Water Supply Systems in Damascus Countryside Suffer SYP 21 Million in Losses Caused by Sabotage Acts
Aug 7, 2012 - DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE, (SANA) – Water supply systems in Damascus countryside have suffered up to SYP 21 million in losses because of Sabotage acts and attacks perpetrated by armed terrorist groups.
Director General of Drinking Water Establishment, Hussam Hreidin, pointed out that damages affected the buildings and vehicles of the establishment, adding the armed terrorist groups are attacking the employees while they are repairing what has been sabotaged in some areas.
He called on citizens to take part in protecting the water units as they provide water to all people, adding that the goal of sabotaging the water supply systems is preventing the establishment from delivering drinking water to citizens in low prices.
Photo: While Syria is systematically destroyed, the 'first ladies' of the rich western countries feast...
Palestinian Factions Condemn Attempts at Exploiting Refugee Camps against the Situation in Syria
August 4, 2012 - DAMASCUS, (SANA)
The Palestinian National Alliance factions stressed that the Palestinian people will remain faithful to Syria who has embraced this people and its resistance and supported its national struggle.
The factions issued a press statement commenting on the crime which armed terrorist groups perpetrated in al-Yarmuk Camp and claimed the lives of a number of martyrs and the statements aimed at distorting the reality of this crime.
The statement said that there are conspiring parties that insist on taking the camps out of the context of their message and national goals, the most important of which is the right to return.
It added that the factions have since the beginning of the crisis in Syria made all their efforts to keep the Palestinian refugee camps away from suspicious political exploiting by parties hostile to Syria, stressing that the massacre was the result of mortar shells fired by armed terrorist groups from the neighboring al-Tadamun neighborhood.
The factions condemned the statements of "the authority in Ramallah" which included "false accusations" against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command- and its general secretary, Ahmad Jibril.
The accusations, the statement explained, claimed that the Front seeks to get the Palestinian camps involved in the internal situation in Syria, "at a time when the Front has made all its effort to protect the camps and prevent them from being exploited outside their goals, on top being the right to return."
The factions said in its statement that those who abandon 78 percent of Palestine's land, dropp the right to return, practice oppression against the resistance fighters in Palestine in coordination with the Zionist enemy, stand still towards the judaization of Jerusalem and call for putting the situation in Syria under Chapter VII "are not in a position that allows them to trespass against the symbols of resistance or claim to care for the people in Syrian and other camps."
The statement reiterated the factions' stress that the Palestinian people are looking forward for Syria to get out of its crisis stronger and more firm in the face of the conspiracy targeting its unity and national and pan-Arab stance.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has begun a five-day, four-nation tour of North Africa and the Middle East to consolidate military ties with traditional allies against the backdrop of mounting Western pressure aimed at the governments of Syria and Iran...
July 30, 2012
Pentagon Chief Rallies Arab, Israeli Allies Against Syria, Iran
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has begun a five-day, four-nation tour of North Africa and the Middle East to consolidate military ties with traditional allies against the backdrop of mounting Western pressure aimed at the governments of Syria and Iran.
His first two stops are to Tunisia and Egypt, long-standing American military client states and members of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program. The next two are to Israel and Jordan, also Mediterranean Dialogue members, the first the main and the second one of the largest recipients of American military aid.
The two North African countries were the bellwethers of the so-called Arab Spring, a topic Panetta dwelled on at some length during his visit to Tunisia, though in relation to following Pentagon diktat Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak might well still be in power for all the difference that now exists. Last year's biennial joint U.S.-Egyptian Bright Star military exercise was cancelled during the early months of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, but there is no reason to believe next year's won't go ahead as usual.
Four months ago Washington released $1.3 billion in military assistance to the Egyptian junta, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waiving congressional conditions introduced last year and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stating, "These decisions reflect America's over-arching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy."
The strategic partnership is one that began with the Carter-Brzezinski administration buying off President Anwar Sadat in 1978 and in so doing switching the largest and militarily most powerful Arab nation from non-alignment (Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement) and close state-to-state relations with the Soviet Union to the U.S.'s major military client state in Africa and the Arab world. It was also initiated to break the back of Arab unity in relation to Israel and Palestine.
Because of its unique value to the Pentagon, Egypt is the only African nation not to be assigned to the Pentagon's Africa Command (AFRICOM), instead remaining in Central Command. The latter, launched in 1983, grew out of the Carter administration's Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, which had been established to counter Soviet bloc influence in Northeast Africa: Egypt, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.
