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Neocons Triumphant in Washington and Geneva

It’s either 1938 or 2001 again

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 2, 2014

The forced resignation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and the continued prorogation of talks with Iran in Geneva might not seem to be connected but they are both major triumphs for the confrontational neoconservative foreign policy that continues to prevail in Washington in spite of repeated failures overseas. And, of course, they are both at least in part about Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his delight at learning that the negotiations with Iran have again failed to produce an agreement. It also pleased Senator John McCain who then called for “increased sanctions and requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval.” Per McCain, only the legislature can provide the necessary wisdom to avoid a bad deal with the Mullahs.

Hagel’s resignation is being packaged as response to excessive micromanaging from President Barack Obama’s White House regarding appropriate measures to be taken to “destroy” ISIS, deal with Syria and aid Iraq. In truth, Chuck Hagel was reflecting informed opinion among the Pentagon’s top ranking military personnel in confronting National Security Adviser Susan Rice over the chaotic and constantly shifting series of responses to a growing Middle Eastern crisis. Generals and Admirals may be pompous self-serving asses but they are not stupid.

Unlike Hagel, Obama’s inner circle national security team consisting of Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett are all cut from the same cloth as the president. They are academics who come from privileged backgrounds and have, as the expression goes, no skin in the game. Their children will not be dying in some hell hole and for them it is a self-serving complete abstraction to use American power to “fix things” and undertake “humanitarian interventions” overseas.

Chuck Hagel by contrast experienced Vietnam as a grunt and saw considerable combat, for which he was decorated. Even though he has most often gone along to get along while a Senator and even more so as Secretary of Defense, his life experience has nevertheless made him reluctant to view war as a first option and he was widely seen as a peace candidate when he briefly considered a presidential run in 2008. There were high hopes that when he joined the Obama team he would serve as a voice for reason and moderation.

Hagel is also partly a victim of Israel first policies. He was guilty of a mortal sin by saying when he was a Senator that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people on Capitol Hill” and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.” Since that transgression he has never been trusted by the Lobby, which was unsuccessful in blocking his nomination after pulling out all the stops during his confirmation hearings two years ago. As the approval of Hagel by the Senate was at that time widely viewed as a major defeat for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Robert Cohen, its current president, is probably smiling as he observes smugly that revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

So now Hagel is going, going gone, likely to be replaced by someone with whom both the neocons and the liberal interventionists will be more comfortable. That will almost certainly be an accommodating personality willing to uncritically join what Colonel Pat Lang has rightly described as the White House’s “children’s crusade.”

The fall of Hagel combined with the probability of a Congressionally-driven new, harder line from Obama sits well with some constituencies. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard puts it succinctly from his viewpoint of what is important, “America has the misfortune to have an anti-Israel president for two more years. America has the good fortune to have a pro-Israel Congress for that same period of time. It should be a priority for that Congress, through speech and deed, to signal unequivocally to Israel and its enemies that terror and pressure against Israel will not succeed, and that America stands with Israel in our common fight against terror and barbarism.”

The incoming Republican majority also appears to be wonderful news for the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which held its annual bash in New York City on November 23rd. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was the featured speaker, asserting that “threats to Israel have never been greater” while basking in repeated chants from the attendees of “Go Ted Go!” ZOA President Mort Klein labeled Hamas as a “Nazi like terrorist group whose charter calls for the murder of every Jew” before taking several jabs at Obama, describing the American president as “A Chamberlain in the White House.” Neville, that is. For Klein and other neocons it is always 1938 and we are always in Munich. Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel went one better, calling Obama the “most anti-Semitic president ever.”

And then there is Iran, whose alleged “interference” in Iraq apparently thwarted American plans to turn Baghdad into Stockholm. It is also reliably the perpetual “threat” used to justify any and all of Israel’s misbehavior. Given the gathering storm being summoned up by Israel’s friends, the Obama administration would have been well served by closing the deal with Tehran, but it failed to do so. The prolonging of the timetable for the talks in Geneva is not necessarily a death sentence, but it does give both time and the organizational advantage to Congress, which, with its new Republican majority, will almost certainly move to block or torpedo any agreement. If the friends of Israel can muster up the 67 Senate votes needed to be veto proof they will undoubtedly punish Iran yet again with sanctions, a move that will undoubtedly end any chance for a compromise. And even though the Republicans do not themselves control all the needed votes there are plenty of Democrats who love Israel inordinately and will likely vote with the GOP. Senator Elizabeth Warren, reliably progressive except when it comes to Palestine, has just had her first meeting with Netanyahu, an important ticket punch on her career trajectory if she wants to become president. She is not alone in doing her obeisance but will have to out-Israel Hillary Clinton, something that may not be possible.

But at the end of the day, the greatest neocon triumph is its continued grip over policy with Russia, which is the sole power in the world that can attack and destroy much of the United States. The confrontation with Moscow makes no sense as the only United States vital interest at stake is to maintain a good working relationship, but the tension continues to mount. State Department Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, who was the enabler of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year, recently showed up in Riga Latvia where she pledged that American soldiers and their European counterparts are “ready to give our lives for the security of these countries.” She was referring to the Baltic States, raising the rather serious question whether or not Americans should be prepared to die for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Nuland’s allusion to giving “our lives” should surely be regarded as poetic license on her part as the only way a neocon could possibly die tragically would be if he or she were to choke on a piece of foie gras. She surely understands but chooses to ignore the fact that Latvia is only part of NATO due to the unwise expansion of what was originally a defensive alliance after the fall of the Soviet Union. The expansion was itself a violation of the understanding between Moscow and Washington that the West would not take advantage of the situation to extend its sphere of influence into Eastern Europe. Latvia’s defense is in no way important to the security of the United States unlike the actual threat posed by the Warsaw Pact up until 1991. Indeed, Latvia was part of the Warsaw Pact back then. Protecting Latvia as a policy is all too reminiscent of the lead ups to both the first and second World Wars. In 1914, a series of mutual defense agreements led to armed confrontation after an Austrian Archduke was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. In 1939, Britain and France were drawn into a war with Germany after giving security guarantees to Poland even though they had no critical interests at stake. Sixteen million died in 1914-8 followed by an additional 60 million in 1939-45.

That the White House has fired a voice for restraint and moderation at the Pentagon is perhaps inevitable. That it is simultaneously increasing its combatant role in an unwinnable confrontation in Iraq and Syria which it helped create, is again taking on the Taliban in Afghanistan, has backed away from cutting a deal with Iran that would have eased tensions in a key part of the world, and is needlessly provoking Moscow for reasons that must be inscrutable to any observer is a bit difficult to grasp. And, of course, the package includes standing beside Israel right or wrong. But that is what being a neocon is all about, apart from never having to say you’re sorry. Or wrong. We’ve got that fine expensive military just sitting around and by God we are going to use it. And someday the whole world will look and behave just like Peoria.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Military’s Training of Mexican Security Forces Continues As Human-Rights Abuses Mount In Mexico

DoD Officials Claim Training is Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

By Bill Conroy | narcosphere | December 3, 2014

The U.S. government has spent more than $62 million since fiscal year 2010 providing highly specialized training to Mexican security forces, including some $16.3 million in fiscal 2013, as part of an effort to help Mexico better prosecute its war on drugs, records made public under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act show.

The spending has continued even as Mexico’s military and police forces continue to face accusations of pervasive human-rights abuses committed against Mexican citizens, leading some experts to question whether the U.S.-funded training is resulting in some deadly unintended consequences.

The news of the disappearance in late September of 43 students who attended a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa, located in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, has sparked massive protests in Mexico. The students were allegedly turned over to a criminal gang after being abducted by Mexican police and they remain missing. The police fired on the three buses transporting the students along a stretch of road near Iguala, about 130 kilometers north of Ayotiznapa, and the abduction was carried out near a Mexican military base, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Ayotzinapa incident was preceded by a lesser-known attack this past June during which Mexican soldiers killed 22 people inside a warehouse in Tlatlaya, 238 kilometers southwest of Mexico City. At least 12 of those homicides were deemed extrajudicial executions, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission [CNDH in its Spanish initials].

Last year, the Mexican government conceded that at least 26,000 people had gone missing, or been disappeared, in Mexico since 2006 — the year the war on the “cartels” in that nation was launched. Over that same period, INEGI (the Mexican State Statistics Agency) reports, there were some 155,000 homicides in Mexico, most with a nexus to the drug war.

The U.S. Department of Defense insists that the relationship it has with Mexican security forces is based on “trust and confidence and mutual respect” and is critical to helping to reduce the violence sparked by criminal organizations in Mexico.

The U.S. training, funded through the DoD and to a lesser extent the U.S. Department of State, encompasses a wide range of military strategy and tactics and is carried out at locations in the United States and inside Mexico. Among the course topics on the menu are asymmetrical conflict, counter intelligence, international counterterrorism, psychological operations, counter-drug operations and urban operations. The training is being provided to a broad spectrum of Mexican security forces, including the Army, Navy and the federal police, according to data provided to Congress under the requirements of the Foreign Assistance Act and is current through fiscal year 2013.

Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy with the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization promoting human rights and democracy in Latin America, says there is a lack of reliable public data on the fate of Mexican security forces after they receive U.S. military training.

“What happens to these trainees a year or two down the road after they are placed in areas dominated by organized crime?” Isacson asks. “We simply don’t have good after-training tracking of these people, and the amount they are paid can’t compete with the drug money. Plus, the risk of getting caught is small. The biggest risk for them isn’t jail, but rather running afoul of the drug organizations.”

From fiscal 2010 through 2013, U.S. military training was provided to some 8,300 members of Mexico’s security forces, according to Foreign Assistance Act data. That training is overseen by U.S Northern Command (Northcom), a Department of Defense branch created in 2002 that is responsible for U.S. homeland defense as well as security cooperation efforts with the Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.

Northcom officials contend that all Mexican security forces receiving U.S. training are well vetted and that data is maintained on all participants. The training is designed to compliment Mexico’s existing efforts to maintain security and stability in the country.

“We do not believe that U.S. military training enables corruption and human rights violations,” Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Marsh, spokesman for Northcom, says. “On the contrary, U.S. military members who provide training serve as positive role models, displaying professional values for foreign security forces to emulate. They conduct this training in strict accordance with the Leahy Law, which requires us to ensure individuals and units with whom we work are not involved in human rights violations.”

Still, in a country where fewer than 13 percent of crimes are even reported, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report, and where tens of thousands of murders and cases of disappeared individuals remain unresolved, it’s difficult to accept with certainty that the data maintained on U.S.-trained Mexican security forces is of much use in monitoring corruption. If human-rights abuses are not reported, much less investigated, then there’s nothing to track.

And even when abuses are probed, the conviction rates are anemic.

Mexico’s Military Prosecutor’s Office between 2007 and mid-2013 opened 5,600 cases into alleged human-rights abuses by soldiers, Human Rights Watch reports. Yet, as of October 2012, only 38 cases had resulted in convictions and sentences from military judges.

Mexico’s CNDH reported last year that Mexican security forces were suspected of playing a role in at least 2,443 cases in which people were disappeared. Human Rights Watch, in a study released last year, said it “found evidence that members of all branches of the [Mexican] security forces carried out enforced disappearances.”

“Virtually none of the victims have been found or those responsible brought to justice,” Human Rights Watch reports.

WOLA’s Isacson says there is no evidence at this point directly linking human-rights abuses by Mexican security-forces to U.S. military training, but adds that “the risk is huge.”

“Congress a few years ago required DoD to keep more records on trainees, but that information is classified,” he adds.

What’s lacking is quantifiable public data that can be used to assess the effectiveness of U.S. training of Mexico’s security forces or the human-rights track record of trainees after the training is finished. “That evaluation has to now be based mostly on blind faith,” Isacson says.

And in yet another wrinkle to the military-training issue, Isacson points out that the U.S. military is helping to fund Colombia’s export of military training to other nations as part of its security coordination with the South American nation. Colombia provided military and police training to more than 10,310 members of Mexico’s security forces between 2009 and 2013, according to a recent WOLA report that uses figures provided by the Colombian National Police.

“Some of this training was U.S. funded, although Colombia carried out many activities using its own resources, or that of other donors such as Canada,” the WOLA report states.“… Beyond official advertisements of the strategy and occasional, anecdotal press reports, little information is available about the extent and nature of Colombia’s training.

“While foreign aid law requires the United States to report to Congress in some detail about its own overseas training, these reports include no mention of U.S.-funded activities carried out by Colombian forces.”

The nature and sources of funding for Colombia’s exported military training may be opaque. But what is clear is that U.S. military training was provided to 4,486 members of Colombia’s security forces in fiscal 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of $32.9 million, according to the most recently available Foreign Assistance Act data. A good share of that training was in areas consistent with regional security operations, including courses in international counter-terrorism, advanced security cooperation, joint operations and international tactical communications.

The Colombian military and police training provided to Mexico’s security forces, Isacson says, is essentially a proxy arrangement, given the United States’ role in helping to fund and coordinate that training.

“Colombians trained 10,000 Mexicans with the help of U.S. money,” he adds. “Our main concern is the lack of transparency and controls.”

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

American, Georgian & Lithuanian get key jobs in Ukraine’s new government

RT | December 2, 2014

Natives of the US, Georgia and Lithuania were hastily granted Ukrainian citizenship in order to become key ministers in the new government of Ukraine, which was approved by the country’s parliament on Tuesday.

President Poroshenko has also announced he will sign a decree to grant citizenship to foreigners fighting on Kiev’s side in the east of the country.

Natalie Jaresko of the US, who currently heads the Kiev-based Horizon Capital investment fund, will take reigns at the Ukrainian Finance Ministry.

In 1992-1995, Jaresko served as the first Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Ukraine.

Before that she occupied several economic positions in the US State Department, according to Horizon Capital’s website.

The position of health minister went to Aleksandr Kvitashvili, who occupied a similar post in the Georgian government in 2009-2012.

“Ukraine spends 8 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, but half of this money is being plundered. Aleksandr Kvitashvili must implement radical reforms as he has no ties with the Ukrainian pharmaceutical mafia,” Ukrainian PM, Arseny Yatsenuk, said as he presented the new minister to the deputies.

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Alexander Kvitashvili, a candidate for head of the Ukrainian health ministry, at a session of Verkhovna Rada in Kiev (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak)

Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius has been approved as the economy minister by the new parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

Abromavicius, who is a partner at the $3.6 billion-worth East Capital asset management group, conducts his operations from Kiev after marrying a Ukrainian.

“There’s hard work ahead of us because Ukraine is a very poor and corrupt country and we’ll have to use radical measures,” he told MPs from the Rada Tribune.

288 out of 450 deputies supported the cabinet proposed by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, with the new ministers sworn in right after the vote.

“I congratulate the Ukrainians with the formation of the pro-European government,” Poroshenko wrote on his Twitter page.

He told the Rada that he views the foreigners as some kind of anti-crisis management need due to the difficult situation in economy, the fighting in Donbas, the necessity of radical reforms and large-scale corruption.

Earlier on the Tuesday, the president has signed special a decree granting Ukrainian citizenship to Jaresko, Kvitashvili and Abromavicius.

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Aivars Abramovicus (Aivaras Abromavicius), a candidate for head of the Ukrainian economy ministry, at a session of Verkhovna Rada in Kiev (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak)

Dual nationality is forbidden in Ukraine and the trio has already written applications to give up the citizenship of foreign states, Yury Lutsenko, the head of the Petro Poroshenko Block (PPB), said.

Poroshenko said that there’ll be even more foreigners on administrative positions in Ukraine as the country “must attract the best international experience, which includes assigning positions in the government to representative of states friendly to Ukraine.”

Also on Tuesday, the MPs from Poroshenko’s ruling bloc have registered a draft law in the Rada on amending the Ukrainian legislation for it to allow citizens of other states in the government.

It had been announced by Poroshenko a week ago. This move has been dubbed “unprecedented” and attracted criticism from experts with some calling it “allegiance to the so-called European choice,” and others expressing concern that it can be a sign of Ukraine losing its sovereignty.

Poroshenko also promised to grant the citizenship of Ukraine to all foreigners fighting for Kiev against the militias in the country’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

“I’m going to sign a decree conferring Ukrainian citizenship to those, who defended Ukraine with arms in their hands,” he wrote on Twitter.

However, not everybody in the parliament supported the inclusion of foreigners into the Ukrainian government.

Earlier, the MP from the Opposition Block said Aleksandr Vilkul suggested that by inviting people from abroad the Ukrainian authorities are trying to absolve themselves of responsibility for the state of things in the country.

Vilkul colleague, Yury Boyko, said he can’t understand how it wasn’t possible to find 10 candidates for the cabinet among Ukraine’s 40-million population.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK Midlands outrage: Police teargas and ‘assault’ students protesting tuition fees

RT | December 4, 2014

A student protest at Warwick University against soaring tuition fees was broken up by police and security guards using tear gas and significant force. Protesters were threatened with a Taser, pushed to the ground and rammed against a wall, activists say.

The protest, organized by Warwick For Free Education, occurred on Wednesday as part of a nationwide chain of student demonstrations coordinated by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

The students had decided to hold a peaceful sit-in at the university’s Senate House in protest at rising fees for higher education that have been introduced under PM David Cameron’s government.

A spokesman for Warwick University said university security guards, who were monitoring the protest, were subjected to a “shocking and unprovoked act of violence,” which prompted them to call for a police presence. But the spokesman’s claims were contradicted by students who insisted the protest was quiet and peaceful.

One of the student protesters told OpenDemocracy.org that approximately 50 students attended a rally on Warwick University’s campus before making their way to occupy the reception area of the university’s Senate House. He claimed his fellow protesters were seated peacefully in a large circle, only to be besieged by security guards and officers.

Following the arrival of West Midlands Police officers, clashes ensued. A formal statement published on the Warwick For Free Education website alleges that “at least 20 students were assaulted by university security and police.”

Protesters were “punched, pushed onto the floor, dragged, rammed by their throat into the wall and kneed in the face,” the protest group claims.

‘Disproportionate force’

Footage published online shows an officer shoving the students with considerable force, while protesters shout, “What are you doing?”

The YouTube video reveals screaming students, visibly shocked and fearful, being forcibly dispersed by police.

One girl, who appeared to be filming the protest, was physically hauled forward by an officer and subsequently pushed away as she screamed in a terrified manner. A nearby student who witnessed the event shouted at the officer, “Get your hands off her! Mate, what are you doing? This is peaceful.”

The officer appeared to respond by lunging toward the young man in a threatening manner with a can of CS gas.

CS or tear gas is a commonly used agent for riot control. Exposure creates a sensation of burning, and causes excessive tearing of the eyes so that the subject’s vision is temporarily impaired.

One student who had attended the demonstration told the Coventry Telegraph that a police officer “took out his CS spray and sprayed it in one person’s eyes and then into a crowd of about 10 people.”

“A Taser was taken out and was being made to crackle by pressing the trigger, but it wasn’t used,” he added.

The student said the force deployed felt “particularly disproportionate.” “When the police came they didn’t say why they were there. A lot of younger students were visibly shaken and left in tears.”

The activist added the violence the students experienced was a “shock” because the protest was “quiet.” “We weren’t even shouting,” he emphasized.

‘Released without charge’

On Wednesday, just before 9 pm, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police declared on Twitter that the protest was still ongoing. The force had made three arrests, following what it claimed were “reports of an assault.”

“During the disorder, a Taser was drawn and an audible and visible warning was issued to prevent further incidents. The Taser was not fired,” another Tweet posted by the police force read.

Warwick University Students’ Union said in a statement that the force deployed by West Midlands Police was “disproportionate.”

“From the footage we have seen of this incident, we absolutely believe that disproportionate force was used against protesters. We stand in solidarity with the Warwick students who were unnecessarily harmed in this action.”

West Midlands Police arrested one person on suspicion of assault, while two others were arrested on suspicion of obstructing officers. All three have been released without charge, Warwick For Free Education announced on the group’s Facebook page Wednesday night.

Shocked and disgusted by yesterday’s events, staff and former students at the university have launched a petition calling for an “immediate review of the university’s police liaison policies,” and for the university to make “an unreserved apology” to the students who endured violence on university property.

It also demands that the university issue a firm guarantee it will assist “students in making complaints through the Independent Police Complaints Commission and, if necessary, pursuing legal action against the police.”

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Two Egyptian artists accused of treason for criticising Sisi

khaled-abol-naga

Khaled Abol Naga
MEMO | December 4, 2014

Egyptian Attorney General Judge Hisham Barakat yesterday ordered actor Khaled Abol Naga and singer Mohammed Attia to be investigated for charges of espionage and treason following public criticism of President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, the Anadolu Agency quoted a judicial source as saying.

According to the lawsuit filed by lawyer Hisham Ibrahim Mustafa, “Khaled Abol Naga incited against the military establishment under the pretext of opposing the military operations in Sinai and called on the people to demonstrate against the Republic’s president, disturbing the peace.”

Mustafa said the incidents occurred before the November 28 protests, which means that Abol Naga has contacts with foreign intelligence services.

Further, Mustafa said that singer Mohamed Attia joined protests against the acquittal of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his aides in Abdel Moneim Riad Square, Cairo, in violation of the Penal Code and is also in contact with foreign intelligence agencies.

On Facebook, Attia denounced the espionage charges against him.

Egypt has witnessed tens of angry protests against the Cairo Criminal Court’s decision to dismiss all criminal charges of killing peaceful demonstrators during the January 25 Revolution made against Mubarak, his two sons, Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly and six of Al-Adly’s senior aides as well as businessman Hussein Salem. Attorney General Hisham Barakat Ali appealed the ruling.

In November, lawyer Samir Sabri filed another lawsuit against Khaled Abol Naga accusing him of high treason and disturbing the peace after the actor condemned the displacement of the Sinai residents to create a military buffer zone with Gaza and criticised Al-Sisi.

Egyptian authorities claimed the operations aimed to “stop terrorist infiltration” into the country after the attack on a military post on October 24 which led to the killing of at least 31 people and which injured 30 more, according to official figures.

A group of Egyptian filmmakers and writers signed a statement of solidarity with Abol Naga condemning the lawsuit. The signatories of the statement said they stand in solidarity with his right to express his opinion without being terrorised by people who “appoint themselves guardians of Egyptian patriotism”.

In response to the reports, Abol Naga wrote on Twitter: “I do not accept defamatory statements by some television hosts against me or my family.”

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Ireland takes UK to human rights court over Hooded Men case

RT | December 4, 2014

The Irish government has asked the ECHR to reexamine the 1978 verdict of the Hooded Men Case. The Northern Irishmen involved seek justice after a new set of previously classified documents point to torture by the UK government in the high-profile case.

The case in question involves torture allegations brought by 14 suspects who said they were subjected to suffering during their detention without trial in 1971 at the Ballykelly British Army Base in County Londonderry.

Liam Shannon, one of the protagonists in the Hooded Men Case, told RT’s ‘In the Now’ that his nightmare began on August 9, 1971, when “hundreds of Catholic men” were arrested by the British Army and taken to detention centers all over Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the troubles there.

From hundreds, Shannon says, 14 people were selected for “in-depth interrogation.”

“That took the form of the use of five techniques. ‘Wall standing’ in the stress position, ‘hooding’, white noise, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and continued beatings,” Shannon told RT host Anissa Naouai.

After the men were released, they brought a legal challenge to the European Court, which in 1978 ruled that the evidence against UK authorities did not constitute torture, but instead was ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’. This judgment is now being challenged.

“We never expected that a government would torture its own citizens and that’s exactly what happened,” Shannon says, as he recalled his pain from his detention. “We were hooded from the word go. We were put into helicopters and told that we were hundreds of feet in the air, and thrown out just to find that we were 3 or 4 feet off the ground.”

Calling it a “very frightening experience,” he said ‘hooding’ continued for seven days straight as the “hoods were never taken off except during interrogation,” when he was repeatedly beaten.

“We were kept hooded, we were beaten. If we couldn’t stand against the wall for any longer… and if you attempted to get off the wall you were severely beaten and put back open again,” Shannon recalls.

All men in the case, Shannon says, suffered psychologically as well as physically from the confinement.

“I actually contracted Crohn’s disease afterwards when I was released from prison, which left me very, very ill for quite some time and left me having to take strong medication for a long time. We also all have sleepless nights, nightmares, cold sweats… everything else that goes along with it.”

A statement by the Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan on Tuesday announced the request by Dublin for the European court to revise its judgment. He said that the government had taken seriously the material in the RTÉ documentary ‘The Torture Files’ in June this year.

“On the basis of the new material uncovered, it will be contended that the ill-treatment suffered by the Hooded Men should be recognized as torture,” Flanagan said. […]

RT’s ‘In the Now’ managed to get a hold of Paul O’Conner from the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), a human rights advocacy and lobbying entity in Northern Ireland which helped initiate RTE’s documentary.

He told RT that PFC’s research in the British National Archives in London led to “literally thousands of documents” that prove UK government was complicit in torturing the hooded men.

“These documents show that the British government has misled the court. They withheld evidence, they withheld witnesses. They have lied to the court. And with that evidence, we went to Irish State television,” O’Conner said.

Now as victims await the torture recognition verdict, Shannon says all they want is justice.

“It will make a massive difference. It will be some justification for all the years and it will be some benefit psychologically for us. We have to remember that three of our number have since died premature deaths. Their loved ones, their families – it will make a massive difference to them, because they know what happened to their loved ones. Their loved ones were tortured to death,” Shannon told RT.

At the same time O’Conner stressed that torture conclusion by the ECHR will change a number of things. First of all, he says it will prompt a police investigation into the allegations of torture.

“That has not happened and yet we know from the documents which have emerged that senior government ministers were named as having ordered the torture, namely Lord Carrington, then Secretary of State for Defence , in the 1970s,” O’Conner told Naouai.

And most importantly, O’Conner claims the 1978 verdict will cease to be used as a precedent to justify the torture of own citizens.

“This very case has been quoted by the Israeli supreme court in cases involving torture of Palestinians. And in the infamous torture memos that were provided to George Bush in the lead up to Iraq War, the memos which led to the establishing of the Guantanamo Bay, they quote this judgment extensively,” O’Conner says.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment