Thursday, December 16, 2004

Democracy Now!

From the headlines on Democracy Now!, Brad and Kara both e-mailed saying this should be highlighted:

New Questions Raised About Secret U.S. 'Torture Jet'
Meanwhile more questions are being raised about a US practice of secretly detaining wanted men around the world and then flying them to other countries to be interrogated and jailed.
Just weeks after the press revealed that the U.S. government was secretly leasing a Gulfstream jet from a little known Massachusetts company for such a purpose, the company has sold the plane. The Boston Globe reports Premier Executive Transport Services sold the jet to an Oregon company called Bayard Foreign Marketing two days after an article about the jet appeared in the Sunday Times of London. Almost nothing is known about either company.
The Sunday Times reported the CIA and other government agencies leased the plane and used it over 300 times to pick up detainees around the world and then secretly deliver them to countries inclyding Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan that have poor human rights records and practice torture in their jails.
The plane first gained attention in Sweden. In December 2001 the US government requested Swedish officials detain two Egyptian born men. After the men were detained, the men were secretly flown aboard the Gulfstream to Egypt where they claimed they were drugged by US agents and tortured with electric shocks.
There has been speculation that the plane was sold from one government front company to another. The CIA has a long history of secretly owning airlines. Starting in the 1950s the agency began building up a large network of airlines that eventually included about 200 planes and nearly 20,000 employees, making the agency one of the world's largest airline operators at the time. Among the CIA operated airlines were Air America, Air Asia and Intermountain Aviation.


All of the segments have rush transcripts so if you're unable to listen or view due to using a computer without speakers, you can still read the transcripts.

New Documents Show Marines Tortured Iraqis, Pentagon Admits 8 Detainees Died in U.S. Custody in Afghanistan

Excerpt from the above:

AMY GOODMAN: Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, you have also learned, obtaining documents under the Freedom of Information Act, that in Iraq a number of U.S. soldiers–What is it, thirteen marines?– have been court-martialed for taking part in abuse of detainees. What exactly do you know at this point?

AMRIT SINGH Well, what we received was a summary chart relating to allegations that were, quote, unquote, substantiated. It's hard to tell exactly what happened in each case in great detail. But we know that, dating back to April of 2003, there were specific documented incidents of torture and abuse by United States marines. And the incidents including: The ordering of four Iraqi juveniles to kneel while a pistol was discharged in a mock execution; the burning of a detainee's hands by covering them in alcohol and igniting them; and the shocking of a detainee with an electric transformer, causing the detainee to, quote, dance as he was shocked. And all of these incidents happened at varying times in Iraq at places other than Abu Ghraib, dating back to April of 2003, before the alleged incidents at Abu Ghraib took place. There are also incidents -- we also know of incidents that happened in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib incidents took place from documents turned over by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Goodman's guests for that segment are Amrit Singh (quoted above) with the American Civil Liberties Union and John Sifton with Human Rights Watch.

Unocal Settles Landmark Human Rights Case with Burmese Villagers

For this segment, Goodman's guest is the Center for Justice and Accountability's Sandra Coliver.


AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the people that they brought the lawsuit on behalf of, these 15 Burmese villagers?

SANDRA COLIVER: The suit is brought by these villagers who were among those who were enslaved by the Burmese military as the Unocal and its partners were building this pipeline. In addition to being enslaved and conscripted into clearing the dense forest around which the pipeline had to be built, the Burmese military also terrorized the villages if the young men refused to work for free, under very harsh circumstances. The terror included raping the women, killing people, and insuring that the men could not run away from this enforced labor. Now, none of this is directly attributed to Unocal employees. Rather, what the district court found is that there was substantial evidence that Unocal knowingly assisted the perpetration of these crimes. That was the key issue -- was Unocal as a corporation aiding and abetting the commission of human rights violations.

Inuits to Sue U.S. Over Global Warming

For this report, the guest is Earth Justice's Martin Wagner.


AMY GOODMAN: So, how does this proceed forward?

MARTIN WAGNER: Well, we are putting together a petition that will go to the Inter-American Commission. The Commission will receive the petition. It will forward it to the United States, which is the respondent, the Inuit are arguing that because the United States is responsible for 25% or more of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to this climate change, that the United States has an international obligation to prevent these human rights violations. So, the Commission would forward the petition to the United States, and they would then begin a period of hearing testimony from the Inuit and from lawyers speaking on their behalf, hearing responses from the United States and then ultimately leading to some sort of a determination by the Inter-American Commission about whether this constitutes a violation of human rights. And you rightly noted that the Commission then does not have the authority to order the United States to take any particular action. But the finding by this Commission, which is one of the world's most authoritative bodies on the question of human rights, can have great impact.

Senate Democrats Protest Top Secret Spy Satellite Project

National Security Archive's Jeffrey Richelson (also author of The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology") is Goodman's guest. This topic is one that's gotten a lot of e-mail this week when it's popped up in an entry. This weekend, we'll pull from those e-mails.


AMY GOODMAN: And, shouldn't this be a public discussion? I mean, we're talking about $9.5 billion?

JEFFREY RICHELSON: Yes. I mean, that's one of the problems with the whole -- with the secrecy and concerning the intelligence budget and both -- both for the community as a whole and specifically agencies, is that you can have enormous expenditures of public funds without any real public oversight, and you can see in this case the difficulty even of a major oversight committee in getting a proposal killed if there -- if there are significant forces supporting it who can do so sort of under a veil or behind a veil of secrecy.

CIA Agent Says Bosses Ordered Him To Falsify WMD Reports

Goodman interviews Roy Krieger, the lawyer for the unnamed CIA agent.

ROY KRIEGER: Well, we're talking about events that occurred three years ago, but the harm really occurred just a few months ago. That's in fact when he was fired from the CIA, and the lawsuit is actually -- we filed it fairly quickly after he had been officially notified of his termination. First we had to submit it to the CIA so they could make all of their redactions that you see in it. And then as soon as we got it back, we filed it with the federal court here in Washington D.C., and we had to file it along with a motion seeking permission to proceed in pseudo, that is, not in true name because ordinarily when you file a suit in federal court, you can only sue in your true name and true address, and here his true name is classified.

Charlie wanted me to share his story. His computer access is via a public library and it's open three days during the week and on Saturdays & Sundays. He gets off a little after five each week day and is usually able to arrive at the library before six. He signs up to use on the eight computers his library provides for web usage and, if he's lucky, that means he just has to wait 30 minutes. Some days, it can be an hour. Once he's logged in to the terminal, he has 25 minutes only. A tiny clock displays on the screen and he's reminded when he has ten minutes left and, again, when he has five minutes left.

If the library's not crowded, he'll then sign up again and wait for thirty minutes to an hour. ("Lucky right now, it's getting colder and that means less people.") There are days when he only has the 25 minutes due to the library being crowded or his own schedule. He says he can read the New York Times while he waits his turn for the computer. His niece had told him about this site and he reads it to find out "what the Times isn't covering or isn't getting right." The Democracy Now! transcripts are his favorite links because he hears on Democracy Now! a voice that "I'm just not hearing anywhere else."

Democracy Now! and Buzzflash were the first two links we did on this site. And I realize that many of you are able to go to those links at your leisure. But if highlighting certain stories from Democracy Now! and noting when they have transcripts helps Charlie, we're glad to do it.

Charlie wrote a really nice e-mail yesterday when it was raining "so the library is pretty much empty and I can get on as often as I want." Anytime you're able to write, we enjoy hearing from you and this site will continue to note Democracy Now! stories so don't worry about that. It's a great news source. Charlie used to live in area that carried Laura Flanders' radio program and he asked if I could note what topics she's discussing so we'll try to do that this weekend as well. (The Laura Flanders Show airs on Air America radio Saturday and Sunday nights.) And, Charlie, I'll also try to find another funny Lizz Winstead (Unfiltered) monologue to share this weekend. (If anyone has any ideas or picks for that from this weekend, please e-mail [Air America's web site is]