Similarly and for complementary geopolitical purposes, Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation not in Central Command's area of responsibility, instead being assigned to that of European Command.
Since the Camp David Accords of 1978, Egypt has been one of the two largest recipients of annual American aid (almost all of it military) and a dependable Pentagon ally bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip to the east, Libya to the west and Sudan to the south as well as controlling the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Mediterranean is the route through which U.S. warships, including nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their assigned strike groups, pass after leaving the eastern coast of the U.S. en route to the Suez, whence they pass through the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the broader Indian Ocean for air strikes in Afghanistan.
Panetta, no matter what he says formally, is visiting Egypt to ensure it remains in the American political and, especially, military column.
According to the Pentagon website, "The United States has had a strong military-to-military relationship with Egypt since the 1970s, and Panetta said he wants that relationship to continue and grow."
En route to Tunisia, Panetta stated to reporters: "Our goal is to advance security by supporting peaceful change throughout the region. This means establishing strong partnerships with new democratic governments in the region.”
He also said that the recent Syrian government offensive against armed insurgents in Aleppo will be - will be made to be - “a nail in Assad’s coffin.” He, like his civilian opposite number Hillary Clinton ("Wow!...We came, we saw, he died"), is not noted for excelling in the powers of abstract thinking, so his comment is not to be interpreted as merely a metaphor.
As though alleged humanitarian intervention was not casus belli enough, Panetta also invoked the Iraq war-style menace of "chemical and biological warfare sites in Syria that U.S. planners say need to be secured."
About those exaggerated threats, he said, “We’ve been in close coordination with countries in the region to ensure that this is happening.”
He also pledged to strengthen the "very close partnership" with Israel, particularly in respect to Iran. According to the Pentagon, "Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons technology will be a discussion point at all stops."
The defense chief added:
"My view is that when I sit down with my counterpart in Israel, we are unified in our view with regards to Iran. We’re unified in the position that they should not obtain a nuclear weapon, (and) we’re unified in our position that we have to bring every bit of pressure on them to change their ways.”
“The more we are working together, the more unified we are in the effort against Iran, the better off we will be in convincing Iran that there is no room here for them to do anything other than to back away from the nuclear program they are engaged in.”
Panetta will inspect the U.S.-funded Iron Dome anti-missile system while in Israel.
Again according to the Defense Department's account of his position while on the way to Tunisia, "Peaceful, democratic change has taken place since the Arab Spring, but Syria, Iran and extremism in general have continued to pose challenges."
That is, Panetta's mission is to recruit America's Tunisian, Egyptian, Israeli and Jordanian military allies to confront Syria and Iran.
The Pentagon's website cited an unnamed senior Defense Department official affirming that "Panetta plans to lay out the roadmap for the future military-to-military relationship between the United States and Tunisia." He was quoted asserting that "The military has played a positive role in Tunisia and we want that to continue.”
During the press conference aboard the aircraft taking him to Tunisia, Panetta explained what Washington understands to be both the means and the ends of so-called democracy promotion in stating, “The United States continues to support efforts to strengthen Tunisia’s democracy, and DOD [the Department of Defense] will play an important role in that effort.”
In Egypt Panetta will meet with newly installed President Muhammad Mursi and Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi - "Panetta has been in constant touch with Tantawi since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown" - who led the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces from February 11, 2011 to June 30, 2012.
In Israel he will consult with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Then he will hold talks on bilateral military cooperation with King Abdullah in Jordan. According to the above-cited Pentagon official, “Syria will obviously be a topic of conversation, as the Jordanians are on the front line of that.”
As with his visits earlier this year to South America and Asia, Panetta's trip to North Africa and the Middle East has a concrete objective: To solidify military ties with states bordering or near the remaining handful of nations in the world not enmeshed in the Pentagon's global network.
richardrozoff | July 31, 2012 at 2:46 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pCpOz-3N4
Photo: The U.S. as the champion of 'human rights'. South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc (center left), as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim's cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division.
NATO will use chemical weapons against Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the BBC on Monday.
Clinton warned that "If Assad does not retire, NATO will eradicate the entire Syrian people".
NATO has a large stock of chemical weapons and a lot of independant countries are concerned about what will happen to them if they will resist NATO.
