palestinian-Israeli issue and should we reach an agreement on that we will have no problem with Tehran,” he added.

The Iranian Majlis speaker went on to say that the US has always been exerting pressure on Iran, explaining further that such measures will be to no avail as the Islamic Republic would continue with its nuclear activities.

Larijani made the remarks in reaction to recent US unilateral sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors which came in the wake of the fourth round of Security Council sanctions against Iran’s nuclear activities.

The United States along with its Western allies have been accusing Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program. Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, rejects the allegation, arguing that its nuclear activities are under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Speaking in another meeting with Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Movement Ramadan Abdullah Shalah on Tuesday, Larijani said efforts to break the three-year siege of Gaza are the most essential matter in the campaign for supporting the impoverished people of the Palestinian territory.

“Today, the human rights advocates are facing a major test and that is to show how genuine their support for the Palestinian people is,” Larijani said.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 3 Comments

West Bank poverty ‘worse than Gaza’

June 30, 2010

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports on how the poor pay a heavy price in the West Bank:

Children living in the poorest parts of the West Bank face significantly worse conditions than their counterparts in Gaza, a study conducted by an international youth charity has found.

The report by Save the Children UK, due to be released on Wednesday, says that families forced from their homes in the West Bank are suffering the effects of grinding poverty, often lacking food, medicine and humanitarian assistance.

The European Commission funded study found that in “Area C”- the 60 per cent of the West Bank under direct Israeli control – the poorest sections of society are suffering disproportionately because basic infrastructure is not being repaired due to Israel’s refusal to approve the work.

Homes, schools, drainage systems and roads are in urgent need of repair, but instead of work being allowed, families are being forced to live in tents and do not have access to clean water.

Restrictions on the use of land for agriculture have left thousands of Palestinian children without enough food and many are becoming ill as a result, the study found.

Conditions in Area C have reached “crisis point”, the charity said, with 79 per cent of the communities surveyed lacking sufficient food – a greater proportion than in blockaded Gaza, where the figure is 61 per cent.

The lack of proper nutrition is having a major impact on the health of children growing up in the area, with 44 per cent of those surveyed for the study suffering from diarrhoea, the world’s biggest killer of children under the age of five.

Many children living in such communities are showing signs of stunted growth, with the figure running at more than double Gaza’s rate, and more than one in ten children surveyed for the study were found to be underweight.

The report says that for many Palestinians, international humanitarian assistance is far harder to access in the West Bank than in Gaza, with almost half the households surveyed in Area C reporting that they had no access to foreign aid assistance.

Save the Children warned that with the blockade of Gaza dominating headlines in recent months, the international community risked forgetting the fate of the poorest communities in the West Bank.

“The international community has rightly focused its attention on the suffering of families in Gaza but the plight of children in Area C must not be overlooked,” Salam Kanaan, Save the Children’s director in the occupied Palestinian Territories, said.

“Palestinians in the West Bank are widely thought to enjoy a higher standard of living but tragically many families, particularly in Bedouin and herder communities, actually suffer significantly higher levels of malnutrition and poverty.”

The organisation called for Israel to immediately cease home demolitions and land confiscations in the West Bank and said the Palestinian authority should take “urgent action” to develop services and improve food security in Area C.

“Palestinian children cannot wait for the stalled peace talks between the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and the United States to find solutions to this crisis,” Kanaan said.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on West Bank poverty ‘worse than Gaza’

Jerusalem lawmaker detained; expulsion expected

Ma’an – 30/06/2010

Jerusalem resident and elected Palestinian official Mohammad Abu Tier was detained by Israeli police on Wednesday, and reportedly taken to the Russian Compound for questioning.

Former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs for the Palestinian Authority Khalid Abu Arafa confirmed the arrest, which he said was carried out near the official’s Sur Baher home, in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

According to a report in Israel’s daily Haaretz newspaper, police representatives will submit a request to Israeli courts on Thursday, requesting that the official remain in police custody.

Abu Arafah said that the move was in preparation for the execution of deportation orders okayed by and Israeli court last week. The orders would see Abu Tier stripped of his Jerusalem residency card and prohibited from accessing the city.

The former minister called the detention of an elected official “beyond the red line,” and said it demonstrated Israel’s willingness to expel all Palestinian leaders from the city, starting with Abu Tier, and the three other officials – including himself – who were elected in the 2006 Palestinian vote with Hamas.

