JFP 4/25: NATO targets Qaddafi; Gitmo docs show thin evidence

Just Foreign Policy News
April 25, 2011

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy

Go Straight to the News Summary

I) Actions and Featured Articles

*Action: Barbara Boxer: Ending the Endless War

California Senator Barbara Boxer has re-introduced former Senator Feingold's bill requiring the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan - a timetable with an end date. Senators Durbin, Harkin, Gillibrand, and Brown have already signed on as co-sponsors. A real deadline for US withdrawal would facilitate meaningful peace talks. More visible Senate criticism of the endless war can move the White House. Urge your Senator to co-sponsor.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/s186

An Anti-War Candidate Announces for President
If there is no anti-war Democratic primary for President, would you consider voting in the Republican one?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/gary-johnson-afghanistan_b_853241.html

Video: Guantánamo Bay files: 'The vast majority were not extremists'
Responding to WikiLeaks files published by the Guardian, Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of Reprieve, discusses the 'extraordinarily thin' evidence used to hold prisoners and the 'nonsense' cooked up by a group of serial informers to get privileges.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/apr/25/guantanamo-bay-files-reprieve-video

Video: 37 people who protest at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse against the use of drones are arrested Friday
Anti-war veteran Elliot Adams: "Every weapon is adept at something…drones are adept at assassination…Assassination is illegal because it's immoral."
http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/04/war_protestors_arrested_at_han.html

Help Support Our Advocacy for Peace and Diplomacy
The opponents of peace and diplomacy work every day. Help us be an effective counterweight.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) NATO appeared to be targeting Gaddafi and his inner circle after two air strikes in three days hit sites in or near Gaddafi's compound, the Guardian reports. A reception area where Gaddafi hosted a delegation from the African Union two weeks ago was badly damaged. A Libyan government spokesman claimed three people were killed. Figures close to the regime claim that NATO is attempting to assassinate Gaddafi, the Guardian says. Hours before the strikes, Senator Lindsey Graham called for NATO to "cut the head of the snake off."

2) US military files reveal that , alongside the "worst of the worst", many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment, the Guardian reports. The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence, the Guardian says. One Briton was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. One prisoner was shipped to the base "because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver." The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

3) Much of the US military's belief in "tea culture" can be traced back to Greg Mortenson and his memoir, "Three Cups of Tea," a book touted by top commanders and devoured by younger officers, Greg Jaffe writes in the Washington Post. The "tea" scandal's most far-reaching impact could be on the U.S. military, which was quick to embrace Mortenson's message that one American could help change the lives of Afghans, Jaffe writes. "The U.S. military was just dying for his story to be true," said Celeste Ward Gventer, who was a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Baghdad.

Mortenson's narratives of wise, patient and kind Afghan and Pakistani elders made it seem as though progress in Afghanistan was achievable. All U.S. troops had to do was learn the Afghan culture, show some patience and deliver a little bit of progress, and the Afghans would see the U.S. military's good intentions and turn against the Taliban.

Mortenson's stumble will almost certainly lead to greater soul-searching among officers who have been questioning not only Mortenson but also the broader hearts-and-minds approach of this war. And the controversy is likely to spur more discussion about the limits of American goodwill and influence in a place such as Afghanistan.

"No amount of tea with Afghans will persuade them that we are like them, that our war is their war or that our interests are their interests," said Michael Miklaucic, a longtime official with USAID who is currently serving at the Pentagon's National Defense University. "The war in Afghanistan isn't about persuasion or tea. It is about power."

4) President Obama's assertion at a recent California fundraiser that Bradley Manning "broke the law" drew immediate fire from some tracking Manning's case, Politico reports. "The comment was not appropriate because it assumes that Manning is guilty," Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told Politico. "No one should mistake a charge for a conviction - especially the nation's highest official."

5) President Obama's assertion that "Ellsberg's material wasn't classified in the same way" as the diplomatic cables allegedly leaked by Manning is technically true, but not the way he intended, writes Glenn Greenwald in Salon. The 42 volumes of the Pentagon Papers leaked by Ellsberg to The New York Times were designated "TOP SECRET": the highest secrecy designation under the law. By stark contrast, not a single page of the materials allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was marked "top secret"; to the contrary, it was all marked "secret" or "classified": among the lowest level secrecy classifications. Using the Government's own standards, then, the leak by Ellsberg was vastly more dangerous than the alleged leak by Manning.

But it has long been vital for Obama officials and the President's loyalists to distinguish Ellsberg from Manning. Why? Because it is more or less an article of faith among progressives that what Ellsberg did was noble and heroic. How, then, can Nixon's persecution of Ellsberg continue to be loathed while Obama's persecution of Manning be cheered?

Hence the importance of differentiating Ellsberg's actions from those in which Manning is accused of engaging. That Ellsberg himself has repeatedly said that Manning's alleged acts are identical to his own both in content and motive -- and that he considers Manning a hero -- is obviously problematic for that cause, but the justifying show must go on.

6) Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq, AP reports. In his own memoir, Bush blamed an "intelligence failure" for the baseless claim of Iraq WMD, a reference to a 2002 U.S. intelligence assessment contending WMD were being built. But that assessment itself offered no concrete evidence, and Bush and his aides have never explained why the U.S. position was not changed as on-the-ground U.N. findings came in before the invasion.

Pakistan

7) The main supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan was closed on Sunday after thousands of people blocked a key highway in Pakistan to protest against U.S. drone strikes, Reuters reports. The call for blocking the supply line came from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan after U.S. officials rejected Pakistan's demand for sharp cuts in drone strikes. Activists from Khan's party staged a sit-in on the highway. "It is meant to send a message outside that we oppose drone strikes. We will never accept them," said a party official.

Bahrain

8) The union movement around the world and in the US is calling on the government of Bahrain to lift its state of emergency and halt its the all-out attack against union members, the AFL-CIO reports. The ITUC reports that thousands of workers have been dismissed for taking part in trade union activities in support of peaceful calls for greater democracy and reform. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Gates, President Trumka called for "urgent political intervention…to stop [Bahrain's] descent into dictatorship." The AFL-CIO called for the US to give notice that it was withdrawing from the US trade agreement with Bahrain in response to the failure of Bahrain's government to comply with its commitments under the agreement by repressing peaceful protests and the attacks on the trade unions.

Iraq
9) Thousands of Iraqis rallied in Mosul Sunday in one of the biggest protests yet against any extension of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, Reuters reports. "We are trying to put pressure on the government to not even think about extending the presence of Americans, who brought havoc to our country," said the chief of the Badrani tribe in Mosul.

Afghanistan
10) The Taliban staged an audacious prison break in Kandahar early Monday, freeing at least 476 political prisoners through a long tunnel, the New York Times reports. In a deft propaganda ploy, the Taliban gave a gripping description of the prison break in a statement they sent out to the news media ahead of any comment from the security authorities who were just in the process of discovering the tunnel, the NYT says. "We have planned and worked on this for five months, and the tunnel is 360 meters long," a Taliban spokesman said. "This was very important for us; we were trying to not leave anyone behind, not even one sick or old political prisoner."

Syria
11) The U.S. is readying sanctions against senior officials in Syria who are overseeing a violent crackdown as Washington and Europe suggest the regime of President Assad is increasingly fragile, the Wall Street Journal reports. Unilateral sanctions by Washington wouldn't have much direct impact on Assad's inner circle. But countries in Europe, where the Assads are believed to have more substantial assets, will be pressured to follow Washington's lead.

Libya
12) Human Rights Watch accused Libyan rebels of failing to honor a pledge not to use land-mines, the BBC reports. HRW says the use of PRB-M3 mines and the manner in which they have been laid in Libya make them particularly dangerous to non-combatants. "The rebels should immediately cease the use of all types of mines if they want to avoid civilian casualties as they have pledged," HRW said.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Gaddafi compound hit in Nato attack
Libyans claim Nato directly targeting Gaddafi in violation of UN resolution after office building and reception area damaged
Harriet Sherwood, Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011 17.28 BST
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/25/gaddafi-compound-hit-nato-attack

Tripoli - Nato appeared to be targeting Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle after two air strikes in three days hit sites in or near the Tripoli compound from where the Libyan leader is believed to direct government strategy in the civil war.

At least two large missiles or bombs struck a multi-storey office building in Bab al-Aziziya, the sprawling complex in the centre of Tripoli, shortly after midnight on Monday. Another building, a ceremonial reception area where Gaddafi hosted a delegation from the African Union two weeks ago, was badly damaged. A Libyan government spokesman claimed three people were killed in the attack.

The office building housed a library regularly frequented by Gaddafi, according to officials. Its roof caved under the impact of the strike, the ground over a wide area was covered in shattered masonry, broken glass and metal, and pools of water formed between piles of rubble. Three hours after the blast, thick dust was still in the air when foreign journalists were taken to the site.

The Libyan leader's location was not known, but a senior Libyan government official told the Guardian: "It was very close." Nato was directly targeting Gaddafi, he claimed. "It's getting worse and worse."

The strike came as it emerged that the British defence secretary, Liam Fox, is heading to the US for talks on the military campaign with his counterpart Robert Gates. The discussions are expected to focus on the best way of stepping up Nato attacks on Gaddafi's forces, after the US decided to bring its unmanned Predator drones into play.

Figures close to the regime claim that Nato is attempting to assassinate Gaddafi. The Libyan leader has rarely been seen in public since the crisis began around 10 weeks ago. Government officials say Nato is acting in violation of the terms of the UN security council resolution that authorised air strikes to protect Libyan civilians.

Hours before the strikes, the US senator Lindsey Graham called for Nato to "cut the head of the snake off". Gaddafi "needs to wake up every day wondering 'will this be my last?'," the Republican member of the Senate armed service committee told CNN.
[...]

2) Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison
Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts
Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held
172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release
David Leigh, James Ball, Ian Cobain and Jason Burke, The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/25/guantanamo-files-lift-lid-prison

More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America's controversial prison camp in Cuba.

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called "worst of the worst", many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The 759 Guantánamo files, classified "secret", cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there.

The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about "suspicious phone numbers" found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of "his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders"
[...]
- A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton, Jamal al-Harith, was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. The US military tried to hang on to another Briton, Binyam Mohamed, even after charges had been dropped and evidence emerged he had been tortured.

- US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated.
[...]
The files also detail how many innocents or marginal figures swept up by the Guantánamo dragnet because US forces thought they might be of some intelligence value.

One man was transferred to the facility "because he was a mullah, who led prayers at Manu mosque in Kandahar province, Afghanistan … which placed him in a position to have special knowledge of the Taliban". US authorities eventually released him after more than a year's captivity, deciding he had no intelligence value.

Another prisoner was shipped to the base "because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khowst and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver".

The files also reveal that an al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years, partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network.

His dossier states that one of the reasons was "to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL".
[...]

3) Why The U.S. Military Fell In Love With 'Tea'
Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, Thursday, April 21, 2:12 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-us-military-fell-in-love-with-three-cups-of-tea/2011/04/20/AFWqYaJE_story.html

[Jaffe is a military correspondent for the Post]

Spend some time with U.S. Army officers, and this much is clear: They are obsessed with drinking tea. At times, tea can seem a bit like the military's secret weapon. A young U.S. officer bonds with an Afghan elder over cups of the brew, and soon they are working side by side to win the locals' trust and drive out the insurgents.

Much of the military's belief in tea culture can be traced back to Greg Mortenson and his memoir, "Three Cups of Tea," a book touted by top commanders and devoured by younger officers.

But Mortenson has recently had to fend off allegations that big chunks of his memoir, which chronicles his work to build schools in some of the most remote and violent areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are lies. Both "60 Minutes" and writer Jon Krakauer have alleged that Mortenson has misused money donated to the charity he formed. Mortenson has defended his memoir as largely true and denied any financial impropriety.

The allegations are rippling through the publishing industry, which has seen this sort of scandal before, and through high schools and universities across the country that placed the bestseller on their required reading lists.

But the scandal's most far-reaching impact could be on the U.S. military, which was quick to embrace Mortenson's message that one American could help change the lives of Afghans and bring light and learning to a troubled part of the world. His recipe for winning the war on terror was tantalizingly simple: By building schools - especially girls' schools - in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mortenson and his backers could vanquish Islamic extremism.

"The U.S. military was just dying for his story to be true," said Celeste Ward Gventer, who was a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Baghdad during some of the darkest days of the Iraq war. "They were dying to believe that this one guy learned the culture, earned the Afghans' respect and helped them build a better society."

Mortenson's military celebrity took off about the same time that the Afghanistan war started to founder. Officers who had done multiple tours in Iraq but had little experience in Afghanistan went searching for someone who could explain a deeply alien culture to them. "Three Cups of Tea" and the follow-up "Stones Into Schools" were much more fun to read than the military's counterinsurgency doctrine and carried a far more uplifting message. Never mind that the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai sometimes seemed like a poorly managed kleptocracy, his books seemed to say. Pay no attention to the fact that Afghanistan often could be a brutish and inhospitable place.

Mortenson's narratives of wise, patient and kind Afghan and Pakistani elders made it seem as though progress in Afghanistan was achievable. All U.S. troops had to do was learn the Afghan culture, show some patience and deliver a little bit of progress, and the Afghans would see the U.S. military's good intentions and turn against the Taliban. In this formulation, counterinsurgency - a complex, morally ambiguous and frequently bloody type of war - came to look a bit like social work with guns.

By mid-2009, Mortenson was making the rounds at military bases across the country and meeting with top officers such as Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gens. David H. Petraeus and Stanley A. McChrystal heralded his work. The mountain-climber-turned-philanthropist visits about two dozen posts each year to lecture troops deploying to Afghanistan on "the nuances of tribal warfare," according to a U.S. Army Web site. Dog-eared and dirt-encrusted copies of his memoir can be found at the most remote Afghan outposts. In April, he was the keynote speaker at a major U.S. Army strategy conference on the future of the Army officer corps and officer ethics.
[...]
Mortenson's biggest impact, however, is evident in the writings of Army officers who embraced his call to tea. Last year, Lt. Col. Patrick Gaydon and Capt. Jonathan Pan wrote of their alliance with Haji Abdul Jabar, a district governor in Afghanistan's violent Arghandab district.

"Like Greg Mortenson's best seller, Three Cups of Tea, our relationship with Jabar was forged over chai during the late summer and fall of 2009," the two officers wrote in a piece for Small Wars Journal, a Web site where military officers debate battlefield strategy.

Jabar was courteous but reserved when he first met the two earnest soldiers. Once he came to know Gaydon and Pan, his reserve melted away, according to the officers, and Jabar treated them as family.

Jabar was killed as he drove home from work last June, a sign that "stabilization was working in Arghandab," according to Gaydon and Pan. (The somewhat tortured thesis is that the Taliban killed him because his work with the Americans was winning the support of previously indifferent locals, thus threatening the Taliban's power base.) The story could have been lifted right from the pages of Mortenson's collected works.

But the reality wasn't quite as cheery. Other U.S. officials working in the area concluded that Jabar was skimming funds earmarked for U.S. reconstruction in his district but not sharing the spoils with others in the area. "It was a mob hit," one U.S. official told The Washington Post. "We were getting played the whole time."

Not everything about the military's embrace of Mortenson's tea philosophy has been counterproductive. "I'd say the biggest value of Mortenson's work was in creating the 'don't be a jerk' school of counterinsurgency," said Joshua Foust, who worked as an Afghanistan analyst for the Army. "I think it would be a shame to abandon the idea of trying to respect the people you're trying to reform with guns and money just because one of the people promoting the concept is shown to be a fraud."

In the near term, Mortenson's stumble will almost certainly lead to greater soul-searching among officers who have been questioning not only Mortenson but also the broader hearts-and-minds approach of this war. And the controversy is likely to spur more discussion about the limits of American goodwill and influence in a place such as Afghanistan.

"No amount of tea with Afghans will persuade them that we are like them, that our war is their war or that our interests are their interests," said Michael Miklaucic, a longtime official with the U.S. Agency for International Development who is currently serving at the Pentagon's National Defense University. "The war in Afghanistan isn't about persuasion or tea. It is about power."

4) Obama says Manning 'broke the law'
MJ Lee and Abby Phillip, Politico, April 22, 2011 06:09 PM EDT
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53601.html

President Barack Obama's assertion at a recent California fundraiser that Bradley Manning "broke the law" may have run afoul of presidential protocol, according to legal analysts who have been tracking the case of the Army private charged in the WikiLeaks case.

"I have to abide by certain classified information," Obama said on a video that quickly began to circulate among media outlets Friday. "If I was to release stuff, information that I'm not authorized to release, I'm breaking the law. … We're a nation of laws. We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. … He broke the law."

Obama's remarks Thursday were made after a group of protesters interrupted him with a song pleading for Manning's release. Obama had completed his speech and was circulating through the room when Logan Price, a 27-year-old activist, said he went up to the president and asked why he hadn't addressed the concerns of the protesters.
[...]
But the president's comment that Manning "broke the law" drew immediate fire from some tracking Manning's case. "The comment was not appropriate because it assumes that Manning is guilty," Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told POLITICO. "The president got carried away and misspoke. No one should mistake a charge for a conviction - especially the nation's highest official."

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice and military law expert, predicted that before the end of the day, the White House will have issued a corrective statement. "Commenting on Manning's conditions of confinement is one thing - I would have strongly advised him to not comment about Manning's guilt," Fidell told POLITICO.
[...]
And what about Obama's assertion that "I have to abide by certain rules of classified information?" There seems to be an error in this assumption too, as the president has the power to define and authorize what information is considered "classified."

"It's a misstatement: It presumes that the classification rules are a matter of law, when in fact they are a matter of they are based in executive order," Aftergood said. "There are rules and procedures governing the de-classification process, but those rules also are based in presidential authority. The president has supreme authority over what is classified."

In other words, Obama can "declassify" anything he wants, Fidell said. "That one got away from him a little. In a way, it's a hypothetical that could never happen."
[...]

5) President Obama speaks on Manning and the rule of law
Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Saturday, Apr 23, 2011 11:24 ET
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/04/23/manning/index.html
[...]
Then, in response to Price's raising the case of Daniel Ellsberg, we have this from Obama: "No it wasn't the same thing. Ellsberg's material wasn't classified in the same way."

What Obama said there is technically true, but not the way he intended. Indeed, the truth of the matter makes exactly the opposite point as the one the President attempted to make. The 42 volumes of the Pentagon Papers leaked by Ellsberg to The New York Times were designated "TOP SECRET": the highest secrecy designation under the law. By stark contrast, not a single page of the materials allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was marked "top secret"; to the contrary, it was all marked "secret" or "classified": among the lowest level secrecy classifications. Using the Government's own standards, then, the leak by Ellsberg was vastly more dangerous than the alleged leak by Manning.

(And the notion that Ellsberg's leak was limited and highly selective is absurd; he passed on thousands of pages to the New York Times in the form of 42 full volumes worth. Among the documents leaked by Ellsberg were some of the nation's most sensitive cryptography and eavesdropping methods: documents The New York Times withheld from publication upon the NSA's insistence that their publication would gravely harm American national security [see p. 388 and fn 170]. By contrast, none of the documents allegedly leaked by Manning comes close to anything as potentially damaging or sensitive as that.)

But it has long been vital for Obama officials and the President's loyalists to distinguish Ellsberg from Manning. Why? Because it is more or less an article of faith among progressives that what Ellsberg did was noble and heroic. How, then, can Nixon's persecution of Ellsberg continue to be loathed while Obama's persecution of Manning be cheered? After all, even the hardest-core partisan loyalists can't maintain contradictions that glaring in their heads; they need to be given a way to distinguish them.

Hence the importance of differentiating Ellsberg's actions from those in which Manning is accused of engaging. That Ellsberg himself has repeatedly said that Manning's alleged acts are identical to his own both in content and motive -- and that he considers Manning a hero -- is obviously problematic for that cause, but the justifying show must go on.

Thus do we have Obama's backward claim that "Ellsberg's material wasn't classified in the same way," when the reality is that The Pentagon Papers were deemed far, far more sensitive by the U.S. Government than the documents published by WikiLeaks. Indeed, from every objective metric, Ellberg's leak was a far graver compromise of national security secrets than Manning's alleged leak; if they're to be distinguished, it would be in favor of defending Manning, not defending Ellsberg (and while it's true that Obama didn't order the break-in of Manning's psychiatrist's office, it's also true Nixon never ordered Ellsberg confined to 23-hour-a-day pre-trial solitary confinement and forced nudity).
[...]

6) ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team
Charles J. Hanley, AP, Fri Apr 22, 3:25 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110422/ap_on_re_us/us_elbaradei_memoir

New York - Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.

The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception," being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.

The 68-year-old legal scholar, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 and recently a rallying figure in Egypt's revolution, concludes his 321-page account of two decades of "tedious, wrenching" nuclear diplomacy with a plea for more of it, particularly in the efforts to rein in North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

"All parties must come to the negotiating table," writes ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the IAEA in 2005. He repeatedly chides Washington for reluctant or hardline approaches to negotiations with Tehran and Pyongyang.

He is harshest in addressing the Bush administration's 2002-2003 drive for war with Iraq, when ElBaradei and Hans Blix led teams of U.N. inspectors looking for signs Saddam Hussein's government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.


He tells of an October 2002 meeting he and Blix had with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others, at which the Americans sought to convert the U.N. mission into a "cover for what would be, in essence, a United States-directed inspection process."

The U.N. officials resisted, and their teams went on to conduct some 700 inspections of scores of potential weapons sites in Iraq, finding no evidence to support the U.S. claims of weapons of mass destruction.

In his own memoir, published last November, Bush still insisted it was right to invade to remove a "homicidal dictator pursuing WMD." But the ex-president also wrote of a "sickening feeling" when no arms turned up after the invasion, and blamed an "intelligence failure" for the baseless claim, a reference to a 2002 U.S. intelligence assessment contending WMD were being built.

But that assessment itself offered no concrete evidence, and Bush and his aides have never explained why the U.S. position was not changed as on-the-ground U.N. findings came in before the invasion.

ElBaradei cites examples, including the conclusion by his inspectors inside Iraq that certain aluminum tubes were designed for artillery rockets, not for uranium enrichment equipment to build nuclear bombs, as Washington asserted.

The IAEA chief reported this conclusion to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27, 2003, and yet on the next day Bush - in a "remarkable" response - delivered a State of the Union address in which he repeated the unfounded claim about aluminum tubes, ElBaradei notes.

Similar contradictions of expert findings occurred with the claim, based on a forgery, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, and an Iraqi exile's fabrication that "mobile labs" were producing biological weapons.

"I was aghast at what I was witnessing," ElBaradei writes of the official U.S. attitude before the March 2003 invasion, which he calls "aggression where there was no imminent threat," a war in which he accepts estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed.

In such a case, he suggests, the World Court should be asked to rule on whether the war was illegal. And, if so, "should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a 'war crime' and determine who is accountable?"

Formidable political and legal barriers would seem to rule out such an investigation. But ElBaradei, citing the war-crimes prosecution of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, sees double standards that should end. "Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again?" he asks.

Pakistan
7) Pakistanis rally against drone strikes, block NATO supply route
Aizaz Mohmand, Reuters, Sun, Apr 24 2011
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/24/us-pakistan-nato-idUSTRE73N0MR20110424

Peshawar, Pakistan - The main supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan was temporarily closed on Sunday after thousands of people blocked a key highway in Pakistan to protest against U.S. drone strikes, officials said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, however, said the two-day blockade would have no impact on the alliance's operations in Afghanistan.
[...]
The routes through Pakistan bring in 40 percent of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to the United States Transportation Command. Of the remainder, 40 percent come through Afghanistan's neighbors in the north and 20 percent by air.

The call for blocking the supply line came from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan after U.S. officials rejected Pakistan's demand for sharp cuts in drone strikes in its tribal regions where al Qaeda and Taliban militants are based.

Activists from Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), Khan's party, and some Islamist parties staged a sit-in on the highway leading to Afghanistan through the Pashtun tribal region of Khyber.

"It is meant to send a message outside that we oppose drone strikes. We will never accept them," Asad Qaiser, PTI president in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said.

The supply to Afghanistan through Khyber region had been suspended since the protest started on Saturday, a senior provincial government official, Siraj Ahmed, said.
[...]

Bahrain
8) Global Union Movement Calls for End to Repression in Bahrain
James Parks, AFL-CIO, Apr 21, 2011
http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/21/global-union-movement-calls-for-end-to-repression-in-bahrain/

[follow link above to many links in the original.]

The union movement around the world and in the United States is calling on the government of Bahrain to lift its state of emergency and halt its the all-out attack against union members.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reports that thousands of workers have been dismissed for taking part in trade union activities in support of the peaceful calls for greater democracy and reform. More than 750 union members and half of the leaders of the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU) also have been dismissed from their jobs.

Bahrain is sliding into absolute dictatorship, the ITUC says, and the "elimination of trade union activity is being given a high priority by those in the ruling circles who intend to complete the transformation of the country into a totalitarian state."

You can take action now. Join LabourStart's campaign here and send a letter to Bahrain's king demanding an end to the attacks. Or click here to join the Building and Wood Worker's International (BWI) in demanding the reinstatement of the union workers.

In a letter April 15 to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called for "urgent political intervention…to stop [Bahrain's] descent into dictatorship." Trumka said he was concerned about the "intense and escalating attack" on the GFBTU. Trumka adds:

"The trade union movement in Bahrain is critical to democratic and peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic society…The Department should demand of its counterparts an end to the extraordinary repression taking place at the doorstep of one of America's largest military installations (U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet). Any lesser response to this crisis undermines our moral authority."

Also today, the AFL-CIO filed a complaint with the Office of Trade & Labor Affairs over the failure of Bahrain's government to comply with its commitments under the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement by repressing peaceful protests and the attacks on the GFBTU. Click here to read Trumka's letter and here for the FTA complaint.

Finally, the International Labor Organization (ILO), an arm of the United Nations condemned the crackdown on union members and announced it is sending a high-level mission to Bahrain to discuss the situation in the country.

Iraq
9) Iraqis rally against extending U.S. troops presence
Jamal al-Badrani, Reuters, Sun, Apr 24 2011
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/24/us-iraq-protests-idUSTRE73N21C20110424

Mosul, Iraq -Thousands of Iraqis rallied in the northern city of Mosul Sunday in one of the biggest protests yet against any extension of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Protests have swelled in the city since April 9 -- the eighth anniversary of the day U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad -- but remain peaceful.

Sunday, around 5,000 people, including provincial council members and tribal leaders, rallied in the main square against extending the U.S. troops presence beyond the year-end deadline. "We are trying to put pressure on the government to not even think about extending the presence of Americans (in Iraq), who brought havoc to our country," said Sheikh Barzan al-Badrani, chief of the Badrani tribe in Mosul.
[...]
Rallies against an extension of U.S. troops in Iraq have also been held in Baghdad in recent days by the followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who have vowed to escalate military resistance if U.S. troops stay beyond December 31.
[...]
Tribes from other Iraqi cities including Ramadi and Falluja in the west, Najaf in the south and Kirkuk in the north, have all travelled to Mosul to express their support for an exit of U.S. troops by the end of the year.
[...]

Afghanistan
10) Taliban Help Hundreds Tunnel Out of Prison's Political Wing
Taimoor Shah and Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, April 25, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/asia/25afghanistan.html

Kandahar, Afghanistan - The Taliban staged an audacious prison break here early Monday, freeing at least 476 political prisoners through a long tunnel, according to the warden, Gen. Ghulam Dastagir Mayar.

He said that security authorities had discovered in the morning that the prisoners from the political wing of the building were gone, and that the authorities had just found the tunnel. "We do not know if the tunnel was dug from outside or inside the prison," he said.

The Kandahar prison is the largest and most substantial prison in southern Afghanistan, and it houses Taliban who were captured in Zabul, Oruzgan and Kandahar, including some senior Taliban figures as well as many lower level Taliban, according to security officers working with the prison.

It was the second time there has been a major prison break at the Sariposa prison in Kandahar. The Taliban orchestrated the freeing of 1,200 prisoners, of whom 350 were Taliban members, on June 13, 2008, staging an attack on the prison that killed 15 guards.
[...]
In a deft propaganda ploy, the Taliban gave a gripping description of the prison break in a statement they sent out to the news media ahead of any comment from the security authorities who were just in the process of discovering the tunnel.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in the statement: "We have planned and worked on this for five months, and the tunnel is 360 meters long," he said. "This was very important for us; we were trying to not leave anyone behind, not even one sick or old political prisoner."
[...]

Syria
11) U.S. Seeks to Raise Heat on Syria
Jay Solomon, Nour Malas and Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704489604576282762981205864.html

Washington - The U.S. is readying sanctions against senior officials in Syria who are overseeing a violent crackdown as Washington and Europe suggest the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly fragile.

The Obama administration is drafting an executive order empowering the president to freeze the assets of these senior Syrian officials and ban them from any business dealings in the U.S., according to officials briefed on the deliberations.

Unilateral sanctions by Washington on Syrian officials wouldn't have much direct impact on Mr. Assad's inner circle, as most regime members have few holdings in the U.S. But countries in Europe, where the Assads are believed to have more substantial assets, will be pressured to follow Washington's lead, the officials involved in the discussions said.

The legal order is expected to be completed by the U.S. Treasury Department in the coming weeks, these officials said. The move indicates a hardening of the Obama administration's policy toward Mr. Assad, whose family has ruled the country for four decades.

If Mr. Obama imposes new sanctions on Syria, it will mark a break from his initial efforts of seeking rapprochement with Mr. Assad. Over the past two years, the U.S. has eased some of the financial penalties imposed on Damascus by the George W. Bush administration. And in January, Mr. Obama returned a U.S. ambassador to Syria for the first time in nearly six years.

The U.S. in 2004 imposed expansive trade sanctions on Syria, barring virtually all imports or exports between Washington and Damascus. Mr. Bush also imposed financial penalties on Syria officials for their alleged support of militants in Iraq and involvement in corruption.

A new executive order would specifically target Syrian officials for human-rights abuses.

Still, a number of the U.S.'s Mideast allies, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, remain wary of destabilizing the Assad regime. Israel fears an even more radical government coming to power in Damascus, while Arab leaders worry it could foment more revolutions in the region. U.S. officials say Washington's cautious approach toward Damascus has been fueled, in part, by these concerns.

Syria's opposition is a mix of secular-nationalists, former members of Mr. Assad's Baath political party, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Analysts say it's very difficult to predict what type of regime could replace Mr. Assad's.

The latest move toward sanctions, which appears similar to the tactic the U.S. used against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi after his crackdown, would come as international opinion turns against the Syrian regime, which has killed about 200 protesters since unrest began in the country around a month ago. More than 80 protesters were killed on Friday and Saturday as tens of thousands tried to demonstrate against the regime in cities across the country. The outpouring of resentment and anger by Syrian citizens has surprised many observers, and the violence unleashed against protesters has even shaken the support of countries that have long sought engagement with Syria, such as France and the U.K.

The intensifying crackdown has significantly diminished hope in Washington and Europe that Mr. Assad can embrace meaningful reforms, U.S. and European officials involved in the sanctions deliberations said. Doubts are also growing in the Obama administration and among its allies that Mr. Assad will survive the uprising. "We don't see how Assad can push this genie back in the bottle," a senior European official said. "It's too late for him to get ahead of the curve politically."

Human-rights groups are pressing the White House to specifically name Mr. Assad and members of his family who oversee Syria's security apparatus. Mr. Assad's younger brother, Maher al-Assad, heads an army special forces unit alleged to be playing a central role in the crackdown. The president's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, is deputy chief of the Syrian army.
[...]
The crowds of protesters, though numbering in the tens of thousands across the country, remained markedly smaller and less concentrated than those in Tunisia and Egypt that ultimately forced the resignations of their leaders earlier this year. And President Assad appears to retain a base of strong support from well-off Syrians in the big cities and among minority groups, such as Syria's substantial Christian population, some of whom fear their fortunes would sour if Mr. Assad's ardently secular regime weren't there to protect them.

However, on Saturday, two parliamentarians and the top cleric in the southern city of Deraa resigned, apparently over the president's handling of the protests. In Daraa, Homs, and the Damascus suburb of Douma, citizens are defying the state, using international cellphone numbers to feed information to the outside world.
[...]
The U.S., in addition to the sanctions move, is pressing to get Syria's human-rights record addressed through the United Nations. The State Department is lobbying U.N. members to block Damascus's efforts to win a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. The U.S. is also seeking a special session of the Council in the coming weeks to address Syria's political crackdown, as well as repressive actions by other Middle East governments.

The White House's National Security Council has begun holding meetings with Syrian opposition figures in recent weeks, according to people who have taken part in the discussions. The Obama administration has voiced concern about the lack of unity among the Syrian protestors and is seeking to learn more about their demands and leaders, these officials said.

Libya
12) Libya conflict: Rebels accused of reneging on mines vow
Stuart Hughes, BBC News, 19 April 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13138102

Human rights campaigners have accused rebels in Libya of failing to honour a pledge not to use land-mines in their fight against Muammar Gaddafi. The BBC filmed rebels planting anti-vehicle mines near the key town of Ajdabiya at the weekend.

Human Rights Watch researchers said mines had been laid despite rebel assurances they would not be used. The organisation has already gathered evidence of use of mines and cluster munitions by Col Gaddafi's forces.

Devices filmed by the BBC at the weekend have been identified as PRB-M3 anti-tank mines produced in Belgium during the 1970s and 1980s.

Tens of thousands of the mines, which are cased in plastic and contain almost 7kg (15lb) of explosives, have been found stockpiled in depots in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

"Despite their promises not to use any kind of mines, the video footage clearly shows rebel fighters laying anti-vehicle mines on the outskirts of Ajdabiya," Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told BBC News. "We call on the rebel authorities to formalise their pledge not to use mines, to clearly command their forces not to use any type of mines, and to clear and secure any remaining mines."

The weapons used by the rebels fall outside the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, which bans anti-personnel but not anti-vehicle land-mines. Libya has not signed the treaty.

However, campaigners say mines such as the PRB-M3 are often deployed in violation of international humanitarian law.

HRW says the use of PRB-M3 mines and the manner in which they have been laid in Libya make them particularly dangerous to non-combatants. Because they are made of plastic, it is hard for de-mining teams to detect them. Areas mined by the rebels appear not to have been marked or mapped, making any future clearance efforts more difficult.

Variants of the weapon held in rebel stockpiles can also be booby-trapped or fitted with a sensitive fuse.

Although the devices are designed to be triggered by the weight of a vehicle, the pressure caused by stepping on a device fitted with a sensitive fuse can be enough to cause an explosion. Campaigners say this, in effect, makes the weapon an anti-personnel landmine.

"While not specifically banned, these anti-vehicle mines are being used by the rebels without any precautions to avoid civilian casualties and that violates their obligations under international law," said Mr Bouckaert. "The rebels should immediately cease the use of all types of mines if they want to avoid civilian casualties as they have pledged," he added.

-

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just Foreign Policy News is here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog/dailynews


Tags:

The loan suppose to be important for people, which would like to ground their own career. As a fact, it's easy to get a student loan.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • No HTML tags allowed
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.