Family says journalist who threw shoes at Bush beaten into apologizing

QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA

December 22, 2008

BAGHDAD – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved Monday to undermine the popularity of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush.

In a posting on his website, Al-Maliki claimed journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi has apologized for the attack and confessed to carrying it out at the behest of a known militant.

However, the journalist’s family says al-Zeidi was tortured into apologizing for throwing his shoes at Bush – a gesture considered a major insult in Iraqi culture – and has told a brother that he would do it again if he had the chance.

Meanwhile, tensions over the case also spilled into parliament, as a move to oust the chamber’s abrasive Sunni speaker delayed a key decision on whether non-U.S. foreign troops will be allowed to stay in Iraq beyond New Year’s Eve.

Al-Maliki said that in a letter of apology to him, Muntadhar al-Zeidi wrote that a known militant had induced him to throw the shoes.

“He revealed … that a person provoked him to commit this act, and that person is known to us for slitting throats,” al-Maliki said on the prime minister’s website. The alleged instigator was not named and neither al-Maliki nor any of his officials would elaborate.

The journalist’s family denied the claim and alleged that al-Zeidi was coerced into writing the letter, in which he was said to have requested a pardon for “the big and ugly act that I perpetrated.”

Al-Zeidi’s brother Dhargham said that it was “unfair” of al-Maliki to make the allegation about the throat-slitter and described the prime minister as “a sectarian man who is destroying the Iraqi people.”

Earlier, another brother said he met the journalist in prison. “He told me that he has no regret for what he did and that he would do it again,” Uday al-Zeidi told The Associated Press.

He said he visited his brother Sunday and found him missing a tooth and with cigarette burns on his ears. He also said his brother told him that jailers also doused him with cold water while he was naked.

“When I saw him yesterday, there were bruises on his face and body,” Uday al-Zeidi told AP Television News.

“He told me that they used an iron bar to hit him when they took him out of the press conference room. He told me that he began screaming and thought all those at the press conference would have heard his voice.”

The investigating judge, Dhia al-Kinani, has said that the journalist was beaten around the face and eyes when he was wrestled to the ground after throwing the shoes at Bush during a Dec. 14 news conference in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. The judge said al-Zeidi’s face was bruised but he did not provide a further description.

There has been no independent corroboration that al-Zeidi was abused in jail.

Al-Zeidi’s trial on charges of assaulting a foreign leader is scheduled to begin Dec. 31. A conviction would carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. Al-Kinani said last week that he does not have the legal option to drop the case and that al-Zeidi can receive a pardon only if he is convicted.

The hurling of the shoes turned the little-known Iraqi journalist into an international celebrity and led to huge street demonstrations in support of him both at home and abroad, including Canada.

It also brought to a head a simmering dispute between the Iraqi parliament’s abrasive, erratic Sunni speaker and Kurdish and Shiite lawmakers seeking to oust him.

The speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, had irked legislators during a boisterous debate over the case last week by insulting some of them and saying, “There is no honour in leading this parliament” and threatening to resign.

On Monday, legislators unsuccessfully tried to vote al-Mashhadani out of office. Instead they gave him until Tuesday to resign or face an ouster vote later that day.

After the heated closed-door session, al-Mashhadani attempted to force the body to withdraw its opposition to him by threatening to call a recess until Jan. 7 – a week after the UN mandate expires on Dec. 31 for non-U.S. foreign troops to remain in Iraq. He backed down after opposition legislators gathered enough signatures to force a vote against him.

Britain plans to withdraw its 4,000 troops from southern Iraq by the end of May. Australia, El Salvador, Estonia and Romania also have far smaller contingents. U.S. troops can remain in Iraq until the end of 2011 under a separate agreement reached this year.

Shiite and Kurdish legislators believe they have the required 139 votes in the 275-member parliament to remove al-Mashhadani. If he is ousted, he will be replaced by one of his two deputies, and parliament can then approve the resolution.

Two years ago, the Shiite bloc ousted al-Mashhadani after a string of outbursts, but his fellow Sunnis forced them to reinstate him.

Al-Mashhadani clashed with Kurdish legislators this year over whether the oil-rich city of Kirkuk should be incorporated into the semi-autonomous Kurdish territory. Kurds wanted the city included, but al-Mashhadani supported Arabs and Turkomen who opposed the idea.