An Israeli police source said Abu Tier was not part of a deal made by Palestinian Authority officials from Ramallah. President Mahmoud Abbas met with the four lawmakers on Friday, and following the meeting sources within the PA said a deal had been struck to ensure the lawmakers were not expelled from their native Jerusalem.

A second police source said Abu Tier would go before the Jerusalem court and be deported to the West Bank or Gaza.

Earlier reports said the four men would have to renounce their affiliation with the Hamas movement if they hoped to remain in Jerusalem.

Deportation orders had been handed down in 2006 when the four were elected, but were only handed out within the past months, following the activation of Israel’s military orders 1649 and 1650, which expanded the definition of infiltrator to any individuate living in an Israeli-controlled area without express permission by unidentified Israeli bodies.

Other PLC members targeted in the expulsion include Mohammed Totach and Ahmed Atoun. All four were given until July to leave Jerusalem.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Jerusalem lawmaker detained; expulsion expected

‘Biggest thing in farming for 10,000 years on horizon’

Dirtboffins argue for lawn-style perennial grainfields

By Lewis Page • The Register • 25th June 2010

Agro-boffins in America say that mankind could be on the verge of the “biggest agricultural breakthrough in 10,000 years”, as researchers close in on “perennial grains”.

At the moment, most grain grown around the world has to be replanted after every crop. Farming so-called “annual” grain of this sort consumes a lot of resources and is hard on the land, which is especially worrying as half the world’s population lives off farmland which could easily be rendered unproductive by intensive annual grain harvests.

“People talk about food security,” says soil science prof John Reganold. “That’s only half the issue. We need to talk about both food and ecosystem security.”

Reganold and his fellow dirtboffin Jerry Glover argue that perennial grain – in addition to not needing replanting, so saving on passes of farm machinery over the ground, fuel etc – would have a much deeper and more powerful root system than annuals, rather like a well-kept lawn. This would mean that it used water much more efficiently; and water is often a major issue in agriculture and its impact on its surroundings.

Other benefits of a deep perennial root system beneath farmers’ fields would be less erosion and better carbon sequestration. Perhaps most tellingly of all, such a field might need as little as 3 per cent of the fertilisers required by annuals. Not only are nitrate fertilisers energy-intensive to make, they are also prone to washing out of fields to pollute water supplies, kill habitats and cause other eco mischief. Perennial fields would also require much less in the way of herbicides to control weeds.

At the moment, perennial grains capable of matching annuals don’t exist. However, Reganold and Glover argue that they can be bred with sufficient effort: it’s purely a matter of resources put into research. It’s perhaps worth noting that there’s not as much obvious revenue in perennials for major agro firms as there is in some kinds of annuals – there would be no continual requirement for new seed.

The two researchers, and many colleagues in the business, argue that with enough development cash perennial grain could be available in less than 20 years – representing, in their view, as great a step forward in food production as the original shift by the human race out of hunter-gathering and into farming in the first place.

The assembled dirt experts have convinced the editors of hefty boffinry mag Science, where their arguments are presented (subsciption required for full text).


June 30, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | Comments Off on ‘Biggest thing in farming for 10,000 years on horizon’

Commission Head Requests Increased Powers in Flotilla Probe

By Circarre Parrhesia – IMEMC News & Agencies – June 30, 2010

Israeli daily, Haaretz, is reporting that Israel will impart the commission to investigate the massacre aboard the MV Mavi Marmara with greater authority, yet it still will not be allowed to question the soldiers involved.

Ya’akov Turkel, the former Israeli Supreme Court justice that heads the probe, informed the Israeli government that, with the restrictions imposed on the probe, he and his team would be unable to fulfill their duties.Channel 2 television is also claiming that Turkel threatened to resign.

The commission is to investigate whether Operation Sea Breeze, the codename given to the assault, was in accordance with international law, and whether the force used in the assault on the Mavi Marmara was to be deemed proportionate. The committee may not call witnesses and cannot conclude upon the actions of individual members of the operation.

Turkel’s desire is to turn the probe into a full judicial hearing, giving him the freedom to call witnesses and any documents relating to the incident, and wants to expand the panel to five members, instead of three, not including the international observers.

