Thursday, 7 February 2008

Lies, half truths and failures

The United States admits to torture, and Rice lies over progress in Afghanistan

After months of half truths, mendacity and outright falsehoods, it is finally out in the open: the United States has endorsed the practice of waterboarding.

The Central Intelligence Agency has confirmed that it waterboarded three al-Qaeda suspects at its Guantanamo Bay detention center some five years ago, but has since not engaged in the practice.

Could these three be the subjects of the video tapes that were mysteriously destroyed - despite a very specific court order banning the destruction of any evidence obtained in the interrogations of terror suspects at the Gitmo facility? Interesting times ahead.

Amnesty International has demanded a criminal investigation, describing the method that simulates drowning as torture, pure and simple.

The United Nations has urged the U.S. government to give up its now very hollow defense of waterboarding, calling the practice "absolutely unacceptable" under international law.

The White House, and in a very vague way the Justice Department, maintain that waterboarding does not amount to torture. Having said, when testifying to a Senate committee, Attorney General Michael Mukasey did admit that if he were the subject, then he might consider it to be torture.

Brian Becker, a Washington-based political analyst, says the Bush administration knew that at some point this information would come out, so they've attempted some sort of damage control.

"They've admitted that they've waterboarded three individuals, but not for five years. They are trying to say 'perhaps this is a form of enhanced interrogation that is controversial, but its something far in the past," he told PressTV via satellite during a regular newscast.

"Anyone who has been following the case," he said, "knows the Bush administration has been following a pattern of torture not only at Guantanamo, but also at secret prisons that are housed all over the world. And of course through the use of secret renditions or extraordinary renditions, taking prisoners who have been arrested without any due process to third countries where they are in fact tortured."

Everyone knows this is against the law, its against the United Nations Covenant on Torture, the United States is a signatory to these laws. It was no accident that the announcement was made during Super Tuesday when everyone's focus was elsewhere.

"Obviously the timing of the news release was another part of the cover up," Becker said.

"They knew the news would come out, so they picked a day when all attention would be on the upcoming election. Its is very important that people realize," Becker said, "that the announcement that these three individuals were waterboarded is the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg."

Is it possible that the cover up has failed, and the door to impeachment has been pushed a little further open?

"If the United Nations and if all the international organizations assert as they do that waterboarding is a form of torture, then those officials, including President Bush, including Cheney, including Gonzales, including Rumsfeld, all of them to the extent that they violated international law to which the United States government is a signatory, they must be held responsible for committing what would be declared as high crimes and misdemeanors, in other words, impeachable offenses."

The damage to America's image overseas is incalculable.

"It will fortify the image that the United States has become an Imperial Power, that this is an Imperial Presidency, and contrary to the assertions that this is a government of checks and balances so there is no dictatorial entity that emerges, that the Bush administration in fact - using the pretext of endless war - has accumulated to itself all the powers that a tyrannical regime would enjoy," Becker said.

Meanwhile, the other great cover up story of the day was Condoleezza Rice's attempt to put a brave face on the failure of NATO to subdue the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Speaking in London where she was attempting to encourage NATO allies to throw more young soldiers into the Afghan meat mangler, Rice confidently said progress was being made in Afghanistan.

Since this progress isn't apparent to most of us, we put the question to Jeff Steinberg, Senior Editor of Executive Intelligence Review in New York, what progress is she talking about?

"Condoleezza Rice has no idea what she is talking about," came the quick reply, "the on the ground assessments from American and European military personnel is that the situation is out of control and there is no prospect of deploying a sufficient military force into there to deal with the problem."

Steinberg said about a third of the country is now in the hands of the Taliban, the border areas with Pakistan are control centers for both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, "And my best estimate is that a billion dollars a year is generated in Afghanistan from the sale of the largest opium crop that has ever been produced there, and that about 100 million dollars of that regularly goes to the Taliban. So they've got their own source of funding to keep their operations going."

According to sources, the war in Afghanistan is presenting problems the allies didn't foresee - a bit like Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unkowns that we don't know about." Are these unknowns suddenly making themselves apparent, or was it just a badly conceived campaign from the very start?

"Well it was a badly conceived campaign," Steinberg agreed, "but it was made far far worse by the fact that the Bush administration was committed early on to redirecting forces to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

Essentially, it would appear that Bush made the classic mistake of trying to fight a war on two fronts.

The two war fronts, two wars that have gone on for far longer than ever estimated, has depleted and exhausted the U.S. military, and that of its closest ally, Britain. But despite this, there are still calls for more troops, more sacrifice on the alter of Bush's arrogance and stupidity.

"The American Enterprise Institute, the high palace of neoconservatism in Washington, has just come out with a proposal for 12,000 more American troops to be sent into Southern Afghanistan to wage a counter insurgency war and possibly invade Pakistan," said Steinberg, "Its all madness, its all failed, and the best thing I have to say is that I very much agree with British Politician George Galloway when he said 'Pull the troops out and let the Afghanis sort it out themselves.'"

Things are obviously going so well, at least according to Rice, that she is calling for more troops to fight the Taliban. So why is it that some NATO countries are reluctant to commit troops, especially to areas where they are likely to get shot at?

"Most governments in Europe are fragile coalitions, and they are hypersensitive to things like losses of life of troops in peacekeeping missions. The Europeans are reticent to do the kind of heavy combat that the U.S. forces have been engaged in for the last five years in Iraq. They don't want any part of that," Steinberg said.

So that would leave it to the United States to finish what they started, right?

"The U.S. flat out does not have the troops, and even if they did exist in sufficient numbers, I don't think that this is any way to win that situation."

Steinberg painted a pretty grim picture of the current state of affairs, one that is sharply at odds with the smiling optimism of the Bush administration.

But then, if Iraq is going as well as General Petraeus claims it is, then maybe if the worst comes to the worst in Afghanistan Bush could always send in Blackwater and their friends to finish the job.

Reproduced on:, American Chronicle,

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