Source

Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy

Dec 17: Peace Activists Take Shoes to White House in Solidarity with Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist

Iraqi MPs reject UK exit deal

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Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 12:35 am  Comments Off on Family says journalist who threw shoes at Bush beaten into apologizing  
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Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Thousands of protesters are calling for the release of journalist

By Sarah More McCann
December 19 2008

An Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq last Sunday was beaten afterward, an Iraqi judge said Friday. The latest revelation in the incident that has garnered worldwide attention comes amid an Iranian cleric’s call for a “shoe intifada” against the US and praise for the journalist from a Malaysian leader, suggesting that US President-elect Barack Obama will face challenges to overcoming anti-US sentiments.

According to the Associated Press, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi had “bruises on his face and around his eyes” shortly after throwing his shoes at President Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Dec. 14.

Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened an investigation into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes during the news conference Sunday by Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been conflicting claims on his condition since then. One of his brothers said he was harshly beaten, but another said he seemed to be in good condition.

Al-Zeidi “was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him,” the judge told The Associated Press….

The judge said the investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday.

The Guardian reports Mr. al-Zeidi’s family claims US and Iraqi security teams are to blame for any injuries.

Zaidi’s family have said he suffered a broken arm and other injuries after he was dragged away by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents.

Al-Zeidi, who called Bush a “dog,” is currently in custody, and may be charged with insulting a foreign leader, the AP reports. If found guilty, al-Zeidi could face two years or more in prison. Al-Zeidi did not lodge a complaint leading to the investigation of his alleged beating, and there are conflicting reports as to whether he wrote a letter to Mr. al-Maliki asking for clemency.

The incident sparked an outpouring of support for the journalist who tossed the shoes as “retaliation” for the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Middle East Times reports.

For many Iraqis and Arabs… the war was an illegal move against a sovereign nation, it had dismantled the state’s institutions, brought disorder and violence, provided fertile ground for more terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, made more than 4 million homeless, and fragmented an Arab country along sectarian lines. In other words, the war is widely seen as having destroyed Iraq.

So when Zaidi threw his shoes at the U.S. president as a “farewell gift” just a few weeks before Bush leaves the White House, the Iraqi journalist was seen as a hero; Dec. 14 was declared the “start of a shoe revolution,” and wealthy Arab businessmen offered to pay millions to buy the famous footwear that had narrowly missed Bush’s face, but hit the American flag behind him.

On Thursday, The Times (of London) reported that for days, protesters have been calling for the release of the journalist.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

Al-Zeidi’s detainment caused a disruption within Iraq’s Parliament as well, The AP reports.

In parliament, lawmakers had gathered to review a resolution calling for all non-U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of June but those loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr interrupted the session.

They said parliament should focus on al-Zeidi’s case rather than the proposed legislation. The argument escalated with lawmakers screaming at each other, and finally leading [Parliament speaker Mahmoud] al-Mashhadani to announce his resignation, said Wisam al-Zubaidi, an adviser to Khalid al-Attiyah, parliament’s deputy speaker.

Religious and governmental leaders, too, from the Middle East to South Asia have professed support for the journalist, Reuters India explains.

Malaysia‘s foreign minister on Friday praised an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this week,…

“The best show of retaliation so far is the shoe throwing act by that remarkable reporter who gave President Bush his final farewell last week,” Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said at an event to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations.

“That shoe throwing episode, in my view is truly the best Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) to the leader who coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’ to denote Iran, Iraq and North Korea,” Rais said, according to the advance text of his speech.

Mostly Muslim Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country of 27 million people, opposed the Iraq war but is an ally of the U.S. and won favour from Washington after it cracked down on Islamic militants after the 9/11 attacks.

Rais has twice been the country’s foreign minister and usually is known for more measured tones.

In Iran, al-Zeidi received support in some religious circles, the AP reports.

In the Iranian capital Tehran, hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the act at Friday prayers, calling it the “Shoe Intifadha.”

Jannati proposed people in Iraq and Iran should carry shoes in further anti-American demonstrations. “This should be a role model,” said Jannati.

In an interview with Tavis Smiley of NPR, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed the longterm effects of the shoe incident.

