Thursday, June 15, 2006

Other Items (Phyllis Bennis on KPFA's The Morning Show)

When President Bush ordered Moazzam Begg's release last year from the Guantanamo prison camp, United States officials say, he did so over objections from the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. -- all of which warned that Mr. Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist.
But American officials may not have imagined the sort of adversary Mr. Begg would become in the war of perception that is now a primary front in the American-led campaign against terrorism.
"The issue here is: Apply the law," Mr. Begg told an audience earlier this spring at the Oxford Literary Festival in England, one of many stops on a continuing lecture tour. "If I've committed a crime, we say, take this to court. After all of that, if they can't produce something in court, then shame on them!"
With a new book about his experiences and a small blizzard of media attention, Mr. Begg, a 37-year-old Briton of Pakistani descent, has emerged over the last few months as a minor celebrity in his home country.

The above is from Tim Golden's "Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case" in this morning's New York Times and if tossing around "minor celebrity" about someone who was tortured seems a bit dense (to put it mildly), let's all remember this is Tim Golden who tried to sell the forced feedings as something humane. (Golden's efforts to schill from time to time predate Bully Boy and he's known to go spastic for Bullies if not country.) If Golden's book synopsis seems strange, it's because he hasn't read the book by Begg and Victoria Brittain. Yes, that's right: the book has a co-author. Apparently Brittain's one of those journalists 'taken in' to read Golden. (Brittain was with the Guardian of London.) But who has time to read a book when you've got unnamed Department of Defense officials supposedly reading to you -- supposed declassified portions of the FBI reports on Begg. Why are they nameless?

These are supposed to be, according to Golden's article, declassified portions. There's no reason to grant them anonymity. Did the Times learn nothing from the huge payout they just did in the Wen Ho Lee case? Golden's written an embarrrassing article. As embarrassing as his attempt to sell the US public on forced-feeding (which still goes on) and as embarrassing as some of his worst moments in the last century.

For the record, the British version of the book written by Begg and Brittain details torture. I'm told the American version isn't available in galley forms. So either Golden didn't read the only version available or he allowed Defense Department officials (unnamed) to read 'selected portions' to him. Golden lies in print -- knowingly or not. He should be ashamed. But having tried to sell the public on force-feedings, he knows no shame.

The book, unlike Golden I have read it, also details Bagram -- one of the many prisons the US is running. Strangely, Bagram doesn't get a mention in Golden's article. (Not so strange, probably unnamed Defense Dept. officials skipped those sections when reading to Golden at bed time.)
How can you summarize a book you've obviously failed to read and get away with it? If you're seriously asking that question, you've never read the Times' Sunday book section.

Golden works himself into a snit fit over the fact that Begg moved to Afghanistan during the Taliban's reign. He somehow forgets to note that the US government was happy to host them prior to 9-11. In fact, they were quite popular in DC and in Texas. He doesn't want to explore that but he wants to offer Begg's moving to Afghanistan as somehow unseemly. For the record, I think both were unseemly. But then, as with most feminists, it didn't take September 11th to cause me to speak out against the Taliban. The Times, like most stenographers, was busy writing happy pieces about the Taliban prior to Sept. 11 -- maybe Golden should explore that?

Leaving the fiction-based world of Golden, we'll note Carlotta Gall's "Delegation Seeks Release of Afghans Being Held at Guantanamo:"

An Afghan government delegation to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Wednesday that about half of the 94 Afghans being held there were not guilty of serious crimes and should be released.
The remainder, including several high-level members of the former Taliban government, should be tried in Afghan courts, said the leader of the delegation, Abdul Jabar Sabit, a legal adviser to the Ministry of the Interior.
"The delegation concluded that some of the detainees should not stay longer in prison on the basis of the allegations against them and they must be returned to their country," Mr. Sabit, a former prosecutor, said at a news briefing. "We want to assure our people that the detainees will return to the country."

Remember this from United for Peace & Justice:

ACT NOW: Tell the Senate to Vote to End the War!
Congress has spent years avoiding responsibility for Iraq. But this week, the Senate will vote on several different proposals to bring the troops home and end the war, calling for measures that range from immediate withdrawal to a gradual withdrawal stretched out over 18 months.
This is an important moment in the work of the peace movement -- we have made it impossible for Congress to avoid the issue any longer.
Tell your Senators: The war in Iraq must end immediately and all of the troops must be brought home now!
Call, fax or email both of the Senators from your state today urging them to support legislation to bring all the troops home immediately.

Today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

A look at U.S. soldiers who say no to war in Iraq. We'll hear from themother of a soldier recently arrested for refusing to fight as well as the author of "Mission Rejected," a new book that documents the growing dissent within the military.

And on KPFA's The Morning Show (7:00 am PST), Phyllis Bennis is among the guests this morning (noted by Cindy). The e-mail address for this site is I've got two things to add. Listen to First Voices this morning on WBAI (link added later -- 10:00 am EST) says Rachel and one more thing that I'll put in. There's a rare window to post this morning, so this has to go up now.

Added thing, Erika notes Nina Bernstein's "Judge Rules that U.S. Has Broad Powers to Detain Noncitizens Indefinitely" (New York Times):

But David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and a co-counsel in the lawsuit, said the ruling was the only one of its kind and made New York "an equal protection-free zone" because the government can detain immigrants wherever it chooses.
"What this decision says is the next time there is a terror attack, the government is free to round up every Muslim immigrant in the U.S., based solely on their ethnic and religious identity, and hold them on immigration pretexts for as long as it desires," he said. "We saw after 9/11 what the government did in an era of uncertainty about how far it can go. Judge Gleeson has essentially given them a green light to go much further."
The class-action lawsuit, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, is the first and largest of several brought by immigrants held after 9/11. The named plaintiffs in the case include former detainees who came back to the United States this year for depositions and were required to be in the custody of federal marshals at all times. Among them were Hany Ibrahim, a deli worker, and his brother, Yasser, a Web designer, Egyptian Muslims who said then that putting themselves back in the hands of the government they were suing was an act of faith in America.

Also the snapshot may be late this morning. Blogger/Blogspot has a notice that it will be down later this morning. (Check mirror site.)