Turkel approached Israel’s Justice Minister, Ya’akov Ne’eman, who in turn discussed the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu. Haaretz also stated in their report that Netenyahu has also discussed the matter with Israel’s Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, with all agreeing that Netenyahu should formally consider the request.

At the time of writing no decision has been released to the press.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on Commission Head Requests Increased Powers in Flotilla Probe

NY police ‘beat up’ Iranian professor

Press TV – June 30, 2010

Professor Kaveh Afrasiabi

A US-based Iranian university professor and senior political analyst, Kaveh Afrasiabi, says he has been brutally beaten up by police officers in New York.

Speaking to IRNA on Tuesday, professor Afrasiabi explained about the unusual manner in which he was arrested, saying that he was handcuffed and sent to jail under the pretext that he had not paid his traffic ticket.

“While handcuffed I was pushed to the front. Then my head hit a metal rod and I was seriously wounded. I was then sent to the hospital in an ambulance due to severe injuries,” said Afrasiabi who could hardly speak.

After he was discharged from the hospital, the police took him to court where the judge ordered his release.

Afrasiabi said his arrest came over a traffic ticket which he had to pay 25 years ago.

Afrasiabi has taught political science at Tehran University, Boston University, and Bentley College. He has also been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, UC Berkeley and Binghamton University.

The Iranian professor, who is a former consultant to the UN program of Dialogue Among Civilizations, has appeared on numerous television talk shows, including Press TV, CNN, MSNBC and Al-Jazeera. He has also worked as a consultant to CBS’s 60 Minutes program.

He has also authored the book After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy and is a co-author of Reading in Iran Foreign Policy After September 11.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on NY police ‘beat up’ Iranian professor

Guess Who Wants to Kill the Internet?

It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to undermine American freedoms than Joseph Lieberman. Since 9/11, the Independent senator from Connecticut has introduced a raft of legislation in the name of the “global war on terror” which has steadily eroded constitutional rights. If the United States looks increasingly like a police state, Senator Lieberman has to take much of the credit for it.

On October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9/11, Lieberman introduced S. 1534, a bill to establish a Department of Homeland Security. Since then, he has been the main mover behind such draconian legislation as the Protect America Act of 2007, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and the proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of terrorism. And now the senator from Connecticut wants to kill the Internet.

According to the bill he recently proposed in the Senate, the entire global internet is to be claimed as a “national asset” of the United States. If Congress passes the bill, the US President would be given the power to “kill” the internet in the event of a “national cyber-emergency.” Supporters of the legislation say this is necessary to prevent a “cyber 9/11” – yet another myth from the fearmongers who brought us tales of “Iraqi WMD” and “Iranian nukes.”

Lieberman’s concerns about the internet are not new. The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs, released a report in 2008 titled “Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat.” The report claimed that groups like al-Qaeda use the internet to indoctrinate and recruit members, and to communicate with each other.

Immediately after the report was published, Lieberman asked Google, the parent company of You Tube, to “immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations.” That might sound like a reasonable request. However, as far as Lieberman is concerned, Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are terrorist organizations.

It’s hardly surprising that Lieberman’s views on what constitute terrorism parallel those of Tel Aviv. As Mark Vogel, chairman of the largest pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, once said: “Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions … is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman.”

Lieberman has been well-rewarded for his patriotism – to another country. In the past six years, he has been the Senate’s top recipient of political contributions from pro-Israel PACs with a staggering $1,226,956.

But what is it that bothers Lieberman so much about the internet? Could it be that it allows ordinary Americans access to facts which reveal exactly what kind of “friend” Israel has been to its overgenerous benefactor? Facts which they have been denied by the pro-Israel mainstream media.

How much faith would American voters have in the likes of Lieberman, who claims that the Jewish state is their greatest ally, if they knew that Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954 in an attempt to undermine relations between Nasser and the United States; that Israel murdered 34 American servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967; that Israeli espionage, most notably Jonathan Pollard’s spying, has done tremendous damage to American interests; that five Mossad agents were filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001; that Tel Aviv and its accomplices in Washington were the source of the false pre-war intelligence on Iraq; and about countless other examples of treachery?

In his latest attempt to censor the internet, does Lieberman really want to protect the American people from imaginary cyber-terrorists? Or is he just trying to protect his treasonous cronies from the American people?

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Guess Who Wants to Kill the Internet?