“Well, there is always going to be some criticism of American policy because we have to do difficult things, Tavis. And I know that it doesn’t matter who’s in office; we’ll have to do difficult things and sometimes people won’t like them. But what the President stood for and what was important about that trip to Iraq was he got to stand next to a freely elected prime minister of Iraq, in front of journalists who could speak their minds and even vent their anger. And that’s a far cry from when Saddam Hussein was in power. So if America stands for its values, it might not always be popular, but it will be respected.”

But the AP reports President-elect Barack Obama faces an uphill battle to win back the trust of many across the globe.

So the sight of an average Arab standing up and making a public show of resentment was stunning. The pride, joy and bitterness it uncorked showed how many Arabs place their anger on Bush….

The reaction explains in part the relief among Arabs over Barack Obama’s election victory, seen as a repudiation of the Bush era. But it also highlights the task the next president will face in repairing America’s image in the Mideast, where distrust of the U.S. has hampered a range of American policies, from containing Iran to pushing the peace process and democratic reform.

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Protests rise over alleged beating of ‘shoe man’ Muntadhar al-Zeidi

December 18, 2008

The furore over President Bush’s shoe-throwing assailant spread through Iraq and across international borders yesterday, claiming its first political casualty as protests grew over his continued detention and alleged ill-treatment.

The brother of Muntazar al-Zaidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst against Mr Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the Shia journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.

Mr al-Zaidi’s family were told that a court hearing had been held in his jail cell instead and that they would not be allowed to see him for at least another eight days. “That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,” Dargham al-Zaidi said, adding that his brother had been treated for a broken arm and ribs at the military hospital in the green zone.

Anger at Mr al-Zaidi’s treatment erupted in the Iraqi parliament, provoking stand-up rows and prompting the resignation of the assembly’s notoriously hot-tempered Speaker. “I have no honour leading this parliament and I announce my resignation,” Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said after quitting the assembly amid chaos created by Shia politicians.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Paki-stani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

In Egypt Muntazer al-Zaidi was so struck by Mr al-Zaidi that he offered his daughter in marriage, a proposition she wholeheartedly supported. “This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” Amal Saad Gumaa, 20, said.

In Afghanistan, Mr al-Zaidi has become the subject of a Saturday Night Live-style television comedy show that used actors to reconstruct the scene.

Mr al-Zaidi has not been seen in public or by his family since he was hauled out from Sunday’s press conference by the bodyguards of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister. He is under investigation pending charges of insulting a visiting dignitary, a crime punishable with a jail sentence of up to seven years.

At the press conference, Mr al-Zaidi, a reporter for the Iraqi al-Baghdadia television channel, rose to deliver a question before pulling off his shoes, one after the other, and hurling them at Mr Bush. “This is your farewell kiss, you dog!” he shouted in Arabic, combining two of the harshest insults in Middle Eastern culture. Mr Bush was uninjured but his press secretary, Dana Perino, appeared before reporters in Washington yesterday sporting a faint black eye, the result of a collision with a microphone in the mêlée.

Mr Bush has laughed off the incident, claiming not to understand the implied insult. It was “just a shoe”, he insisted. But nerves were rising in Washington at Mr al-Zaidi’s continued nonappearance, especially after the official spin that Mr Bush had brought Iraqis the freedom to register such protests without risking imprisonment or torture. The State Department said that it would issue a condemnation if it were true that Mr al-Zaidi had been beaten up.

Mr al-Zaidi’s protest has spawned a rash of viral internet games. One, from Dubai, called “Sock and Awe” gives players 30 seconds to hurl as many shoes as they can at Mr Bush, scoring a point for each direct hit.

Source

Related Links

Hundreds of Iraqis protest in Kufa, Iraq 19/12/2008

The shoe-throwing attack on US President George W Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has sparked a raft of copycat protests around the world.

Lebanese and Palestinian protesters in Sidon, Lebanon 19/12/2008

This shoe-themed rally in Lebanon followed Sunday’s incident, when Mr Zaidi threw his shoes at Mr Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

A box of shoes outside the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square, London 19/12/2008

Protesters in London even gift-wrapped a box of their shoes – in keeping with the festive season – and labelled it for “George W Bush” at the White House.

A protest in Cairo, Egypt 18/12/2008

In Egypt, ballet shoes were on offer from this reporter who gathered with her colleagues at the Journalists’ Syndicate in Cairo.

A Code Pink member dressed as President Bush is hit with a shoe during a protest near the White House 17/12/2008

The US president was not spared even on his home turf, where a member of the group Code Pink offered his services for target practice in Washington.

Pasban Pakistan activists protest in Karachi 17/12/2008

Protesters – like these in Pakistan – are demanding the release of Mr Zaidi, who has been detained since Sunday and shows signs of being beaten, according to an Iraqi judge.

Turkish leftists protest outside the US embassy in Ankara 18/12/2008

Mr Zaidi could face imprisonment on charges of insulting and attempting to assault a foreign leader, but he enjoys strong support from people in a wide range of countries.

Filipinos throw shoes at a picture of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a Migrants Day protest in Manila 18/12/2008

The shoe-throwing trend is catching on in other parts of the world, with images of other world leaders – like the South Korean leader and the Philippines president – already falling prey.

Source

Numerous other reports at link below as well as links to petitions to release Muntadhar al-Zeidi.  Be sure to support Muntadhar.

You may even want to send Bush a Christmas greeting.  Information provided for that as well.

Protesters at White house and Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy
December 17 2008

Anti-war protesters throw shoes at a fellow demonstrator wearing a prison uniform and mask of President George W. Bush outside the White House in Washington, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. (AP Photo)

By  Tom Fitzgerald

President Bush may have though he’d see the last of shoes being thrown his way, but the anti-war group Code Pink showed up at the White House Wednesday to stage a protest inspired by the President’s much-discussed shoe ducking incident.

The protesters took turns throwing shoes at a large puppet that was made up to look like President Bush. A shoe memorial was also laid out on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to represent the Iraqi civilians who have been killed during the war.

The group’s founder, Meda Benjamin, says she views the Iraqi reporter who threw his footwear at the president as a role model, saying “We feel that the Iraq reporter is now a hero throughout the world because he has expressed the sentiment of millions of people who are so angry at George Bush’s policies”

Critics of Code Pink say the event was more publicity stunt than constructive discussion of the problems facing a post-Bush administration.

Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, says Code Pink may have to change its style once Barack Obama inherits both the White House and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying “There is a mainstream left which respectfully discusses what’s happened in Iraq and then there is Code Pink – no where near respectful – and their actions are out of the mainstream.”

The U.S. Secret Service stood by during the protests; however there were no conflicts with authorities and no arrests were made.

Source

Berkeley Code Pink activists support Iraq shoe-throwing reporter

December 17 2008

Code Pink members and supporters hold a “Farewell Kiss, Shoe-in” outside the Marine Recuitment…
Anti-war activists from the group Code Pink gathered at a Marine recruiting station in Berkeley this morning to show solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday.

Members of the group and others marched around the recruiting station holding shoes in the air to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

In many Arab countries, showing the sole of one’s shoes, much less throwing shoes at another person, is considered extremely disrespectful.

Organizers said their demonstration was to show support for the Iraqi people who have been killed, tortured or maimed and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

The Code Pink protest didn’t effect operations at the Shattuck Avenue recruiting station, said Marine Corps spokesman Sgt. Matt DeBoard.

“Code Pink has been protesting at Shattuck Square for almost a year now,” he said. ”They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them.”

He repeated the Marine’s contention that their recruiting and military operations help defend Americans right to freedom of speech. “Our position is that we do what we do so that everyone can express their opinion.”

For more than a year, women from CodePink picketed weekly in front of the U.S. Marine recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square in downtown Berkeley. They say the Marines are not welcome in liberal, anti-war Berkeley and that the office should shut its doors.

In January, the Berkeley City Council got involved when it officially stated that the Marines were “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” and granted CodePink a permit waiver and a free parking space in front of the Marine center for the weekly protests. The move angered people across the country, who flooded City Hall with about 25,000 letters and e-mails.

Source

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

Dec 17: Peace Activists Take Shoes to White House in Solidarity with Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist

Please also sign Petitions at below link.

Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

Obama free to chart new course with Cuba

Fidel Castro -- 'El Commandante'

December 13 2008
By Tom Bevan, RealClearPolitics.com

New polling in Florida shows that for the first time a majority of Cuban-Americans favour lifting the trade embargo against Cuba that the United States has had in place since 1962. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed favored discontinuing the embargo, and 65 per cent said they were in favor of reestablishing diplomatic relations with the neighboring Communist regime.

During the Democratic primary, then candidate Barack Obama spelled out his willingness to ease the embargo with Cuba in an op-ed in the Miami Herald in August 2007, writing that he would “use aggressive and principled diplomacy to send an important message: If a post-Fidel government begins opening Cuba to democratic change, the United States (the president working with Congress) is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between our countries for the last five decades.”

The following May, Obama gave a speech in Little Havana saying that his policy toward Cuba would be “guided by one word: libertad.” In the speech Obama again advocated easing restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba.

Obama lost the meaningless Florida primary to Clinton in January by 17 points, which included a 33-point thumping among the state’s Hispanics.

But Obama won the Sunshine State 51-49 over McCain in November, including a majority of the Hispanic vote. Obama lost the Cuban vote to McCain by thirty points, 65-35, though there was a stark discrepancy among age group. The oldest demographic of Cuban-Americans (aged 65+) voted overwhelmingly for McCain, 84-16, but those Cuban-Americans under 30 backed Obama by a 55-45 margin.

As a result, the Associated Press declares that Obama will be the first president in 50 years to have “a relatively free hand” in forging a shift in America’s policy toward Cuba:

Cuban-Americans have had a mixed reaction to Obama’s campaign promises — most voted against him, but Obama carried Florida and didn’t even need the state’s votes to win the presidency, confounding the notion that the support of anti-Castro Cuban exiles is essential in presidential elections.

“Obama already has a much freer hand than Bush did,” said Daniel Erickson of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C. think tank. “He does not owe any of his political success to Cuban-Americans in South Florida.”

Obama is therefore free to chart a new course. He can reverse some policies of President George W. Bush with a pen stroke, and while undoing the embargo would take a majority in Congress, that’s easier than ever with Democrats holding sizable majorities.

No doubt leading the charge in Congress will be one of President-elect Obama’s former rivals, Senator Chris Dodd, who’s been pushing for taking a softer line against Cuba for years.

Source

Maybe Barack could learn about Cuba’s Health Care system, apparently it is pretty good.

Fidel Castro has offered to speak with Barack Obama

Published in: on December 14, 2008 at 1:35 pm  Comments Off on Obama free to chart new course with Cuba  
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Last Guantanamo trial of Bush era is delayed

December 10 2008

By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba

A U.S. military judge on Wednesday indefinitely delayed the January trial of a young Afghan captive, leaving the future course of justice at the Guantanamo prison camp in the hands of President-elect Barack Obama.

Defendant Mohammed Jawad had been set to go to trial at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba on January 5 on charges of throwing a grenade that injured two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002.

His was the last trial scheduled to start before Obama takes office on January 20. Obama has said he will close the Guantanamo detention center and move the prisoners’ terrorism trials into the regular U.S. civilian or military courts.

Human rights groups have urged him to issue an executive order immediately upon taking office, halting the tribunals that have been widely condemned by rights activists, foreign leaders and military defense lawyers.

In the seven years since President George W. Bush first authorized the tribunals, military juries have convicted only two prisoners on terrorism charges and a third pleaded guilty in an agreement that limited his sentence to nine months.

A military judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley, indefinitely postponed Jawad’s trial on Wednesday to give prosecutors time to appeal his earlier decision to throw out much of the evidence.

Henley had ruled that Jawad’s confession to Afghan government authorities was obtained through death threats that constituted torture and that his subsequent confession to U.S. interrogators was fruit of that torture.

The judge ruled that neither could be admitted as evidence against Jawad, who was drugged and only 16 or 17 years old at the time of his arrest in Afghanistan. Jawad was turned over to U.S. forces and sent shortly afterward to Guantanamo.

A hearing is still scheduled at Guantanamo on Friday for a young Canadian captive, Omar Khadr, who is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002. His trial is scheduled to start on January 26, a date now in doubt because of the change in the U.S. administration.

CONFUSION IN HIGH PROFILE CASE

No further hearings have been set for the most high-profile case among the 17 pending at Guantanamo, that of five al Qaeda suspects charged with orchestrating the September 11 attacks.

The five, including self-described mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, came to the Guantanamo courtroom on Monday ready to hand the Bush administration a major victory in its final days by confessing to the mass murders that prompted its war on terrorism.

What stopped them was confusion over whether the murky tribunal rules allowed the defendants to plead guilty to charges that could lead to their execution and whether their treatment at U.S. hands had left them sane enough to do it.

All five said they were tortured, though details have not been made public. A decision is still pending on whether two of them, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa Ahmed al Hasawi, are mentally competent to act as their own attorneys and carry out their plans to confess.

“Each one of these individuals has some problems because of what we did to them,” said Army Maj. Jon Jackson, the military lawyer appointed to defend Hawsawi.

The defense lawyers said the confusion over whether the tribunal rules allow guilty pleas in death penalty cases illustrates why the trials should be moved into the regular courts where the rules have been long tested.

They said they were confident Obama would pull the plug on the Guantanamo tribunals, which are formally known as military commissions.

“What you saw was the death throes of the commissions,” said Michael Berrigan, deputy chief defense counsel for Guantanamo. “Everybody knows why — it’s not justice.”

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source

Pleading Guilty after Torture-Did you really do it?

Omar Khadr witness withdrawn to `cover up’ abuse: defence

U.S. acknowledges it held 12 juveniles at Guantanamo Bay prison

Scandal of six held in Guantanamo even after Bush plot claim is dropped

Sindh High Court issues notice to respondents in Aafia Siddiqui case

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos

Judge right about Guantanamo Bay, we’ve had ‘enough’

November 21 2008

“Seven years … is enough.” With those words Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the release of five Algerians held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since January 2002. A conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, Leon also delivered a forceful indictment of the administration’s detention decisions and provided indisputable proof of the importance of allowing federal judges to evaluate the secret evidence the government used to justify detentions.

The case, known as Boumediene v. Bush, yielded the first ruling in a habeas corpus proceeding involving Guantanamo detainees. It first came before Leon in 2004, and, at that time, he read the law as not allowing detainees federal court review.

The Algerians appealed and ultimately prevailed this summer when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling empowering federal judges to review the government’s basis for detaining people on the naval base.

In Boumediene, the government relied on a single classified document from an unnamed source. Justice Department lawyers were unable to convince Leon of the validity of the detentions, even though they were held to a low standard of proof. Leon concluded the document did not prove that the men, captured in Bosnia in 2002, were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces. The fact that there was no corroborating evidence and that there was little information to help the judge assess the reliability of that source doomed the government’s case.

“To allow enemy combatantcy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this Court’s obligation … to protect petitioners from the risk of erroneous detention,” he wrote. He ordered the five Algerians freed “forthwith,” but left the details to the government and did not specify where the men should be sent. He declined to order the release of a sixth man, concluding that the government had provided corroborating evidence that he was an al-Qaida operative.

In another extraordinary move, Leon urged the Justice Department not to appeal his order that the five be freed, saying: “Seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to their legal question is enough.”

The government needs the legal flexibility to hold those it believes are terrorism threats but against whom there is not enough evidence to bring traditional criminal charges. But what Leon revealed in his ruling is the utter travesty that is holding people with virtually no evidence – and certainly no evidence that can reasonably be considered reliable.

The Justice Department should heed the judge’s call and refrain from an appeal. It should work with the departments of State and Defense to find a suitable third country for these detainees. And it should not wait for another judicial rebuke before releasing others who are being held on the basis of feeble or questionable evidence.

Source

The End of the American order

KEVIN CARMICHAEL ,  From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

October 10 2008

OTTAWA — Before U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was pressed into becoming the fire chief of the financial crisis, he had a good thing going as an economic missionary.

Basking in what he liked to call “the strongest global economy” of his business lifetime, Mr. Paulson, who joined President George W. Bush’s administration in June, 2006, embraced with zeal an aspect of his new job with roots in Cold War diplomacy.

In his two years as Treasury Secretary before financial markets came totally unhinged this summer, Mr. Paulson conducted more official business in China than he did in New York. He has visited as many cities in Latin America as he has cities in the United States of America. He rolled through Calcutta, New Delhi and Mumbai in three days in October, 2007; two weeks later, he spent five days in Africa.

The places changed, but the message stayed the same: American-style banking, unencumbered by regulation and open to U.S. financial institutions, is the surest way to create wealth.

“An open, competitive and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than government intervention,” Mr. Paulson told an auditorium full of officials in Shanghai in March, 2007.

Mr. Paulson’s brand of capitalism isn’t promoting much stability these days, and prosperity isn’t a word that jumps to mind as policy makers from Canada to Japan to France scramble to avert a global economic recession.

The Made in America financial crisis has seriously undermined the U.S.’s standing as the undisputed leader of the international economy, posing the first serious threat to U.S. hegemony since the height of the Soviet Union.

After decades of strong-arming governments in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to keep the state out of the economy, the U.S. government in September put up $285-billion (U.S.) to nationalize mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer American International Group Inc.

That’s nothing compared with the $700-billion Mr. Paulson got from Congress yesterday to purge the financial system of the bad debt at the root of the credit crisis. With governments saving failing banks in Europe, stock markets plunging in China and exports slowing in Brazil, the world is in no mood to take economic lessons from the U.S. government.

“There is a real element of anger and frustration around the planet that this is a U.S.-originated problem with global repercussions,” John Manley, a finance and foreign affairs minister under former prime minister Jean Chrétien, said in an interview. “The world will be looking for a loss of hubris from the United States as a result of this.”

America has dominated global economic affairs virtually unopposed since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, an era marked by the acceleration of global free-trade agreements, the confirmation of the dollar as the world’s de facto currency, and the rise of Wall Street as the world’s financial centre.

The U.S. and Britain dictated the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944, establishing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The U.S. became the largest shareholder in the global institutions, which built their headquarters side by side in Washington. Unsurprisingly, the American vision of private ownership and unfettered markets dominated the prescriptions those agencies imposed on weaker economies in return for financial aid. That culminated in the Washington Consensus, a term coined in the 80s to encompass policies such as privatization, lower taxes and deregulation.

These days, countries can’t distance themselves fast enough from the Washington way of economic management.

“The world is on the edge of the abyss because of an irresponsible system,” French Prime Minister François Fillon said on the eve of a gathering of European Union leaders to discuss the financial turmoil.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck predicted the end of the U.S.’s status as the “superpower of the global financial system.” Chinese officials are rethinking their embrace of globalization, and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the U.S. must ensure the situation doesn’t get any worse.

“The Anglo-American model has suffered a big setback,” John Snow, who preceded Mr. Paulson as treasury secretary and is now chairman of private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, said in an interview. “We don’t have the moral authority we might have had a few years ago to get others to follow our model.”

Other nations appear ready to assume a more assertive role in the global economy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, current President of the European Union, wants to host a summit of the world’s major economies next month to consider global rules for financial markets. Germany’s Mr. Steinbrueck, whose push for stricter oversight of hedge funds and private equity firms last year was blocked by Mr. Paulson, will be a ready ally.

“The whole spectrum of options for regulation is now open again,” said Glen Hodgson, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada and an IMF official. “You only have moral authority when you have your own house in order.”

A new era of global financial regulation – however appropriate given the serious gaps exposed by the credit crunch – will increase costs for businesses and slow global economic growth.

Say what you will about U.S.-style capitalism, its ability to produce wealth is unchallenged. The world economy expanded at an average annual rate of 3.9 per cent over the past decade, as more emerging market nations embraced free-market ideals. Over the previous 10 years, global growth averaged 3.5 per cent.

There’s a risk that countries such as China and India could become more reluctant to ease barriers to international investors, especially in the financial sector.

“It’s a possibility that you see countries become more protectionist,” said Mr. Manley, who is now a senior counsel at law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP. “That’s going to slow growth.”

There’s an element of schadenfreude in the world’s criticism of the U.S. government’s role in the financial meltdown.

After all, nobody likes a bully, which is essentially the approach American officials have taken to international negotiations for decades, said John Curtis, a former chief economist at Canada’s Trade Department. “They can be insensitive at times to others’ interests,” said Mr. Curtis, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Waterloo, Ont.-based Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Still, Mr. Curtis and others said it would be a mistake to get carried away with the idea that we’re witnessing the death of the American empire.

The U.S. hardly has a monopoly on economic crises, and the German and French governments, among others, have had to put up billions of their own to save several European banks from collapse, which has muted their criticisms of the U.S.

“I don’t think any country is in position to say they have the right regulatory system,” said James Barth, a senior fellow at the Sana Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute and a former chief economist at the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision. “One has to be careful to say the U.S. has a terrible financial system and that capitalism doesn’t work because of this particular situation.”

One reason the U.S. can’t be counted out is that Americans are used to such calamities.

Mr. Paulson would often tell his audiences that the U.S. copes with a financial crisis every decade or so because the country’s entrepreneurs get too greedy and overreach. The cleanup is wrenching, but the country’s economy is left stronger as a result, Mr. Paulson argued. The country’s rebound from the collapse of the dot.com bubble is perhaps the most recent example of Mr. Paulson’s creative destruction thesis.

There’s also the sheer size of the U.S. economy. The spread of the Wall Street crisis to other continents is a graphic example of how much the rest of the world still depends on America for their economic growth. The U.S.’s gross domestic product is three times the size of that of Japan, the world’s second biggest economy, and is four times the size of China’s.

The U.S. dollar still makes up more than 60 per cent of the world’s currency reserves, according to IMF data.

“They are so big, you can’t get along without them,” said Mr. Curtis, who also served at the IMF. “They are pre-eminent, they are no longer dominant.”

The U.S.’s standing in the world of global finance may well be determined by the outcome of Mr. Paulson’s $700-billion rescue package.

Observers marvel at the speed with which Mr. Paulson and U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke developed the plan after earlier efforts failed to reverse the credit squeeze. It took years to sort out the mess created by the defaults of Argentina and Brazil.

If the U.S. can save its banks faster than the Europeans save theirs, Mr. Paulson will restore some of his department’s reputation abroad, said Daniel Drezner, a political science professor at Medford, Mass.-based Tufts University and a former Treasury Department economist.

But gone are the days when a U.S. treasury secretary will automatically be seen as the smartest guy in the room.

“It’s tough to tell other countries you should privatize and liberalize when you are going the other way,” Mr. Drezner said. “The Washington consensus is dead.”

Source

Privatization benefits only those who operate the corporations etc. It does not benefit anyone else. Everything in the end becomes more expensive.

Like Health Care for example. Those profits made by Insurance companies eat up a lot of money. Government run Health Care is more efficient and more cost effective by a long shot. Of course private companies that have tried and have succeeded in some countries have driven up the cost of Health Care and should be eliminated.

Government run systems have no need to advertise so money is not wasted there. The cost of advertising is massive.

You also don’t have to hire a Lawyer to get treatment, because your insurance companies says no. Universal Health Care is something that needs to be protected at all cost.

Social agencies like Welfare, is another thing that should not now, or ever be privatized.

Child protection agencies, should never be privatized.

Prisons should, never be privatized.

Electricity should, never be privatized.

Water should, never be privatized and numerous other things should always be operated by the Governments for the protection of services to the people.

It also keeps the price of services much lower.

Never believe privatizing anything will save you money.

That is a lie always was and always will be.

Governments have no need for profit to feed shareholders.

Their only share holders they have to protect, are the people of their countries.

That is the Governments Jobs to serve and protect the people of their country.

Capitalism just doesn’t work as we have seen. If anything it has caused a world wide epidemic of problems.

Massive problems. Cleaning up this mess is going to take a long time.

Free Trade Agreements should also be revisited as well and changes to them should be turned in to Fair Trade and be absolutely sure it benefits the people and not the Corporations.  Corperations should be regulated so they are not allowed to pollute or sue governments and numerous other restrictions should be implemented to protect all the people around the world.

Trade Agreements, as they stand now are geared giving profit and control to Corporations and do little if anything to protect people or to enhance their standard of living.  If anything they cause an increase in poverty.  Ask Farmers,  in  countries around the world how Free Trade has helped them. Many have gone out of Business. Problems as these have to be rectified. The sooner the better.

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