The US government has refused to stop force-feeding detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay during the holy month of Ramadan.
In court papers rejecting a petition by four of more than 100 detainees said to be refusing food, the US said the feedings provided “essential nutritional and medical care” and would not interfere with religious observance of Ramadan, which begins on Monday.
Observant Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Lawyers for President Obama also said that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo”.
Last month, Obama gave a speech in which he promised to work towards closing the base, and to allow the release of many of the 86 prisoners held there who have been cleared for transfer. He described the camp as a moral problem for the nation that had to be solved.
The feeding of detainees, via neogastric tube, will be carried out by the facility “before dusk and after sunset in order to accommodate their religious practices”, they said, “absent any unforeseen emergency or operational issues” […]
US government lawyers also argued that the detainees bringing the case, Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, are not “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and are therefore not protected under it.
A group of detainees began a hunger strike in February this year, in protest at their detention. Some have been detained without trial for more than a decade. It also highlights Obama’s failure to deliver a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.
Aamar, who has spent 11 years without trial at the camp, despite being twice cleared for release, recently spoke of increasingly brutal tactics being used in an attempt to break the strike.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, reiterated its call on Monday for the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to stop.
Lawyers for the detainees described the tube feeding as “barbaric” and hit out at the failure of the US government to provide a specific guarantee that no feeding would happen during the day.
Cori Crider, counsel for the men and strategy director at Reprieve, said: “These are more weasel words from the Obama administration – they say they have ‘no plans’ to force-feed during the day in Ramadan, but give no guarantees. Meanwhile, on the eve of Independence Day, they ride rough-shod over the fundamental right of people to choose what goes into their bodies. “
Jon Eisenberg, US counsel for the men, said: "The Obama administration argues here that ‘the public interest lies with maintaining the status quo’. The status quo is that these men are being held indefinitely without any sort of trial, even though they were cleared for release years ago."
“Consider the irony of the Obama administration arguing here that the Guantánamo Bay detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of US law guaranteeing religious freedom, in a post-Citizens United world where even corporations are endowed with legal personhood.”
There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo, 106 of them are on hunger strike. Of those, 45 of them are being fed through tubes directly into the stomach, according to the court papers.
In its court filing, the US Department of Justice also denied claims that it was giving the drug Reglan to the detainees.
Read Whole: The Guardian
How noble of the US authorities (in the holiest month) to magnanimously ‘accommodate religious practices’ - of people, who they’ve deemed to be “not persons” despite being cleared for release, and whose lives they’ve otherwise destroyed - by (potentially) deferring their torture, until after sunset.
Aralarında Türkiye’nin de bulunduğu 23 ülkede Ipsos tarafından Reuters için gerçekleştirilen global araştırmaya göre; her 10 denekten 8’i (bir önceki dönme oranla 8 puanlık artış), 2012’ye kıyasla 2013’ün daha iyi bir yıl olacağını düşünüyorlar.
Araştırma hakkındaki basın bülteni burada.
Gerhard Schindler, head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency, said Assad’s once 320,000-strong army had lost about 50,000 troops since the uprising against his rule began 17 months ago.
Germany’s spy chief said Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s government appeared to be in its final phase because its army had been depleted by casualties, deserters and defectors to the opposition …
Smaller, flexible rebel units were sapping the strength of the army with guerrilla tactics, he told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
“There are a lot of indications that the end game for the regime has begun,” said the president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst agency.
“That (army losses) includes those who have been wounded, deserted and about 2,000 to 3,000 who have defected to the armed military opposition,” he said. “The erosion of the military is continuing.”
While Assad’s grip on the country has been loosened as the uprising has gathered momentum, his forces have overwhelming firepower advantage against lightly armed rebels.
However, Schindler said small rebel units were offsetting that by using their speed and manoeuvrability to strike quickly in ambushes.
“Because of their small size, they’re not a good target for Assad’s army,” he said. “The regular army is being confronted by a variety of flexible fighters. The recipe of their success is their guerrilla tactics. They’re breaking the army’s back.”
Assad is fighting to crush a rebellion that aims to end his family’s four decades in charge of Syria.
24 Feb 2012 | Israel is claiming that Iran is thisclose to developing a missile that can hit American soil. But missile and intelligence experts say Tehran has a long, technically complex road to travel before it can threaten Manhattan.
From getting all the rocket thrusters to work properly to developing heat shields that can withstand the stresses of rapid atmospheric reentry, Iran is probably many years away from getting an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The American spy apparatus, which once hyped the Iranian missile threat, has quietly stopping saying when Iran can hit the east coast. And the irony is that it’s taking Iran so long precisely because its missile efforts really are sophisticated.
“The bottom line,” says Paul Pillar, a veteran CIA Mideast analyst, “is that the intelligence community does not believe [the Iranians] are anywhere close to having an ICBM.”
That, however, isn’t the message out of
JerusalemIsrael. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told CNBC on Wednesday Iran was “two to three years” away from slamming a missile into New York, Boston or Washington. Its strategic-affairs minister, Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, issued that same warning earlier this month, but declined to say when Iran’s mega-missile would be ready.
Chances are, the Israelis are hyping the Iranian missile threat so their American friends will consider the Iranian threat more acute. They’re not happy with Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for saying on Sunday that an Israeli attack on Iran was “not prudent.” But few missile or intelligence experts believe the new claim of an imminent Iranian ICBM is going to change Dempsey’s mind, or anyone else’s, because it’s far-fetched.
It’s true that Tehran has a robust missile program. Its stockpiles of Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, which top out at 800 miles, strike fear into the hearts of Arab Gulf states. Israel has real reason to fear the development of its Sejjil medium-range ballistic missile, a more sophisticated weapon, that could maybe reach Israel in a few years. And unlike rogue-state missile flameouts like North Korea, Iran is able to launch satellites into space, which is a key ICBM step (since any intercontinental missile is going to have to fly through space in order to attack a foe so far away).
But none of that adds up to Iran getting a missile that can travel the 6,000 miles necessary for striking America any time soon …
Read More: Wired
Syrian forces have laid mines near the borders of Lebanon and Turkey along routes used to escape the conflict in Syria, advocacy group Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
Its report documented multiple accounts from witnesses in Turkey, Lebanon and inside Syria who had either seen Syrian troops laying mines or been injured by mines.
Opposition activists who have waged a year-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule use Lebanon and Turkey to bring food, medicine and weapons into Syria. Thousands of Syrians have also fled the violence into Turkey and Lebanon.
“Any use of anti-personnel landmines is unconscionable,” Steve Goose, Arms Division director at HRW, said. “There is absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons by any country, anywhere, for any purpose.”
Syria last used anti-personnel mines during the 1982 conflict with Israel in Lebanon, the report said. Syria’s stockpile is believed to consist mainly of Soviet/Russian-manufactured mines, it added.
The report quoted a 15-year-old boy from Tal Kalakh in Syria who lost a leg in a landmine explosion in February while trying to transport a wounded person to Lebanon for medical treatment.
Opposition activists in Syria say they fear arrest, torture and death at the hands of Syrian security forces if they seek treatment in Syrian state hospitals when they are wounded in protests or clashes with police and security forces.
Turkey acceded to the international Mine Ban Treaty on September 25, 2003. Syria and Lebanon have refused to sign the treaty, which would require all landmines in their countries to be cleared.
Nadim Houry, HRW’s researcher for Syria and Lebanon, told Reuters that is was very hard to get the exact figure for the number of wounded by Syrian-placed landmines because most casualties occur on the Syrian side of the border.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied access into the country to rights groups and journalists.
The United Nations says more than 7,500 people have been killed in unrest against Assad’s government. Syria said in December that “terrorists” had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police.
In one of the most blacked-out stories in America right now, the US military is preparing to send thousands of US troops, along with US Naval anti-missile ships and accompanying support personnel, to Israel.
It took forever to find a second source for confirmation of this story and both relatively mainstream media outlets are in Israel. With one source saying the military deployment and corresponding exercises are to occur in January, the source providing most of the details suggests it will occur later this spring. Calling it not just an “exercise”, but a “deployment”, the Jerusalem Post quotes US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc, Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany. The US Commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for “the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.” In an effort to respond to recent Iranian threats and counter-threats, Israel announced the largest ever missile defense exercise in its history. Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel, also taking part.
Also confirming the upcoming US-Israeli military missile exercises is JTA.org - ‘global news service of the Jewish people’. In their account, they report, ‘Last week, plans for Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to visit Israel in January were leaked to Israeli media; his visit likely will coincide with the largest-ever joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile exercise’.
While American troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time, Israeli military personnel will be added to EUCOM in Germany. EUCOM stands for United States European Command.
In preparation for anticipated Iranian missile attacks upon Israel, the US is reportedly bringing its THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile systems to Israel. The US forces will join Israeli missile defense systems like the Patriot and Arrow. The deployment comes with “the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East” …
Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda.
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries” …
News from back at the beginning of this year, but it’s important you all know, especially those who might not have heard about it since then; that there in itself would be proof, of how more ‘murky’ exploits by the US government, can pass by unaccounted/unchallenged - with little coverage from institution media…
UN member states have rejected a US-backed plan to introduce new regulations on cluster bombs - munitions which break up into hundreds of smaller bomblets.
The plan would have eliminated all cluster munitions made before 1980.
But human rights groups argued that an international convention banning such bombs already exists and that the new protocol would dilute its provisions.
The US said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
“The protocol would have led to the immediate prohibition of many millions of cluster munitions [and] placed the remaining cluster munitions under a detailed set of restrictions and regulations,” the US embassy in Geneva said in a statement.
First developed during World War II, cluster bombs contain a number of smaller bomblets designed to cover a large area and deter an advancing army.
A total of 111 UN member states have already signed up to the Oslo convention prohibiting the production, transfer, and use of cluster munitions. The US, Russia and China have not.
A senior US official said the bombs were a military necessity for when targets were spread over wide areas, and that using alternative armaments would cause more collateral damage and prolong conflicts, Reuters reports.
The outcome of Friday’s meeting in Geneva was welcomed by human rights campaigners who say cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons that can fail to explode on impact and lie dormant, often causing injury to civilian years after conflict has ended.
“How often do you see the US, Russia, China, India, Israel and Belarus push for something, and they don’t get it? That has happened largely because of one powerful alliance driving the Oslo partnership,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Geneva, says that though the proposal would have eliminated millions of ageing cluster munitions, even military allies of the US, like Britain, chose not to support it.
Many UN member states felt, she says, that getting rid of some cluster weapons while officially sanctioning others would set a dangerous precedent, and might even legitimise their use in the long-term.
The US move was also opposed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the top UN officials for human rights, emergency relief and development.