Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres

Exclusive: General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Guardian investigation was spurred by the 2010 Wikileaks release.  Their initial video report, “The Torture Trail: What did General Petraeus’s special advisor, James Steele, know?”, showed how the newly released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities; what that meant on the ground; and just how far up the chain of command the order went.  That 7-minute  video, from 2010, is shown here:

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO VIEW THE COMPLETE AND FINAL 2013 VIDEO REPORT (51 minutes): James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. Continue reading

Occupy Movement to challenge the Israel Lobby

‘Occupy AIPAC’ to take on lobby’s legions in ‘business attire’

by , Mondoweiss,  January 11, 2012

This spring, Move over AIPAC will mobilize as “Occupy AIPAC,” returning to Washington D.C., to protest the Israel lobby’s national conference. AIPAC is known for strong-arming Congress into giving $30 billion to Israel over the next decade. This year it is promising to crank-out “thousands” of “business attire” political soldiers to increase funding for Israel, despite a U.S. recession.

At $500 per ticket, conventioneers can participate in AIPAC’s National Policy Conference, March 4-6. Move over AIPAC is preparing to counter the Israel lobbyists’ appointments with Congress, during its gathering outside the Convention Center, March 2-6.

Move over AIPAC has re-branded itself as “Occupy AIPAC,” reflecting the growing connections activists are making between the 1 percent and the Israeli occupation. This connection moved from idea to practice when activists from the Palestine Solidarity Network organized a demonstration against one of AIPAC’s Northern California conferences. Similarly, activists in New York staged a “mic-check,” at a Birthright event, at which Occupy voices challenged the Israel lobby. Continue reading

Amnesty Int’l: Call for African Arrest of GWBush is rebuffed by pro-US countries–int’l law to serve (not challenge) imperialism

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, December 6, 2011

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

ADDIS ABABA, Dec 6 – RNW correspondents in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia went in search of supporters and detractors of Amnesty International’s call to arrest former US president, George W. Bush, during his recent visit to the continent.
Aiding and abetting in Addis Ababa
Ethiopians have had a good laugh about Amnesty International’s appeal, which most say is a ‘foolish’ publicity stunt to win African support for the rights group.
“This is a ridiculous attempt to show us that they are not a biased organization,” Mikael Atsbeha, a cameraman, said. “They abuse the opportunity of Bush’s visit to Africa to buy support.”
He also said the arrest is “never going to happen,” because of the strong ties Ethiopia had with the Bush administration. Ethiopia has been a loyal ally in Bush’s ‘war on terror’, fighting Islamic extremism in a US backed incursion into neighboring Somalia from 2006 to 2009. It even earned Ethiopia’s leader Meles Zenawi the nickname ‘America’s poodle’. Continue reading

Dominican Republic: Police killed 2,367 people in 5 years

Amnesty deplores police abuse in Dominican Republic


Oct 25, 2011

SANTO DOMINGO: Amnesty International issued a scathing report on the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, saying its national police force was responsible for killing and torturing with impunity.

The police force was responsible for an average of 15 percent of recorded violent deaths each year in the Dominican Republic from 2005 to 2010, according to the report.

“That proportion is alarming and raises significant concerns that police frequently employ disproportionate force with deadly consequences,” the report said.

The London-based human rights group said police abuse in the Caribbean nation came against the backdrop of a surge in violent crime linked to drug trafficking, a proliferation of firearms and growing social inequality.

It said “hard-line policing methods” were contributing to escalating violence and crime rather than helping to curb it and that police abuse had flourished due to inadequate government oversight and reforms. Continue reading

Israel uses “primitive, racist” policies against Palestinian prisoners

Ramallah, 11 August 2011

(Thousands of Palestinian families have a loved one in Israeli prison.  Haytham Othman/Maan Images)

RAMALLAH (IPS) – “I’m sick with worry about my daughter,” Yehiya al-Shalabi says. “I’m afraid of what they are doing to her. She has done nothing to deserve this. If they have anything against her why don’t they bring her to trial?”

Hana al-Shalabi, Yehiya’s 27-year-old daughter, has been languishing in Israeli administrative detention for more than two years. She is the longest serving Palestinian female political prisoner in administrative detention.

According to her lawyer, the young woman from Jenin in the northern West Bank does not know why Israeli soldiers arrested her several years ago. She also does not know how long they will keep her in jail or what they will charge her with.

Shalabi, like nearly 200 other Palestinian prisoners, is being held in Hasharon prison. A senior Israeli military officer has just renewed the administrative detention order against her for the fourth time. Continue reading

California Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Isolation Units at Pelican Bay and Corcoran Prisons

[Supporters of the prisoners demonstrated on July 1st, as the prisoners launched their hunger strike at Pelican Bay and Corcoran Prisons.  The bourgeois media has limited coverage of the events, focusing on their standard methods of discrediting the struggle for justice with slanders like “they have other food, it’s not really a hunger strike” and “they complain all the time and refuse to eat often” and they are vicious hardened criminals who deserve no support or sympathy.”  Below, we post the words of one of the hunger strikers.  Frontlines ed.]

originally printed in the  San Francisco Bay View –

Hunger strikers protest perpetual solitary confinement

June 29, 2011


John Martinez

The following letter from PBSP SHU prisoner John R. Martinez is addressed to:Edmund G. Brown, Governor, State Capitol, First Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814

Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S St., Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

G.D. Lewis, Warden, PBSP, P.O. Box 7000, Crescent City, CA 95532

Re: Petition for redress; notice of hunger strike


On July 1, 2011, I and my fellow prisoners – on their own free will – will be commencing a hunger strike to protest the denial of our human rights and equality via the use of perpetual solitary confinement. The Supreme Court has referred to “solitary confinement” as one of the techniques of “physical and mental torture” that have been used by governments to coerce confessions (Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 237-238 (1940)).

In regards to PBSP-SHU, Judge Thelton E. Henderson stated that “many if not most, inmates in the SHU experience some degree of psychological trauma in reaction to their extreme social isolation and the severely restricted environmental stimulation in SHU” (Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146, 1235 (N.D. Cal. 1995)). Not surprisingly, Judge Henderson stated that “the conditions in the SHU may press the outer bounds of what most humans can psychologically tolerate” and that sensory deprivation found in the SHU “may well hover on the edge of what is humanly tolerable for those with normal resilience” (Madrid, 889 F. Supp. at 1267, 1280). Four years later, a Texas federal judge reviewed conditions in isolation of a Texas prison that mirrored those of PBSP-SHU. He correctly held:

“Before the court are levels of psychological deprivation that violate the United States Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It has been shown that defendants are deliberately indifferent to a systemic pattern of extreme social isolation and reduced environmental stimulation. These deprivations are the cause of cruel and unusual pain and suffering by inmates in administrative segregation …” (Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp. 2d 855, 914-915 (S.D. Tex.1999)). Continue reading

Amnesty International: We must not forget those imprisoned in Iran

(As we approach the June 12 anniversary of the massive 2009 election protests, revolutionary internationalists–supporters of struggle against all oppression–are challenged once again to support and understand the Iranian people’s struggles. The protests in Iran one year ago involved many sections of people–workers, peasants, students, Kurds, Azeris, Arab, women, intellectuals.  The Green movement, while significant, did not represent this broad spectrum of forces–but received the most attention from the Western press.  All sections of society faced brutal repression from the Ahmadinejad regime, as reflected, somewhat unevenly, in a new report from Amnesty International, described in  this Guardian (UK) article-ed)

One year after the mass protests in Iran, Amnesty is launching a report highlighting those who remain in jail, writes Kate Allen.

09 Jun 2010

Mousavi supporters protest in Tehran  on June 13, 2009

Mousavi supporters protest in Tehran on June 13, 2009 Photo: AFP

“The prisoner’s worst nightmare is the thought of being forgotten,” wrote Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari after his release from Iran’s Evin prison. He was detained for 118 days after he reported on the demonstrations following Iran’s disputed election, one year ago this weekend. He fled the country after his release and was later sentenced, in absentia, to 13 years in prison and 74 lashes.

Bahari was one of thousands of people – over 5,000 according to official statements but probably many more – who were arrested during the mass demonstrations which first erupted on June 13, 2009. Most have now been released, often after suffering torture including beatings, rape and solitary confinement in small spaces for long periods. Some have returned to prison to begin serving custodial sentences, usually after being convicted in unfair trials on the basis of “confessions” that were forced out of them in detention.

Most of those detained were ordinary Iranians who went out on the streets to protest against the announced election result. Some of them still languish in prison, particularly in the provinces away from the media spotlight in Tehran. But others were targeted because they were perceived to challenge the authorities’ legitimacy: they include human rights campaigners, students, women’s rights activists, academics, former political prisoners and their relatives, members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities, trade unionists, and lawyers who have defended political detainees. The net was cast wide.

This repression is part of a wider pattern. Iran’s authorities have criminalised contact with over 60 foreign institutions, media organisations and NGOs, isolating Iranians and preventing news, including on human rights violations, from leaving the country. Newspapers have been closed down, websites and email services have been filtered or blocked and the police have warned that SMS messages are monitored. University professors and staff have been fired on the grounds that they do not have sufficient “belief” in the Islamic Republic. Renewed efforts to implement “morality” codes concerning dress and gender segregation are underway which impede women’s ability to function freely in society. And numerous threatening statements have been issued, backed up by executions of political prisoners, to make it absolutely clear that those who express any form of dissent – whether by speaking out, writing or attending demonstrations – will face the harshest penalties. Continue reading