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Conscientious Objectors In Their Own Words


By Margaret Brooks | Imperial War Museum

Before the First World War there had never been compulsory military service in Britain. The first Military Service Bill was passed into law in January 1916 following the failure of recruitment schemes to gain sufficient volunteers in 1914 and 1915. From March 1916, military service was compulsory for all single men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 18 to 41, except those who were in jobs essential to the war effort, the sole support of dependents, medically unfit, or ‘those who could show a conscientious objection’. This later clause was a significant British response that defused opposition to conscription. Further military service laws included married men, tightened occupational exemptions and raised the age limit to 50.

There were approximately 16,000 British men on record as conscientious objectors (COs) to armed service during the First World War. This figure does not include men who may have had anti-war sentiments but were either unfit, in reserved occupations, or had joined the forces anyway. The number of COs may appear small compared with the six million men who served, but the impact of these men on public opinion and on future governments was to be profound.

Download the transcript of the interviews.

  • Who were Conscientious Objectors?

    Broadly speaking there were four reasons why men objected to armed service during the First World War. The most common ground was a religious one. Pacifism was a time-honoured tenet of the Society of Friends (Quakers), although some Quaker men did enlist. Other individuals, including Christian fundamentalists, took the Bible at its word: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. The next largest group of COs were political activists of the left who saw the First World War as an imperialist war and as an example of the ruling classes making a war that the workers had to fight. The left was split over support for the war and those who opposed it on the radical left were not necessarily pacifists – they reserved the right to fight for a cause in which they believed. Thirdly, there were those who might be termed ‘humanists’, who felt it wrong to kill but not on religious grounds. A former naval rating, for example, had worked as a butcher and became a conscientious objector because, as he said, ‘l know what it is to kill a pig – I won’t kill a man’ (IWM SR 784). The fourth group were those who generally objected to government intervention in their lives; some thought the war had nothing to do with them personally but might have fought if they felt the United Kingdom was directly threatened.

    Image – Printed leaflet issued by the No-Conscription Fellowship entitled ‘Why We Object’, from the Private Papers of W Harrison (Documents.163)

    Audio – Walter Griffin interview © IWM (IWM SR 9790)

  • The Tribunals

    The usual procedure for a CO was to apply to his local tribunal for exemption from military service. Here, Walter Griffin describes a particular line of questioning used at the tribunals. Made up of local prominent figures, the tribunals had been set up earlier to decide on exemptions under the unsuccessful Derby Scheme. They were therefore available after conscription was introduced to assess a CO’s conviction and sincerity. The tribunals’ members were poorly briefed and in many cases merely used the hearings to state their own views. One of IWM’s interviewees was asked his age and, on hearing that he was eighteen, the tribunal chairman said: ‘Oh in that case you’re not old enough to have a conscience. Case dismissed’. The CO was sent to prison. At the tribunal’s discretion exemption could be absolute, from combatant service only, or conditional on undertaking work of national importance; but COs were frequently rejected by the local tribunal or offered an unacceptable position. They could then go before an appeals tribunal and if they were refused again they could appeal to the Central Tribunal in London. Once a CO was refused exemption, he was considered to have enlisted into military service.

    Image – Military Service Act 1916, poster (Art.IWM PST 5161)

    Audio –  Walter Griffin interview © IWM (IWM SR 9790)

  • Alternativist and Absolutist Conscientious Objectors

    A problem for the CO was determining where to draw the line in his stance and whether there was a difference in principle between combatant and non-combatant service. Some COs would take on alternative civilian work or enter the military in non-combatant roles in the Royal Army Medical Corps or Non-Combatant Corps, for example. COs in prison were offered so-called ‘work of national importance’ in a scheme put forward by the Home Office. This was generally agriculture, forestry or unskilled manual labour. Other conscientious objectors – known as ‘absolutists’ – refused to do any war-related work or obey military orders.