Bedouin Families Face Further Expulsions

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – June 30, 2010

The al-Quds Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights reported that some 40 Bedouin families in the al-Farsiyya area, in the northern plains of the Jordan Valley, received official notices from Israel ordering them to leave their areas.

The families have been living in the area for several decades having been previously forced out of another area, due to Israel’s illegal policies and the construction of settlements.

The Center said that the orders did not give the families more than 24-hours notice; an issue that would make it practically impossible for them to present the needed ownership documents or to appeal the decision.

The issue is similar to that which happened in al-Hadidiyya area, near the central West Bank district of Tubas ten days ago, with the Israeli army handing orders to 13 families forcing them to leave. The 13 families were the last of original 50 families that once lived in the area.

The Center described the orders as an act of ethnic cleansing, as Israel wants to replace them with Jewish settlers and to force them to live in isolated areas, similar to the actions of the white National Party during apartheid in South Africa.

It also said that it is trying to appeal against the decision, and appealed to other human rights and legal organizations to intervene immediately in order to prevent the expulsion of the families.

The center also called on the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, to act on the regional and international levels in order to expose the illegal Israeli measures and to save the families.

In a previous report, the center said that 21 residents living in Majdal Bani Fadel village, 9 in Yitma near Nablus, 5 in Jinsafut near Qalqilia, 9 in Kafr Ed Deek, and two from Hares village near Salfit, received similar orders this month as the army intends to demolish their homes, hothouses and barns.

The center is currently representing the families in an attempt to void the illegal Israeli decisions that target the very existence of the Palestinians in their homeland.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Bedouin Families Face Further Expulsions

Obama’s Moral Bankruptcy Regarding Torture

By Andy Worthington – 29.6.10

Saturday was the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, established twelve years ago to mark the day, in 1987, when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment came into force, but you wouldn’t have found out about it through the mainstream US media.

No editorials or news broadcasts reminded Americans that “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture,” and that anyone responsible for authorizing torture must be prosecuted, and no one called for the prosecution of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld or their supportive colleagues and co-conspirators, including, for example, John Yoo, Jay S. Bybee and Stephen Bradbury, the authors of the Office of Legal Counsel’s “torture memos,” or other key figures in Cheney’s “War Council” that drove the policies: David Addington, Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney general, and William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s former Chief Counsel.

Instead, two mainstream newspaper articles revealed the extent to which President Obama has, over the last 17 months, conspired with senior officials and with Congress to maintain the bitter fruits of the Bush administration’s torture program — and its closely related themes of arbitrary detention and hyperbole about the perceived threat of terrorism.

In the first of these two bleak stories, “US to repatriate Guantánamo detainee to Yemen after judge orders him to be released,” anonymous administration officials told the Washington Post that the President had generously decided to release a Yemeni prisoner in Guantánamo, Mohammed Hassan Odaini, whose release was ordered last month by a judge in the District Court in Washington D.C.

As I explained in an article following the judge’s May 26 ruling, it had been publicly known since November 2007 that the government had conceded in June 2005 that Odaini, a student, had been seized by mistake after staying the night with friends in a university guest house in Faisalabad, Pakistan on the night that the house was raided by Pakistani and US operatives, and that he had been officially approved for release on June 26, 2006 (ironically, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture).

Nevertheless, the Justice Department refused to abandon the case against him, and took its feeble allegations all the way to the District Court, where they were savagely dismissed by Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. When the judge’s unclassified opinion was subsequently released, an even grimmer truth emerged: that shortly after Odaini’s arrival at Guantánamo in June 2002, an interrogator recommended his repatriation (after he had been exploited for information about his fellow prisoners), and that, in April 2004, “an employee of the Criminal Investigative Task Force (‘CITF’) of the Department of Defense reviewed five interrogations of Odaini and wrote that ‘[t]here is no information that indicates [he] has clear ties to mid or high level Taliban or that he is a member of al-Qaeda.’”

Odaini was not subjected to specific torture techniques, but there are many people — myself included — who are happy to point out to the Obama administration that subjecting an innocent man to eight years of essentially arbitrary detention in an experimental prison camp devoted to the coercive interrogations of prisoners who were deliberately excluded from the protections of the Geneva Conventions is itself a form of torture, especially as, unlike the worst convicted criminals on the US mainland, no Guantánamo prisoner has ever been allowed a family visit, and many have never even spoken to their families by phone.

Moreover, the fact that the administration proceeded with his habeas case, despite knowing that he was innocent, and then refused to release him as soon as the judge delivered his ruling, confirms that, when it comes to lawlessness and cruelty, the Obama administration is closer in spirit to the Bush administration than it cares to admit.

On Saturday, via its anonymous spokesmen, the administration confirmed how far it has fallen from all notions of decency. The officials explained that the moratorium on any releases to Yemen that was issued by President Obama in January, in response to cynical hysteria whipped up in the wake of the failed plane bomb plot involving a Nigerian who had reportedly trained in Yemen, “remains in place,” but, as one of the officials stated:

The general suspension is still intact, but this is a court-ordered release. People were comfortable with this … because of the guy’s background, his family and where he comes from in Yemen.

In other words, a mouthpiece of the administration told a major US newspaper that Odaini, a patently innocent man whose release was ordered by a US judge, and whose ongoing detention was cynically sought by the Obama administration, was only being released because government officials were happy about his family background (his father, it transpires, is a retired security officer).

I shouldn’t really need to explain to the government that it’s unconstitutional to detain an innocent man, even if his father happened to be Osama bin Laden rather than a security officer, nor to point out how it would appear if this vetting procedure were to be applied to the criminal justice system in general, but in Obama’s world it is apparently necessary to point out these basic facts.

The second story that arrived in time to cast a mocking light on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture — “Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority” — was published in the New York Times. Since President Obama failed to close Guantánamo by his self-imposed deadline of January 22 this year, the administration has failed to set a new deadline — and for a depressing reason, as Sen. Carl Levin explained to the Times.

“There is a lot of inertia” against closing the prison, “and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind their position that I can see,” Sen. Levin said, adding that “the odds are that it will still be open” by the next presidential inauguration in 2013.

Sen. Levin had no doubt that this failure had come about because of a lack of political will on the part of the administration, which contrasts sharply with the rhetoric of Barack Obama in August 2007, when he was still a Senator. On that occasion, he spoke compellingly about how, “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantánamo, we have compromised our most precious values. What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power.” However, since coming to power, as Sen. Levin explained, the administration has been “unwilling to make a serious effort to exert its influence.”

With a sharp eye for how principled rhetoric has not been followed up with any attempt whatsoever to persuade Congress of the importance of closing Guantánamo, Sen. Levin contrasted the administration’s “muted response to legislative hurdles to closing Guantánamo with ‘very vocal’ threats to veto financing for a fighter jet engine it opposes,” and added that last year the administration “stood aside as lawmakers restricted the transfer of detainees into the United States except for prosecution,” and also responded with silence just a month ago, when the House and Senate Armed Services Committees voted to block money for renovating a prison in Illinois to take the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo who have not been cleared for release.

“They are not really putting their shoulder to the wheel on this issue,” Sen. Levin concluded, adding, “It’s pretty dormant in terms of their public positions.”

“Dormant” is a good word, but something like “extinct” may be more appropriate, if, as Sen. Levin asserts, Guantánamo will still be open in January 2013. If that occurs, Guantánamo will have been open for 11 years, which doesn’t even bear thinking about. This is especially true because, as it stands now, nearly eight and half years after Guantánamo opened, the Obama administration’s refusal to take leadership on the issue, to drop its unacceptable moratorium on releasing Yemenis cleared by its own Task Force (and in some cases, like Mohammed Hassan Odaini, by the courts), and to abandon an unprincipled policy of continuing to hold men indefinitely without charge or trial demonstrates that senior officials, including the President, genuinely have no interest in bringing to an end a regime founded on torture and arbitrary detention. In most respects, their actions — or their inactivity — represent a ringing endorsement of their predecessors’ vile policies.

The “enhanced interrogation techniques” of the Bush years may have come to an end, but anyone doubting the baleful effects of long-term detention without charge or trial should recall what Christophe Girod of the International Committee of the Red Cross told the New York Times over six year and a half years ago: “The open-endedness of the situation and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem.”

That was in October 2003, and I dread to think what the mental state of some of those prisoners must be by now. The very thought that, two and half years from now, some of these men might still be held because the Obama administration doesn’t care enough to do anything about it cannot be excused for reasons of political expediency. Instead, it confirms that, in failing to bring to an end key elements of the Bush administration’s program of torture and arbitrary detention, the Obama administration has lost its principles.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison).

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment