Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lawsuits, hostages, executions

Today the Tehran Times reports that US District Judge Peter Messitte has allowed a law suit against US-based L-3 (war contractors) to go forward as 72 Iraqis who were held at Abu Ghraib assert "they were beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and underwent electric shocks, mock executions and hanging from their feet, all condcuted by L-3 Service members." Susan Burke is representing the Iraqis, as previously noted, I know Burke (and like her, she's a strong attorney). The Times of Tehran also reports that Hassan Danaei-Far is Iran's new Ambassador to Iraq and that he arrived in Baghdad yesterday. Staying on the topic of Iran, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observed Friday:

Tomorrow marks the year-long detention of three U.S. citizens, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Joshua Fattal, for allegedly crossing into Iran during a hiking vacation in Iraqi Kurdistan. Their release by Iran is long overdue and their continued detention is unjustifiable.
Iran has long espoused to the world its commitment to justice, security and peace for all. We urge Iran to take action in the case of the three hikers – detained for a year in Evin Prison without charge – to match its stated commitments. We call on Iran to do the right thing and allow these three Americans to return home to their families.

AP notes that Iran is currently ranked second (right behind China) for the most executions in 2009 with Iraq coming in third and that it hasn't been in the top five since the start of the US-invasion. No doubt, this is part of the 'success' that the five Democratic governors saw on their recent stop-over in Iraq.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Modest Explanation for that huge intelligence buildup" (Veterans Today):

The Washington Post’s revelations re the amazing growth of the U.S. intelligence community since 2001---so that we now have 1,271 agencies employing more than 854,000 payrollers---makes no sense, until one recognizes that this vast development must be for offensive, not defensive, purposes. The explosion in the spy budget from $30 billion to $75 billion since 9/11 is perplexing until you realize it only parallels what is happening across the broad spectrum of the military-industrial complex. Everywhere you turn, everywhere you look, American militarism is on the march like a thousand Sousa bands blaring at once. According to a report of the Stockholm Internatonal Peace Research Institute, U.S. military spending for 2009 accounted for 43% of the world total, followed by China, with 6.6%; France, 4.2%; and U.K. with 3.8%
Where the U.S. allocated “only” $272-billion for “defense” in fiscal year 2000, today’s “defense” budget is $711 billion. The U.S. Navy, for example, is larger than the next 11 navies of the world combined. At the same time, spending on research involving biological warfare has zoomed steadily since 9/11 to a cumulative total exceeding $50 billion even though no nation poses such a threat to the U.S., and even though the deadly anthrax attacks of October, 2001, emanated not from the Middle East but from Ft. Detrick, Md., a base whose operations are run by the Pentagon, not Osama bin Laden. Again, illustrating USA’s aggressive priorities, the National Institutes of Health of Bethesda, Md., is now spending more money on biological warfare----which killed a total of five Americans in the last decade---than it spends on research to prevent ordinary flu, which does kill 36,000 Americans every year. To its credit, Moscow shuttered its germ warfare ops years ago. Recall, too, that when the Pentagon’s snoops got to Iraq, they found Saddam Hussein but they couldn’t find a single germ. So what’s the big buildup for?
At any given time, the Pentagon has about $1 trillion or more in ongoing research to refine existing, (example: nuclear bombs) and to create new, (example: robots) killing machines to dominate the planet militarily. The vast intelligence apparatus The Post uncovered (The National Security Agency alone is sifting through more than 1.7 billion telephone calls and e-mails daily), makes no sense when the only enemies are a handful of shoe bombers. It makes perfect sense, though, when the Pentagon is intimidating the world by ringing it with 800 bases in 130 countries (plus 1,000 at home), and when the intelligence build-up is companion to the military build-up. Thus it was the U.S. eavesdropped on the private telephone conversations of high United Nations officials then debating whether to support the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq. That’s not using intelligence for defense.

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