    Image – Munitions workers painting shells at the National Shell Filling Factory No.6 in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, 1917 (Q 30016)

    Audio – Philip Radley interview © IWM (IWM SR 642)

  • Military and Civil Punishments

    In practice, having been rejected on appeal a CO was a soldier absent without leave and as such was subject to arrest. COs who entered military service were also arrested for refusing to obey military orders. Over one-third of the 16,000 COs went to prison at least once, including the majority of absolutists who were imprisoned virtually for the duration. At first, COs were sent to military prisons because they were considered to be soldiers. It was a minor triumph for the anti-conscription movement when a mid-1916 Army order ruled that COs who had been court martialled were to be sent to civil prisons. The initial standard sentence was 112 days third division hard labour – the most severe level of prison sentence under English law at that time. This began with one month in solitary confinement on bread and water, performing arduous and boring manual jobs like breaking stone, hand-sewing mailbags and picking oakum. With good conduct remission, most COs served about three months. However, after being released a CO could be immediately arrested again as a deserter, court-martialled and returned to prison. This ‘Cat and Mouse’ treatment had been previously used on the Suffragettes, and as the war went on sentences handed down to COs increased. Over the course of the war, some conscientious objectors were actually taken with their regiments to France, where one could be shot for refusing to obey a military order. Thirty-four were sentenced to death after being court martialled but had their sentences commuted to penal servitude. Here, Howard Marten talks about military field punishments and the outcome of his court martial in France.

    Image – Copy negative made from a photomontage and cartoon postcard “A Souvenir of C.O. Settlements 1918” (Q 103096)

    Audio – Howard Marten interview © IWM (IWM SR 383)

  • Prison conditions


  • When Harold Bing was in Winchester Prison, there was one wing for male criminal prisoners, one for women and two for conscientious objectors. The conditions for COs were exactly the same as those for criminal prisoners, but COs did succeed in getting prisons to offer a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism was common among COs, as it had an obvious affinity, particularly with humanitarian pacifism. CO prisoners were allowed a very limited number of censored letters, though one of the COs interviewed by IWM said ‘filling the notepaper was quite an art’ because there was nothing to say after months or years in prison. They had no calendars, no newspapers, and few visits – those visits they did receive were through a grille. They were limited to a few books from the prison library at infrequent intervals, but after a while COs were allowed to have books sent in under the condition that they donate them to the prison library once finished with them. Later CO prisoners were impressed to find prison libraries stocked with titles by William Morris, Sidney and Beatrice Webb and other writers of the left. Here, Bing recalls the constrained and degrading conditions of prison life.

    Image – Copy negative made from a postcard of a conscientious objector prison, original caption reads ‘On the stool’ (Q 103094)

    Audio – Harold Bing interview © IWM (IWM SR 358)

  • How did conscientious objectors cope in prison?

  • Severe physical brutality towards all COs seems to be a First World War myth. Certainly several of IWM’s interviewees experienced or witnessed very harsh treatment and 73 COs died as a result of physical abuse. The primary punishment – in many cases the most severe – was psychological rather than physical. The most fortunate COs were those who could devise ways to cope with loneliness, doubt, depression and loss of ability to concentrate. Some COs took an active role in challenging the situation in which they found themselves. Some participated in covert activity, described here by Harold Bing. Others coped through mental exercise. One of the COs interviewed by IWM, a musician, played an imaginary piano on his knees and even did some composition. Some COs learned Esperanto, many recited poetry from memory, and several went on long, imaginary, remembered walks. One man held races on the floor between bits of cobbler’s wax and another gained comfort from talking to the spiders on the cell wall and the bolts on its door.

    Image – Copy negative made from a conscientious objector postcard depicting the interior of a cell (Q 103669)

    Audio – Harold Bing interview © IWM (IWM SR 358)

  • Resistance

  • Some COs openly resisted the system, as described here by Fenner Brockway. Work and hunger strikes were held by COs including Clifford Allen (later Lord Allen of Hurtwood), chairman of the No-Conscription Fellowship, and Sir Francis Meynell. For many COs, the pressures and hardships strengthened their resolve.

    Image – Copy negative made from a conscientious objector postcard, original caption reads ‘Ger – inside an’ close yer door!’ (Q 103666)

    Audio – Fenner Brockway interview © IWM (IWM SR 476)

  • How were conscientious objectors treated?


  • Whether in prison or not, COs and their families did have a common experience in many respects, especially from the pressures they felt from society. Britain’s public support for the war was almost unanimous and society tended to view men who would not fight – and the men and women who supported them – with suspicion and loathing. To become a conscientious objector in 1916 was a difficult decision, which apparently involved rejecting the whole of conventional British society and everything it stood for. Wartime domestic propaganda made it all too plain that a person was either with the national effort or against it; and if against it, he was by implication either not concerned with the sacrifices of others or was undermining their willingness to serve. The conscientious objector was trapped psychologically: he felt guilty if he shared the soldiers’ ordeal and guilty if he did not. COs were not released until about six months after the end of the war, in order to give most soldiers a head-start when looking for jobs. They were also stripped of the right to vote until 1926. With time most did find a way to fit back into society – some very successfully. None of the COs interviewed by IWM appeared to feel any bitterness about their treatment, but they seem to remain, through their First World War experiences, permanently set apart.

    Image – First World War-era cartoon by Frank Holland titled ‘An “Object” Lesson: This Little Pig Stayed at Home’ (Q 103334)

    Audio – Clips from interviews with Percy Leonard © IWM (IWM SR 382), Lewis Maclachlan © IWM (IWM SR 565), Dorothy Bing © IWM (IWM SR 555)

This is an abridged version of a longer article, written by Margaret Brooks (former Keeper of the IWM Sound Archive), which appeared in the Imperial War Museum Review, No. 3 (1988).

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Nigeria Shia leader to face prosecution: Nigerian official


Nigerian Shia leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky
Press TV – December 20, 2015

Nigerian authorities say Shia leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, who has been arrested and whose family and supporters have faced a bloody crackdown, will face prosecution.

On Saturday, Nasir al-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State in north-central Nigeria, where Zakzaky was arrested in his home city of Zaria last week, said the cleric “will be prosecuted for any crimes that he may have committed,” Nigerian newspaper THISDAY reported on Sunday.

“That is the decision for the federal authorities. There are state and federal crimes,” the official added, making it clear that the case would be brought against the cleric by Abuja rather than local officials. “There is a government and a constitution and we are resolved to follow the constitution and due process.”

Nigerian forces raided the house of Zakzaky, the head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), last Sunday and arrested him after reportedly killing individuals attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.

Nigerian soldiers had opened fire on Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city the previous day, accusing the Shias of stopping the convoy of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and attempting to assassinate him. Zakzaky was planning a speech at the center, and the IMN has strongly rejected the assassination accusation.

The attack on Zakzaky’s residence and the violence during the road incident led to the deaths of hundreds of the members of the religious community, including three of Zakzaky’s sons.

The IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Usman, meanwhile, rejected the accusation by the governor that the movement had “blocked roads for four days” during the religious ceremony, which marked Arba’een, the fortieth day to follow the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the third Shia Imam.

“Clearly, this is a deliberate attempt to twist the facts. During the Arba’een symbolic treks, we block only limited part of the road, and this is to protect persons from traffic accidents, control mass movement and avoid chaos on the roads,” Usman said.

“The governor here was trying to give the impression of a complete occupation of a lane for four days. That was not the case. Blocks were only from junction to junction on the roads. The public was informed about these little inconveniences with apologies on public radio and television stations throughout the trek. Road users during the period would be surprised by the governor’s statement,” he said.

Shia Muslims in Nigeria march during a procession marking Arba’een. (File photo)

Rufai has also announced that a judicial commission of inquiry has been set up to look into the attack on the cleric’s residence.

The IMN has said it does not trust any likely findings by the state investigators, adding that authorities have refused to listen to the Shia community about what happened in Zaria and are only focusing on the army’s account.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop unacceptable harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory – UN experts

UN Human Rights Council | December 18, 2015

GENEVA – United Nations independent experts today expressed grave concerns at continued reports that human rights defenders are being subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention, and death threats, particularly in Hebron in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in an apparent bid by Israeli authorities and settler elements to stop their peaceful and important work.

“Amidst a charged and violent atmosphere over past months in the OPT, Palestinian and international defenders are providing a ‘protective presence’ for Palestinians at risk of violence, and documenting human rights violations,” said the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

“The continued harassment of human rights defenders in the OPT, who are exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and association, is simply unacceptable. It should cease immediately,” Mr. Forst stressed.

Earlier this month, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Israeli Government to ensure a protective environment where human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory can work without unlawful restriction and without fear of retaliatory acts.

“We recently addressed concerns to the Israeli Government regarding retaliatory acts by Israeli authorities against members of one organisation based in Hebron, Youth Against Settlements, after its Centre was subjected to raids and settlers allegedly called for it to be closed,” noted the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights in the OPT, Makarim Wibisono.

“The Centre has now effectively been shut down as a result of the Israeli military declaring the surrounding area a military zone,” Mr. Wibisono said. “We urge Israeli authorities to lift this military order.”

The experts’ statement has been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan E. Méndez, and by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yemen talks end with no deal to stop war: Hadi delegation

Press TV – December 20, 2015

The UN-brokered peace talks between Yemen’s warring sides have ended in Switzerland without any agreement to end the Saudi aggression against the impoverished country, a member of the delegation representing Yemen’s fugitive former president says.

The negotiations will resume in Ethiopia on January 14, representatives of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi said after the talks ended on Sunday.

This came only hours after the United Nations office in Geneva said in a statement that the talks between a delegation representing the Houthi Ansarullah movement and Hadi’s representatives ended. Hadi is supported by Saudi Arabia through a deadly air campaign against the Houthis and Yemeni people.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is expected to hold a press conference on the negotiations later on Sunday.

The UN-brokered negotiations began in the Swiss village of Magglingen on December 15 with the aim of reaching a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.

On Saturday, the two sides agreed to form a committee to oversee a fragile seven-day truce that came into effect on December 15 and has been violated several times.

Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March. More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since March. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.

The Saudi attacks were supposed to stop under a ceasefire which went into effect hours before the talks in Switzerland began; however, the raids have continued after the truce with reports of fatalities.

Saudi aggression

Also on Sunday, five Yemeni women were killed in a fresh Saudi airstrike in Sa’ada province.

Saudi warplanes bombed a residential area in al-Kitaf town, al-Masirah satellite television said.

This is the second Saudi bombing of the region in the past 48 hours. In an attack on Friday, 15 people had been killed.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi jets also targeted a firm in a village in Bani Matar town in Sana’a province. Saudi jets also bombed a post office there.

A mosque and a bus station were also bombed in al-Hudaydah province.

The Sunday attacks were the latest violation of a seven-day ceasefire that came into force after UN-brokered talks opened in Switzerland between Yemen’s warring sides on December 15.

On December 17, head of Ansarullah Political Council Saleh Ali al-Sammad said in a statement that Riyadh had intensified its bombing of Yemen, taking advantage of the truce.

In return, Ansarullah fighters and allied army units killed about 150 Saudi-led troops in two ballistic missile attacks on Saturday.

The first attack hit a military base in Ma’rib province that also destroyed eight Apache helicopters, a drones’ command center, two Chinook airplanes as well as a number of tanks and military vehicles.

The second attack targeted a gathering of Saudi forces in al-Tawal border crossing, which links Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah to Saudi’s southwestern province of Jizan.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Israeli Strike in Syria Kills Dean of Arab Detainees Samir Kuntar

Al-Manar | December 20, 2015

Jaramana4Israeli warplanes raided a residential building in the Syrian city of Jaramana late on Saturday, killing the Dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons, Samir Kuntar.

Al-Manar sources said the Israeli warplanes struck the building with four long-range missiles, causing complete destruction of the building and partial damage to the surrounding structures.

Hezbollah Media Relations released a statement on Sunday announcing the martyrdom of Kuntar who spent 29 years in the Israeli prisons.

“At 10:15 p.m. on Saturday December 19, Zionist warplanes struck a residential building in Jaramana city in Damascus countryside,” Hezbollah Media Relations said in the statement.

“The Dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons, brother Mujahid Samir Kuntar was martyred along with several Syrian citizens in the strike,” the statement added.

Al-Manar correspondent in Damascus reported that the Takfiri insurgents fighting the Syrian government have been operating in Jaramana, noting that they have been repeatedly coordinating with the Israeli enemy, in a clear indication that the latest strike could be coordinated by the Zionist forces and the terrorists.

Kuntar was detained by occupation forces in 1979, at the age of 16, for his involvement in a heroic operation against Zionists. He was released along with four other Lebanese prisoners in a 2008 swap deal with Hezbollah in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2006 war.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The Caesar Photos and Impunity in Syria

By Steven Chovanec | Reports From Underground | December 19, 2015

Western media are reporting headline claims that “new evidence supports claims about Syrian state detention deaths”, saying that “a leading rights group has released new evidence that up to 7,000 Syrians who died in state detention centres were tortured, mistreated, or executed”, noting that this information is a moral wakeup call and demanding that officials being held to account should be “central to peace efforts.”

However, as is usually so, not everything is quite as it seems. So let’s take a look at the facts.

First the timing.

As has been commonplace the timing of the reports like these have almost always coincided with important diplomatic meetings or just after important UN resolutions are passed.

For example, beginning in mid-March claims began to pour in that Assad had been using chlorine bombs against his opponents. Media reports would cite the fact that only 2 months later the government had already been accused of using chlorine 35 times. What they failed to mention however was that no claims were made for an entire 7 months before this. So what changed after these 7 months?

Well, a UN resolution was passed condemning the use of chlorine, that’s what.

The government’s alleged chlorine campaign “began just over a week after the UN security council passed a resolution under chapter 7 of the UN charter condemning its use,” the Guardian would report. For more than half of a year no claims are made and then a week after a UN resolution is passed, all of a sudden a total of 35 are made in just under 2 months.

If Assad was really using chlorine, why would he wait a full 7 months only to use it at the exact time that it would prove to be the most disastrous for him?

This, coupled with the fact that former OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors admit that there was insufficient evidence to prove the use of chlorine, let alone assign blame for who did it.

And further troubling still is that the claims came from the “White Helmets” “civil defense group”, who have been notorious for producing false claims against the Syrian government. In actuality the White Helmets are part of a slick propaganda campaign aimed at mobilizing support for foreign intervention and calling for a “no-fly zone” to oust the president. They have financial links to Western-backed NGOs who relentlessly work towards furthering the US agenda in the region, and are themselves embedded with al-Qaeda and ISIS. Their primary function is to demonize the Syrian government while acting as al-Qaeda’s clean-up crew, both literally and in terms of propaganda, as one video shows them waiting to clean up dead bodies moments after al-Qaeda commits summary executions against unarmed civilians. They have produced numerous fake videos, fake photos, and fake narratives in order to manipulate public opinion towards their bias.(1)

Needless to say, their words aren’t credible.

In terms of the the Caesar photos, they too are published days before an important Syrian peace conference between the US and Russia, further raising questions as to whether the timing has anything to do with helping Syrian detainees or everything to do with political impact.

As noted by Human Rights Investigations, a previous report of the photos was done by Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors of London and published through CNN and the Guardian in January of 2014. The Carter-Ruck report claims that the 55,000 images available show 11,000 dead detainees. However, according to the recent HRW report only 28,707 of the photos are ones that they have “understood to have died in government custody” while the remaining 24,568 are of dead soldiers killed in battle. That is, half of the alleged “torture victims” are actually dead soldiers.

Of the remaining half (6,786), HRW maintains that they “understand” the photos are of dead detainees, this is where the media is getting the “7,000” figure from, yet they themselves admit later on that they were only “able to verify 27 cases of detainees whose family members’ statements regarding their arrest and physical characteristics matched the photographic evidence.”

So, in other words, half of the original batch of photos aren’t torture victims, while of the other half only 27 can be verified by HRW.

There is also reason to doubt the reliability of these 27 cases.

Previous reports of the photos also coincided with important diplomatic events like the 2014 Geneva II conferences. However, at that time, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay admitted that the reports were unverified: “the report… if verified, is truly horrifying.” While it was admitted by outlets like Reuters that they were unable “to determine the authenticity of Caesar’s photographs or to contact Caesar” while Amnesty International notes that they too “cannot authenticate the images.”

One wonders what happened during this time that allowed HRW to do what these others could not just a year prior.

Leaving that aside however, let’s say that they are true, that they do prove that the Syrian government tortured 27 individuals, and that holding the officials “to account should be central to any peace efforts.”

It follows then that the major offenders should be held to account. Namely the United States.

Of the top 10 recipients of US foreign aid programs in 2014, all of them practice torture while at least half of them are reportedly doing so on a massive scale, according to leading human rights organizations.

For example, according to the UN torture in Afghanistan’s prisons continues to be widespread, while according to Human Rights Watch in Kenya police “tortured, raped, and otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at least 1,000 refugees between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013.”

The worst abuses of torture in government detention centers however were in Nigeria, which received $693 million of US taxpayer money. There, according to Amnesty, nearly 1,000 people died in military custody in only the first 6 months of 2013. This means that “Nigeria’s military has killed more civilians than (Boko Haram) militants did” within the same time frame. Recently, the Nigerian army, instead of fighting Boko Haram has massacred upwards of 1,000 Muslims belonging to a peaceful movement opposed to extremism.

In terms of Israel, by far the leading recipient with $3.1 billion, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel accused the government of torturing and sexually assaulting Palestinian children suspected of minor crimes, while also keeping detainees in cages outside during winter. “The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and 74 per cent experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.”

Not to mention our own widely publicized torture program.

According to the official narrative, the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programs began under Bush after 9/11 and were considered “rogue elements” and “aberrations” to normal CIA practice, they were approved at the highest levels of government, but were eventually ended under Obama in 2009.

Yet as leading international security scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed found in a recent and thorough investigation “Obama did not ban torture in 2009, and has not rescinded it now. He instead rehabilitated torture with a carefully crafted Executive Order that has received little scrutiny.”

It demanded interrogation techniques be brought in line with the US Army Field Manual, which is in compliance with the Geneva Convention. However, the manual was revised in 2006 to include 19 forms of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition. “A new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government,” Ahmed notes, “including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.”

In his book “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation” the highly renowned Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alfred McCoy shows that from the 1950s onward the CIA spent billions “improving” interrogation techniques.

At the start, the emphasis was on electroshock, hypnosis, psychosurgery, and drugs, including the infamous use of LSD on unsuspecting soldiers, yet they proved ineffective. It was later found that sensory disorientation and “self-inflicted pain”, such as forcing a subject to stand for many hours with arms outstretched, were far more effective means of breaking individuals; the exact torture techniques it has been shown the US still employs to this day.(2)

The CIA found that by using only the deprivation of the senses, a state akin to psychosis can be induced in just 48 hours.

They found that the KGB’s most devastating torture technique of all was not crude physical beatings, but simply forcing victims to stand for days on end. “The legs swelled, the skin erupted spreading legions, the kidneys shut down, and hallucinations began” explains McCoy, “all incredibly painful.”

Refined through decades of practice, “the CIA’s use of sensory deprivation relies on seemingly banal procedures: heat and cold, light and dark, noise and silence, feast and famine,” yet this combines to form “a systematic attack on the sensory pathways of the human mind” for devastating effect.

These are not “aberrations”, but instead the fruition of over half a century’s work in the experimentation of the science of cracking the code of the human mind, of the perfection of psychological torture into its most sophisticated forms.

“With the election and re-election of President Barak Obama, the problem of torture has not, as many of us have once hoped, simply disappeared, wiped away by sweeping executive orders,” McCoy explains, “Instead it is now well into a particularly sordid second phase, called impunity.”

Simply put, impunity is the political process of legalizing illegal acts.

“In this case, torture.”(3)

Instead of ending, US torture “continues to be deployed by the US government” in its most destructive forms.

It has been re-packaged and rehabilitated, codifying into law, and vanished from the general public consciousness.

Furthermore, not only does the US engage in torture on a mass scale, it and its allies as well “outsource” their torture to various regimes, utilizing their intelligence and security services to do their dirty work for them.

It was recently revealed by numerous Libyan dissidents that the UK government had entangled itself in a deep and sordid relationship with Muammar Gaddafi that amounted to “a criminal conspiracy”, as heard before the UK high court.

A conspiracy where the UK had become “enmeshed in illegality” and involved in “rendition, unlawful detention and torture.”

The victims claim that British intelligence routinely blackmailed them, threatened their families with unlawful imprisonment and abuse if they did not cooperate. Information was extracted through torture in prisons in Tripoli and fed into the British court systems as secret evidence that could not be challenged.

Yet this merely represents a wider trend whereby Western governments commit horrendous crimes in collusion with foreign states, and then use those same acts as justification for aggression against them.

The United States attempted to justify the invasion of Iraq on non-existent WMD’s after it had supplied the same weapons to the country decades prior to wage war on Iran.

As well it was Gaddafi’s alleged brutality and use of torture that was invoked to justify the devastating attack on Libya that has left the country in shambles and overrun with suffering and terrorism.

And so too with Syria.

Not only is the United States by degrees of magnitude more culpable for the crime of torture, it also was intimately involved in offshoring its crimes to Syrian jails.

A key participant in the CIA’s covert rendition program, Syria was one of the “most common destinations for rendered subjects.”

So while torture in Syria is all too real, what is commonly left out is 3 little words: “with our support.”

First we utilize, exploit, and propagate the atrocities, and then proceed to bask in our own moral righteousness as we denounce others for the crimes that we helped commit, utilizing them to justify further atrocities and aggression for shortsighted geopolitical aims.

If “officials being held to account” are really “central to any peace effort” in regards to torture, we know exactly where to find them: right here at home in Washington and London.


December 20, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘NATO’s Ambitions’ Behind EU Visa-Free Regimes With Ukraine, Georgia

Sputnik – 20.12.2015

The introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo, is another part of NATO’s enlargement to the East, DWN wrote. Washington is trying to further encircle Russia and is, therefore, incorporating the countries into its orbit.

Having failed to resolve the immigration crisis, the EU is taking another controversial step, DWN reported.

On Friday, Brussels recommended abolishing visa restrictions for citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo as stated by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

According to him, this gesture would signify the recognition of the countries’ efforts in implementing democratic reforms. In fact, this decision is a part of NATO’s strategy of expansion to the East and its attempts to encircle Russia, the newspaper reported.

Washington is willing to turn Ukraine into its outpost on the Russian border. This, however, will happen at the expense of the EU, as Kiev is being kept afloat only by European taxpayers, the article said.

The country has long been bankrupt and is totally dependent on the foreign financial support. Moreover, the money is not being spent for the needs of the population, but rather flows into the pockets of corrupt Ukrainian politicians.

Such a situation will inevitably lead to a crisis which could transform the country into another “supplier” of refugees to Europe, the article said.

The abolition of visa restrictions for Georgia and Kosovo pursues the same geopolitical purpose as in the case of Ukraine, the newspaper wrote. Kosovo has one of NATO’s major air bases against Russia, while Georgia is located on the Russian flank and is of strategic importance for Moscow.

NATO’s recent invitation to Montenegro to start the accession talks on joining the military alliance should also be considered in this context. This way, NATO is trying to enclose Russia from Southern Europe and contribute to its further isolation.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza City Like You’ve Never Seen Before

June 3, 2015

Gaza City has thousands of years of history to offer. However, the people are what captures the essence of this place.


December 20, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Propaganda Can’t Melt Steel Beams

By Kevin Ryan | Dig Within | December 20, 2015

Eleven years ago, I initiated a discussion about the fact that jet fuel fires could not have melted steel at the World Trade Center. The government agency investigating the WTC destruction responded by holding “some of its deliberations in secret.” Although it’s not a secret that jet fuel can’t melt steel, due to propaganda from sources like The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, Americans often get confused about what facts like that mean to any national discussion. In a nutshell, what it means is that the molten metal found at the WTC, for which there is a great deal of evidence, cannot be explained by the official 9/11 myth.

No one thinks that jet fuel fires can melt steel beams—not even The Posts’ new science champion, who doesn’t bother to actually use jet fuel or steel beams to teach us about “retarded metallurgical things,” believes it. Instead, he uses a thin metal rod and a blacksmith forge to imply that, if the WTC buildings were made of thin metal rods and there were lots of blacksmith forges there, the thin metal rods would have lost strength and this would be the result. If you buy that as an explanation for what happened at the WTC, you might agree that all the “truthers” should just stop bothering everyone and go get jobs.

st_spout3sThis absurd demonstration highlights at least two major problems with America’s ongoing struggle to understand 9/11. The first is that there was a great deal of molten metal at the WTC. Those who know that fact sometimes share internet memes that say “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” when they want to convey that “Thermite Melted Steel at the WTC.” The second major problem is that certain mainstream media sources continue to put a lot of energy into dis-informing the public about 9/11.

Sources like The Posts, The New York Times and some “alternative media” continue to work hard to support the official myth of 9/11. That effort is not easy because they must do so while providing as little actual information about 9/11 as possible. The dumbing down of the average citizen is a full time job for such propagandists. Luckily for them, American students receive almost no historical context that encourages them to think critically or consider ideas that conflict with blind allegiance to their government. When it comes to the WTC, it also helps that almost 80% of Americans are scientifically illiterate.

As media companies attempt to confuse the public about 9/11, they must avoid relating details that might actually get citizens interested in the subject. For example, it’s imperative that they never mention any of these fourteen facts about 9/11. It is also important to never reference certain people, like the ordnance distribution expert (and Iran-Contra suspect) who managed security at the WTC or the tortured top al Qaeda leader who turned out to have nothing to do with al Qaeda. In fact, to support the official myth of 9/11 these days, media must ignore almost every aspect of the crimes while promoting only the most mindless nonsense they can find. That bewildering strategy becomes more obvious every day.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 8 Comments

Hugh Hewitt’s Demonic Visions

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | December 19, 2015

In a GOP debate otherwise marked by constant calls for more bombs, more boots on the ground, more invasions, and even punching Russian President Vladimir Putin in the nose, one exchange stood out as the sad epitaph for an America whose moral compass has gone completely off.

Neoconservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt was trying to gauge the candidates’ willingness to fight endless wars, and he must have sensed that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, as one who has saved the lives of so many, might be weak on the war question. Could Carson kill as ruthlessly as the others, Hewitt demanded to know.

Here is the exchange:

HEWITT: Dr. Carson…… you mentioned in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric neurologist surgeon…

CARSON: Neurosurgeon.

HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

This horrific suggestion passed by as completely normal. As if it is the normal job of an American president to slaughter thousands of innocent children.

Carson started to answer by describing how he saves children by operating on their brains, and then ended by stating that you have to get the entire job done at once, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

Hewitt, like the rest of us, was left unsure what Carson really meant with such an obscure response, so he asked him more bluntly:

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like… That is what war — can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?

CARSON: Ruthless is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are, and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done.

So Hewitt wondered whether Carson’s medical training would get in the way of his becoming a war criminal if elected, and Carson assured him it would not.

Hewitt, like many neocons, is obsessed with Churchill as the model for a tough, ruthless leader. In a memorable exchange back in 2007 with the late and great General William Odom, Hewitt similarly grilled Gen. Odom about whether, facing the new Hitler (Iran) Odom would be on the side of Churchill or Neville Chamberlain. It’s an age-old tactic of the neocons, but General Odom was not a man to be bullied by a pipsqueak like Hewitt.

Here’s how it went down in 2007:

Hugh Hewitt: You would have been with which party in Great Britain in the 30’s? Let me ask it that way. Was Churchill—

William Odom: I was — it’s not analogous to today at all. . . .

HH: Yes, but did Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain ignore the statements of Hitler, and put it down as just rhetoric?

WO: This is — Ahmadinejad is not — he does not have German industry. He does not preside over a country which was becoming the major industrial power in Europe.

HH: Yeah, but he will have . . .

WO: He’s in a backward country with a group of people who are becoming poorer and poorer as a result of his policies.

HH: But he will have . . .

WO: And if you can’t see the difference between that, then I’m very disappointed in your judgment.

Hewitt went on to question Odom’s dedication to more intervention overseas and the good General dropped him in his tracks:

HH: Did you see Cambodia coming, General?

WO: And following — let me ask you. Are you enthusiastic enough to put on a uniform and go?

HH: No. I’m a civilian.

WO: Okay, but we can recruit you.

HH: I’m 51, General.

WO: And I don’t see all these war hawks that want to — none of them have been in a war, and they don’t want to go.

The rest of the exchange between Odom and Hewitt is a great read — particularly as every one of Odom’s predictions about Iraq has come true.

It is difficult to imagine an American body politic so morally ill as to embrace the idea that the ideal president should be a mass murderer. That a real leader must not make distinctions between civilians and combatants in a war. That civilians by the thousands must be killed without compunction to keep America safe.

Christians (and Hugh Hewitt professes to be one) prepare to rejoice at the birth of their Savior, the Prince of Peace, this coming week. What a way to prepare for the coming of Christ the King, to rejoice not in the promise of salvation but in the spilling of innocent blood.

Something is really wrong.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment