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February 6, 2009

British court \’threatened\’ by United States

British court ‘threatened’ by United States

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Politics and conflicts
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Judges in England’s High Court of Justice have said that the United States threatened to withdraw anti-terrorism intelligence cooperation if they revealed part of a Guantanamo Bay detainee’s case.

However, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband denied the threat had occurred, telling the House of Commons that it was usual practice for intelligence material to remain controlled by the country that collected it. He reaffirmed that the British government did not want the material released because doing so would “cause real and significant damage to the national security and international relations of this country”.

Binyam Mohamed, a British resident but not a citizen, was arrested by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2002. From there, he claims, he was moved to other locations where he was tortured on behalf of U.S. operatives (a process known as “extraordinary rendition”) with the knowledge of UK intelligence agencies before being sent to the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. said he had planned a “dirty bomb” terrorist attack, but, after holding him for 4 years under the threat of the death penalty, dropped the charges.

Mohamed says that any evidence against him was based on what he said under torture and asked the High Court to force the government to reveal any documentation they held that would prove this. The judges have agreed, but have not published the material. Following the Foreign Secretary’s statement to parliament, Mohamed’s lawyers have written to the court to ask the judges to now publish. They say that, since Milliband has denied that the United States made the threat, the judges’ decision to withhold it no longer applied.

File photo of captives in Guantanamo Bay in 2002
Image: Shane T. McCoy.

Mohamed claims to have spent 550 days being tortured for information in Morocco. He says his genitals were repeatedly cut with a razor blade to make him confess. The court case in London is part of his bid to force the UK government to release evidence it holds that he claims shows the U.S. was directly involved in the torture. A British official was also present when he was tortured, he claims.

The court case and the British government’s reaction to it comes at a time when British politicians are adjusting to a new relationship with their American counterparts. The UK was a solid supporter of former President George W. Bush’s “war on terror”, but the British government now faces building a relationship with the new U.S. administration which was elected with plans for a different approach to the subject. The British government has repeatedly denied that it was involved in “extraordinary rendition” and evidence otherwise would be politically damaging.



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February 6, 2008

US lawmakers to question Pentagon officials about war costs

US lawmakers to question Pentagon officials about war costs

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense

In appearances before Congress on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a top military official are expected to underscore decreased violence in Iraq. But they are likely to face strong questioning from lawmakers about ongoing war costs.

When President George W. Bush’s budget for the 2009 fiscal year was sent to Congress this week, Secretary Gates defended the $515 billion request from the Pentagon.

In the overall figure, he noted, are billions of dollars to support U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the administration’s global war on terrorism. “A $70 billion emergency bridge fund that would cover war costs into the next calendar year,” he said.

The story behind that figure is the ongoing struggle between President Bush and the Democratic-controlled United States Congress over war funding.

Last year, the president asked for about $190 billion in a supplemental request outside the regular defense budget for war costs in the current 2008 fiscal year. The amount approved by Congress, just over $86 billion, left a large gap.

When Gates and military Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen appear before the House and Senate armed services committees, they will be pressed for harder cost projections, as Congress continues to assess the impact for the U.S. economy of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

White House Budget Director Jim Nussle was asked this week if the Bush administration has a realistic hope it can obtain its Pentagon regular budget and supplemental war funding requests from an opposition Congress. “It’s worth whatever we need to spend and we have made, I think, a very careful determination of what that is. So, I don’t believe it is just a negotiation point. I think it is what it takes for us to be safe, and to be the kind of super power that can maintain that safety,” he said.

Asked why budget figures do not appear to reflect a reduction in costs because of the eventual withdrawal of about 30,000 troops from Iraq to pre-military surge levels, expected to be complete later this year, Nussle would only refer reporters to the Pentagon.

And while the question of troop levels will be a key topic for lawmakers, in the context of questioning on the overall Pentagon budget, Gates may not provide much in the way of enlightenment.

Media reports quoting testimony prepared for the House and Senate hearings say he will point to what he calls significant variables weighing against making any realistic estimate of how much Congress may be asked for in the final year of the Bush administration.

Based on numerous supplemental requests for Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, members of Congress expect the $70 billion bridge fund to be followed by additional requests to sustain U.S. forces.

As for the $100 billion or so in 2008 supplemental funds that has been held up by bickering between Capitol Hill and the White House, congressional Democrats are looking to testimony in April from the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

That will provide Congress with an update on progress by Iraqi forces toward shouldering more of the security burden, what that means for U.S. troop numbers, and what Americans can expect to be paying as President Bush leaves office and a new administration takes over in 2009.



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April 16, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 16, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 16, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: April 16, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, April 16, 2007.

Benn criticises concept of ‘war on terror’

Hilary Benn in 2005

UK Secretary of State for International Development and deputy Labour leadership candidate Hilary Benn, has criticised US President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ concept in a speech given to the Center on International Cooperation, a US think tank.

Benn’s speech argued that the phrase ‘war on terror’ should be deprecated because it can’t be won by military means alone as well as indicating that the ‘war-on-terror’ concept may have actually assisted terrorist groups by giving them a sense of belonging.

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Sadr ministers leave al-Maliki’s cabinet

Nouri al-Maliki in 2006

Six ministers in radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement have resigned from the Iraqi government, because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not push for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

At a press conference, the head of Sadr’s parliamentary bloc Nassar Rubaie, read a statement from al-Sadr:
“Considering the public interest, we found that it was necessary to issue an order to the ministers of the Sadr bloc to immediately withdraw from the Iraqi government,” The statement continued, “The six ministries shall be handed over to the government itself, hoping that this government would give these responsibilities to independent bodies who wish to serve the interests of the people and the country.”

Al-Maliki was happy the Sadrists respected the political process. The move could have threatened to topple his government, but so far the Sadrist Movement is still part of the ruling coalition.

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Undercover reporter finds corruption and drugs at private prison

HMP Leicester

Investigations undertaken by an undercover journalist, unearthed corruption, intimidation of staff, as well as exposing issues concerning availability of drugs within HMP Rye Hill prison in Warwickshire, a class B facility which is privately run. The investigative journalist finds staff living in fear of their lives and a massive black market in the prison which is run by GSL Group. The company countered that the undercover reporter, did not follow his training as a guard.

BBC’s current affairs programme, Panorama, is scheduled to air an episode about the reporter’s findings.

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UK’s Department of Trade and Industry may be restructured

Alistair Darling

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling said that some MPs have called for the scrapping of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). His statement came as a survey of 145 firms found that only 8% saw the DTI playing an important role. He has, however, said that DTI needed to continue for nuclear decommissioning.

A survey of British by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) found that British companies feel it more difficult to start and grow a business today than ten years ago. On a positive note, of the top 750 European companies, UK companies generated a third of total profits.

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Pipeline firms consolidate in Russia

Oil pipelines

According to Russian officials, Transneft and Transnefteprodukt(TNP) are to merge. The merger will create a “single network of oil and oil products via the pipelines and protect the economic interests of the Russian Federation,” according to a Kremlin Statement. The move would give the companies concerned more power internationally, say analysts.

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree, approving the merger. The Russian government would keep a 75% ownership stake in the combined firm. The merger of firms is to be complete in five months.

Sources


US still seeking missing ex-FBI agent in Iran

For the third time in a month, the United States has requested information about a missing former FBI agent believed to be in Iran. The State Department says Robert Levinson went missing while visiting Kish Island in March. He is retired and is said to have been there on his own business interests.

Iran’s previous responses have been to request more information about Levinson. Each time, the inquiries went through Swiss diplomats.

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  • “Wikinews Shorts: April 3, 2007” — Wikinews, April 3, 2007

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September 30, 2006

Al-Qaeda\’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri appears in new videotape

Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri appears in new videotape

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Al-Qaeda
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Photo from the FBI‘s website of Ayman al-Zawahri.

Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri has appeared in a new videotape in which he calls President George W. Bush a “liar” and a “failure” in the war against terrorism. The video, which is 18 minutes long and titled “Bush, the Pope, Darfur and the Crusades” was released by IntelCenter and was produced by the media agency al-Sahab.

“Can’t you be honest at least once in your life, and admit that you are a deceitful liar who intentionally deceived your nation when you drove them to war in Iraq?” said Zawahiri.

“Bush, you deceitful charlatan, 3 1/2 years have passed since your capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, so how have you found us during this time? Losing and surrendering? Or are we launching attacks with God’s help and becoming martyrs? What you have perpetrated against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other Muslim captives in your prisons and the prisons of your slaves in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and elsewhere is not hidden from anyone, and we are a people who do not sleep under oppression and who do not abandon our revenge until our chests have been healed of those who have committed aggression against us,” added Zawahiri.

“Your agents in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have captured thousands of the youth and soldiers of Islam whom you made to taste at your hands and the hands of your agents various types of punishment and torture. They are countering arguments that individuals have been able to provide useful information and they are continuing to reinforce their intentions for revenge,” continued Zawahiri.

In the video, Zawahiri also criticizes the Pope Benedict XVI for comments he made against Muslims in a speech on September 12, 2006 and also calls for the Pope and all Christians to “become Muslims.”

“This charlatan Benedict brings back to our memories the speech of his predecessor charlatan Urban II in the 11th century … in which he instigated Europeans to fight Muslims and launch the Crusades because he (Urban) claimed ‘atheist Muslims, the enemies of Christ’ are attacking the tomb of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him,” said Zawahiri.

“If Benedict attacked us, we will respond to his insults with good things. We will call upon him and all of the Christians to become Muslims who do not recognize the Trinity or the crucifixion,” added Zawahiri.

Zawahiri also said that sending any peacekeepers to the Darfur Region of Sudan is a “crusader plan” and that all Muslims in the region “should defend themselves.”

“There is a Crusader plan to send Crusaders forces to Darfur that is about to become a new field of the Crusades war. Oh, nation of Islam, rise up to defend your land from the Crusaders aggression who are coming wearing United Nations masks. No one will defend you (Darfur) but a popular holy war,” said Zawahiri.

The U.S. intelligence agency, the CIA has confirmed that the tape is authentic and that the person appearing in the video is Zawahiri.

“After conducting a technical analysis of the videotape, the CIA can confirm with confidence that the voice on the tape is that of Ayman al-Zawahri,” said spokeswoman for the CIA, Michele Neff.

It is not known exactly when the video was made, but United States officials say that it was written after September 12, the day of the Pope’s speech.

This is the 48th video released by al-Qaeda this year. Zawahiri appeared in 14 of those videos.

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August 30, 2006

Jimmy Carter blasts Blair for \”subservience\” to Bush

Jimmy Carter blasts Blair for “subservience” to Bush

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Former US President Jimmy Carter

Former US President Jimmy Carter has accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair of contributing to the crisis in Iraq through lack of leadership and subservience to current US President George W. Bush.

“I have been surprised and extremely disappointed by Tony Blair’s behaviour,” said Carter in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“I think that more than any other person in the world the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington – and he has not. I really thought that Tony Blair, who I know personally to some degree, would be a constraint on President Bush’s policies towards Iraq.”

Carter also said the invasion of Iraq had strengthened al-Qaeda and undermined the war on terrorism.

“In many countries where I meet with leaders and private citizens there is an equating of American policy with Great Britain – with Great Britain obviously playing the lesser role.”

“We now have a situation where America is so unpopular overseas that even in countries like Egypt and Jordan our approval ratings are less than five per cent. It’s a shameful and pitiful state of affairs and I hold your British Prime Minister to be substantially responsible for being so compliant and subservient,” said Carter, 81.

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August 10, 2006

War Crimes Act amendments to indemnify retroactively

War Crimes Act amendments to indemnify retroactively

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Amendments to the War Crimes Act, drafted by the Bush administration, will retroactively indemnify policymakers and government officials from criminal charges for authorizing abuse and torture of prisoners captured in the War on Terrorism campaign.

The White House stated that these amendments “will apply to any conduct by any U.S. personnel, whether committed before or after the law is enacted.” The amendments are intended to be put before Congress after Labor Day, said two anonymous sources claimed to be lawyers currently revising the Act.

According to Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, “I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That’s why it’s so dangerous.” Scott Horton, a fourth attorney examining the amendments, remarked, “The administration is trying to insulate policymakers under the War Crimes Act.”

Currently, the War Crimes Act of 1996 includes the use of capital punishment should prisoners held in U.S. camps die from abuse while detained.

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Wikipedia Learn more about Ex post facto law and the War Crimes Act of 1996 on Wikipedia.
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June 16, 2006

United States House votes against setting date for withdrawal from Iraq

United States House votes against setting date for withdrawal from Iraq

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Friday, June 16, 2006

In a nonbinding resolution, the U.S. House voted 256-153 that an “arbitrary date for withdrawal or redeployment” of U.S. troops is not in the nation’s best interest. The resolution also declared the Iraq War as part the global war on terrorism. 24 representatives did not vote on the resolution.

John Boehner, Republican House Majority Leader, said, “Retreat is not an option in Iraq. Achieving victory is our only option, for the American people and our kids.”

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat House Minority Leader, disagreed saying, “Stay the course? I don’t think so Mr President. It’s time to face the facts. The war in Iraq has been a mistake, I say, a grotesque mistake.”

Despite Pelosi’s opposition to the resolution, 42 Democrats voted in favour of the resolution.

Yesterday the U.S. Senate rejected a proposal to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2006.

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June 15, 2006

War on terrorism memorial planned near Oklahoma Capitol

War on terrorism memorial planned near Oklahoma Capitol

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

A memorial dedicated to Oklahomans killed in the war on terrorism is planned for just north of the Oklahoma Capitol. The memorial would be built next to the proposed Veterans Affairs Department building on the side of Lincoln Boulevard between NW 30 and NE 32.

The plans would also have statues and memorials honoring veterans south of the capital moved to the Veterans Affairs building.

The Veterans Affairs building is part of a $196 million bond issue that will also pay for six other projects. If Oklahoma legislators could take up the measure as early as a special session this month and include it in the state’s 2007 fiscal year. The measure is expected to be raised next year if the bond issue is not acted on this year.

War On Terror Memorial Design Committee will oversee the task of seeking designs for the memorial. Because no state money has been set aside for the memorial, the committee would also raise money for its construction. Similar memorials around the country range in price of $1 million to $2.2 million.

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May 26, 2006

Amnesty Report 2006: disadvantaged pay price of war on terror

Amnesty Report 2006: disadvantaged pay price of war on terror

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Friday, May 26, 2006

The human rights watchdog NGO Amnesty International described 2005 as a year of contradictions with signs of hope for human rights being undermined through “deception and failed promises” of “arrogant” governments. Amnesty International issues annual reports on the development of human rights issues, with detailed reports on the situation in every individual country.

Displaced children at a refugee camp – Darfur, Sudan. Image from Wikimedia commons

At the launch of its 2006 International Report, the Secretary General for Amnesty International (AI), Irene Khan, said that a number of governments have “paralyzed international institutions and squandered public resources in pursuit of narrow security interests, sacrificed principles in the name of the ‘war on terror’ and turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations. As a result, the world has paid a heavy price, in terms of erosion of fundamental principles and in the enormous damage done to the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people”.

According to the release report, Iraq sank into a “vortex of sectarian violence in 2005.” Secretary General Khan warned: “When the powerful are too arrogant to review and reassess their strategies, the heaviest price is paid by the poor and powerless – in this case, ordinary Iraqi women, men and children.” A 2004 Lancet study estimates that 100,000 excess deaths have occurred with roughly three times as many injured since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Continuing her criticism of international bodies, Ms Khan stated that “Intermittent attention and feeble action by the United Nations and the African Union fell pathetically short of what was needed in Darfur,” referring to the conflict that a number of reports estimate has killed over 300,000 people.

Torture

The Amnesty International annual report claims that European governments have been “partners in crime with the United States,” by defying the absolute ban on torture through the alleged use of extraordinary rendition.

The United Kingdom pursued “diplomatic assurances” to deport people to countries where they face torture. “Just as we must condemn terrorist attacks on civilians in the strongest possible terms, we must resist claims by governments that terror can be fought with torture. Such claims are misleading, dangerous and wrong – you cannot extinguish a fire with petrol,” said Ms Khan. “Powerful governments are playing a dangerous game with human rights. The score card of prolonged conflicts and mounting human rights abuses is there for all to see … the ‘war on terror’ is failing and will continue to fail until human rights and human security are given precedence over narrow national security interests,” said Ms Khan.

Amnesty Key Demands

Amnesty International list their key demands in 2006: to address the conflict and end human rights abuses in Darfur; to negotiate for an Arms Trade Treaty to govern the trade of small arms so that they cannot be used to commit human rights abuses; that the US Administration close Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and disclose the names and locations of all ‘war on terror’ prisoners elsewhere; and to insist on equal standards of respect of human rights from all governments, whether in Darfur or Guantánamo, Chechnya or China.

“The political and moral authority of governments will be increasingly judged on their stand on human rights at home and abroad. More than ever the world needs those countries with power and international influence… to behave with responsibility and respect for human rights. Governments must stop playing games with human rights,” declared Ms Khan.

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April 23, 2006

Aljazeera airs new audiotape by Osama bin Laden

Aljazeera airs new audiotape by Osama bin Laden

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

FBI photo of Osama Bin Laden.

Aljazeera has aired a new audiotape it says contains the voice of al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden. The tape is 11 minutes and 26 seconds long, believed to have been made after March 14, 2006.

According to Aljazeera, in the tape, Bin Laden talks about the “situation in Iraq, Palestine and Sudan” and says that the isolation of the Hamas-led Palestine is a “war by crusaders and Zionists against Islam.”

“I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us. The war goes on and the people are renewing their allegiance to its rulers and masters. They send their sons to armies to fight us and they continue their financial and moral support while our countries are burned and our houses are bombed and our people are killed,” said bin Laden.

“The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusaders war on Islam. I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don’t want to die humiliated or deceived. The war is a responsibility shared between the people and the governments. They do not want a truce unless it is from our side only. They insist on continuing their crusader campaign against our nation and to loot our wealth,” he added.

Bin Laden also talked about Sudan saying, “I call on mujahedeen and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arab peninsula, to prepare for long war again the crusader plunderers in Western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but to defend Islam, its land and its people. The politicians of the West do not want dialogue except for the sake of dialogue to drag us on, for them to gain more time. They want an armistice that is observed only by us.”

The United States has since said that they believe the tape is authentic.

“We just heard from the intelligence community that they believe it’s authentic,” said Scott McClellan, spokesman for the White House.

“We are continuing to take the fight to the enemy abroad and making it difficult for them to plan and plot against Americans. The al Qaeda leadership is on the run and under a lot of pressure. We continue to take all terrorist threats seriously and that is why we are acting on all fronts doing everything within our power to prevail in the war on terrorism,” added McClellan.

Aljazeera last aired an audiotape in January by bin Laden, where he promised new terrorist attacks in the U.S. but also offered the U.S. a “long-term truce.”

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