NATO uses also Depleted uranium (DU). It is one of the gifts that NATO left to the population of Kosovo following its war there in 1999. DU is radioactive and, when inhaled, remains in the lungs for years.
NATO uses white phosphorous in the war against Taliban
International forces in Afghanistan are using the napalm-like substance white phosphorus in everything from grenades to flybomber in a war, usually fought in populated areas. Human Rights Organizations inculcates ISAF's duty to protect civilians
White phosphorus is a napalm like substance that ignite on contact with skin that sticks and stays on to burn as long as there is oxygen. The result is severe chemical burns, which very easily leads to death.
'Like napalm, white phosphorus, by nature, a weapon that is likely to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, "concludes the Red Cross in IHL and Denmark , used as a textbook in the Danish military. Still using Danish and foreign coalition forces in Afghanistan white phosphorus in large quantities and often in residential areas. It is clear from the leaked documents from Afghanistan that information in its possession.
A review of documents showing more than 1,100 cases where ISAF has used white phosphorus grenades, rockets and flybomber. Of these 59 documents that have never before been published.
Among the documents there are many reports which suggest that white phosphorus is not only used for legitimate purposes.
According to the conventions, including Denmark has signed, white phosphorus may only be used outside of densely populated areas. But the leaked documents war from Afghanistan indicate that phosphorus munitions are often used precisely in populated areas including Helmand's Green Zone, where Danish forces are deployed.
The widespread use of white phosphorus cares more human rights organizations fear that Afghan civilians are paying the price for the coalition forces' use of napalm-like substance.
White phosphorus is not a banned weapon, but according Weapons Convention Protocol 3, by Denmark and most other NATO countries have signed, it is forbidden to use it against military targets located in heavily populated areas, "unless the military objective is clearly separated from civilians and civilian objects. "
"White phosphorus is not used against civilians or in areas where there are civilians," notes senior scientist Peter Vedel Kessing, Department of Human Rights.
Amnesty International considers the use of white phosphorus problem and believes that NATO forces use of the nasty substance should be examined.
"If you can talk about an inhuman weapon, white phosphorus belong to the category, because it leaves the victim in unimaginable pain," said Amnesty's press chief Ole Hoff Lund.
"Therefore it is important that the defense considers how and why ISAF using munitions with white phosphorus. "
A legitimate weapon
The leaked Afghanistan reports indicate that white phosphorus is used primarily in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan, where the war against the Taliban and other insurgent groups have been particularly intensive. But reports indicate that the substance also used in the Danish responsibility in Helmand. But it is not clear from logs on Danish troops are involved in the illegal use of the substance.
At the Army Operational Command, HOK , confirms military lawyer Rolf Verge that the Danish forces used white phosphorus, but he assures that only the case of legitimate purposes.
'The Danish forces in Af-Afghanistan use white phosphorus to throw smoke to obscure soldiers' movements on the battlefield but also in lysgranater and målmarkering, for example. where Danish forces attract flybomber, "says Rolf Verge and stresses that" white phosphorus would be used against objects, but not at people. "
"It will not be in accordance with the rules if Danish forces are using white phosphorous against people. And I doubt also that it would be consistent with the other coalition countries' regulations, "says Rolf Verge. "Do not generally use weapons that cause unnecessary suffering, and that makes white phosphorous."
Also ISAF confirms the use of white phosphorus. In a reply to Information underlines ISAF 's press spokesman Nicole R. Schwegman that there are "a legitimate weapon, used mainly for information, investigation missions and selecting bombemål.' It is also apparent from responds that white phosphorus into medium used as attack weapons.
"When white phosphorus is used as incendiary weapons, observe ISAF Weapons Convention Protocol Three, which places more emphasis on minimizing civilian damage. ISAF makes himself at all to great lengths to protect civilians in operations, "said Nicole R. Schwegman.
Information would have got a comment from Defense Gitte Lillelund Bech (V) to the ISAF 's use of phosphorus in Afghanistan. The minister believes that it is purely a military disciplinary matters, and she would not comment.
Fact: It goes Weapons Convention
The use of incendiary weapons as napalm and white phosphorus is regulated by the Convention on particularly inhumane weapons or simply Weapons Convention, Protocol Three.
The Convention was adopted by the UN in 1980 and acceded to by Denmark in 1997 - a total of 144 countries have acceded to it but not yet the United States .
Article 2, concerning the protection of civilians and civilian objects:
1. It is forbidden under all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
2. Prohibited under all circumstances to do something military objective located in a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air delivered incendiary weapons.
3. It is also forbidden to make any military objective located in a concentration of civilians the object of attack by other fire arms than air-delivered incendiary weapons, unless such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken to reduce fire effects to military targets and avoid and in any case restrict it to a minimum or in any case minimize incidental loss of civilian life, maiming of civilians and damage to civilian objects.
4. It is prohibited to make forests or other driving force behind the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural resources used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives or are themselves military objectives.
From 1964 through 1973, the United States flew 580,000 bombing runs over Laos — one every 9 minutes for 10 years. More than 2 million tons of ordnance was unloaded on the countryside, double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany in World War II.
Nearly half of Laos is now contaminated with unexploded ordinance, explosive weapons such as bombs, grenades and land mines.
'Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy' (U.S. Department of State http://www.state.gov/j/drl/ )
Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International, American State Department, Human Rights Watch and the wars against Libanon, Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran.
Ms. Nossel had previously worked for Human Rights Watch, as well as Bertelsmann Media Worldwide and the administration of the Wall Street Journal.
The Board of Directors of Amnesty International considered that the United States commitment to Suzanne Nossel in the Clinton and Obama administrations was a guarantee of competence and has not held against the crimes committed in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon etc. .
Ms. Nossel has led various campaigns against Iran, Libya and Syria. In recent months she has shown in intoxicating the Council of Human Rights in Geneva in order to be adopted by the Security Council resolution authorizing a war against Libya. The imputations of Ms. Nossel has been denied since.
It is remarkable that at the same time that the U.S. war-propaganda-machine works at full speed, WikiLeaks announced to publish more than 2 million emails "from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012."
WikiLeaks works herefore together with the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar and revealed that Al-Akhbar was one of its co-publishing partners, along with Egypt's Al Masry Al Youm, Germany's ARD, Italy's L'Espresso, France's Owni, Spain's Publico.es, and Associated Press.
It is not the first time that WikiLeaks acts ambiguous...
The Irrelevance of Wikileaks' Guantánamo Revelations
by Andy Worthington, November 30, 2010
Following Wikileaks’ release of 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables, which has, if nothing else, revealed that secrecy and the Internet appear to be mutually incompatible, a handful of media outlets have picked up on references to Guantánamo — and the Obama administration’s negotiations with other countries — in the cables.
Britain’s Daily Mail led the way, claiming that the cables revealed that the Obama administration “played a high stakes game of ‘a Deal’ with foreign governments,” as it tried to secure new homes for prisoners who could not be repatriated because of fears that they would be tortured or otherwise ill-treated in their home countries.
The Mail stated that Slovenia was “told that if it wanted a meeting with the president, it would have to accept a prisoner,” that “the island nation of Kiribati [in the central Pacific] was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees” (the Uighurs, the most high-profile cleared detainees in the prison), and that Belgium was told that “accepting more prisoners would be a ‘low-cost way’ to ‘attain prominence in Europe.’”
In addition, the Guardian posted a cable detailing discussions in March 2009 between John Brennan, President Obama’s principal counterterrorism adviser, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Most notable for the King’s fiery, warmongering rhetoric about Iran, the meeting also involved Brennan giving the King “a letter from President Obama expressing a personal message of friendship, appreciation for our close and collaborative relationship and concern over the disposition of Yemeni detainees at Guantánamo” — 99 in total, at the time of Brennan’s visit.
Following discussions about the Yemenis, the cable noted:
“I’ve just thought of something,” the King added, and proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, “horses don’t have good lawyers,” and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.
Elsewhere, the Washington Post noted, “During a meeting between U.S. and Chinese ambassadors in Kyrgyzstan in early 2009, the Chinese diplomat said it was a “slap in the face” that the United States was not returning Chinese Uighur detainees to their homeland but was instead planning to resettle them in Germany,” which never happened.
The problem with all these stories is that they reveal nothing that was not already known, and, moreover, skip over the uncomfortable truth that, when it comes to closing Guantánamo and dealing with the prisoners still held there, every problem that America encounters is of its own making.
No one should be surprised that a certain amount of horse-trading, arm-twisting, and envelopes stuffed full of cash were involved in relocating former Guantánamo prisoners to the majority of the 16 countries in which those who could not safely be repatriated were given new homes. With a few exceptions, the countries that took prisoners very obviously sought money and/or influence.
Belgium was not particularly prominent in this list — although the country did indeed take a prisoner in October 2009 — any more than were Ireland, Portugal, and Spain (and Portugal’s former colony Cape Verde), which have all taken former prisoners, but from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union countries were almost queuing up for favors: in Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia. Noticeably, however, Slovenia, despite the mention in the Wikileaks documents, obviously thought twice about the importance it attached to securing a personal audience with President Obama, as it has not taken in a single former Guantánamo prisoner, and nor has Kiribati, despite the offer of millions of dollars.
Outside of the middle and lower rungs of the pecking order, France, which took two Algerians in 2009, and Germany, which made up for turning down the Uighurs, taking a stateless Palestinian and a Syrian in September this year, had less to gain, except, perhaps, for making their neighbors look less generous, and Switzerland picked up where Germany left off by taking two Uighurs in March this year, risking the wrath of China that its northern neighbor was so anxious to avoid. Others who punched above their weight to help the Uighurs — Bermuda, which took four in June 2009, and Palau, which took six in October 2009 — did so not only for influence and/or financial reward, but also because they were not afraid of China: wealthy Bermuda because it is immune to the need for Chinese support, and Palau because the tiny nation in the north Pacific deals with Taiwan rather than Beijing.
As for the Saudi story, the Washington Post correctly noted that Brennan’s meeting involved hopes that King Abdullah would accept some of the Yemenis into its rehabilitation program, but noted that this was “an ambition that faltered along with the plan to close Guantánamo Bay” — as indeed it did, quietly fading away despite extensive and hopeful reporting about the plan, which lasted throughout most of 2009.
This kind of vague reference to the failure to close Guantánamo is as far as the mainstream media has gone in its analysis of why negotiations with other countries were so important. For those seeking powerful headlines that never appear, the blunt truth is that almost everything of importance relating to Guantánamo, and an unacceptable situation in which, it now appears, the prison may never close, involves four parties in the United States, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Wikileaks or with other countries, as it relates primarily to the miserable manner in which the resettlement of the Uighurs was handled.
The first of these four culpable parties is President Obama’s Justice Department, which, in February 2009, fought to prevent the Uighurs from being re-housed in the U.S., as ordered by Judge Ricardo Urbina when he granted their habeas corpus petition in October 2008.
The second is the D.C. Circuit Court, which agreed with the Justice Department, and made some contentious arguments about immigration and executive power to prevent their release.
The third is Congress, which came close to passing a law preventing any Guantánamo prisoner from being brought to the U.S. mainland for any reason in the fall of 2009, but then relented, agreeing — in theory, at least — that prisoners could be brought to the mainland for trial, but not for any other reason (although no one has been transferred to the United States since the law was passed).
The fourth is President Obama, who, in May 2009, killed a plan by White House Counsel Greg Craig to bring two of the Uighurs to live in the United States, as a precursor to bringing more, and on the clear understanding that it would encourage other countries to take cleared prisoners who couldn’t be returned home.
Although these decisions paved the way for the negotiations highlighted in the Wikileaks documents, the main problem now is that it looks as though even the horse-trading has stopped. There are apparently 33 prisoners — most of whom face the risk of torture if repatriated — who are awaiting release, or who are “approved for transfer,” to use the phrase that Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force learned from President Bush when it reviewed the cases of all the prisoners last year, although the well of countries prepared to take them appears to have dried up.
And the rest? There are 58 Yemenis, also “approved for transfer,” but held on what seems to be a permanent basis because of a moratorium on releasing anyone to Yemen, which President Obama announced last January, after it was revealed that the failed Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had trained in Yemen; 34 other men, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, who were recommended for trials that Obama doesn’t want to risk pursuing; and 48 others whom the Task Force recommended should be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
Compared to this, some horse-trading and financial incentives are nothing, and compared to making deals with other countries, the real story is that Guantánamo may never close, and no one seems to care.
WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners
In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration’s "War on Terror" — the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January 11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.
In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo — 765 out of 779 in total — are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
These memoranda, known as Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments). They consist of a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 172 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).
They also include information on the first 201 prisoners released from the prison, between 2002 and 2004, which, unlike information on the rest of the prisoners (summaries of evidence and tribunal transcripts, released as the result of a lawsuit filed by media groups in 2006), has never been made public before. Most of these documents reveal accounts of incompetence familiar to those who have studied Guantánamo closely, with innocent men detained by mistake (or because the US was offering substantial bounties to its allies for al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects), and numerous insignificant Taliban conscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Beyond these previously unknown cases, the documents also reveal stories of the 399 other prisoners released from September 2004 to the present day, and of the seven men who have died at the prison.
The memos are signed by the commander of Guantánamo at the time, and describe whether the prisoners in question are regarded as low, medium or high risk. Although they were obviously not conclusive in and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken at a higher level, they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.
Crucially, the files also contain detailed explanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners’ detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of the documents, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings of US intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof of prisoners’ association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extreme caution is required.
The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses — in most cases, the prisoners’ fellow prisoners — whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.
Regular appearances throughout these documents by witnesses whose words should be regarded as untrustworthy include the following "high-value detainees" or "ghost prisoners". Please note that "ISN" and the numbers in brackets following the prisoners’ names refer to the short "Internment Serial Numbers" by which the prisoners are or were identified in US custody:
Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016), the supposed "high-value detainee" seized in Pakistan in March 2002, who spent four and a half years in secret CIA prisons, including facilities in Thailand and Poland. Subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, on 83 occasions in CIA custody August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was moved to Guantánamo with 13 other "high-value detainees" in September 2006.
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212), the emir of a military training camp for which Abu Zubaydah was the gatekeeper, who, despite having his camp closed by the Taliban in 2000, because he refused to allow it to be taken over by al-Qaeda, is described in these documents as Osama bin Laden’s military commander in Tora Bora. Soon after his capture in December 2001, al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where, under torture, he falsely confessed that al-Qaeda operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi recanted this particular lie, but it was nevertheless used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Al-Libi was never sent to Guantánamo, although at some point, probably in 2006, the CIA sent him back to Libya, where he was imprisoned, and where he died, allegedly by committing suicide, in May 2009.
Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj (ISN 1457), a Yemeni, also known as Riyadh the Facilitator, who was seized in a house raid in Pakistan in February 2002, and is described as "an al-Qaeda facilitator." After his capture, he was transferred to a torture prison in Jordan run on behalf of the CIA, where he was held for nearly two years, and was then held for six months in US facilities in Afghanistan. He was flown to Guantánamo in September 2004.
Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi (ISN 1453), a Yemeni, who was seized in the UAE in January 2003, and then held in three secret prisons, including the "Dark Prison" near Kabul and a secret facility within the US prison at Bagram airbase. In February 2010, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. granted the habeas corpus petition of a Yemeni prisoner, Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, largely because he refused to accept testimony produced by either Sharqawi al-Hajj or Sanad al-Kazimi. As he stated, "The Court will not rely on the statements of Hajj or Kazimi because there is unrebutted evidence in the record that, at the time of the interrogations at which they made the statements, both men had recently been tortured."
Others include Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (ISN 10012) and Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014), two more of the "high-value detainees" transferred into Guantánamo in September 2006, after being held in secret CIA prisons.
Other unreliable witnesses, held at Guantánamo throughout their detention, include:
Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni known as a notorious liar. As the Washington Post reported in February 2009, he was given preferential treatment in Guantánamo after becoming what some officials regarded as a significant informant, although there were many reasons to be doubtful. As the Post noted, "military officials ... expressed reservations about the credibility of their star witness since 2004," and in 2006, in an article for the National Journal, Corine Hegland described how, after a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at which a prisoner had taken exception to information provided by Basardah, placing him at a training camp before he had even arrived in Afghanistan, his personal representative (a military official assigned instead of a lawyer) investigated Basardah’s file, and found that he had made similar claims against 60 other prisoners in total. In January 2009, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Richard Leon (an appointee of George W. Bush) excluded Basardah’s statements while granting the habeas corpus petition of Mohammed El-Gharani, a Chadian national who was just 14 years old when he was seized in a raid on a mosque in Pakistan. Judge Leon noted that the government had "specifically cautioned against relying on his statements without independent corroboration," and in other habeas cases that followed, other judges relied on this precedent, discrediting the "star witness" still further.
Mohammed al-Qahtani (ISN 063), a Saudi regarded as the planned 20th hijacker for the 9/11 attacks, wassubjected to a specific torture program at Guantánamo, approved by defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. This consisted of 20-hour interrogations every day, over a period of several months, and various other "enhanced interrogation techniques," which severely endangered his health. Variations of these techniques then migrated to other prisoners in Guantánamo (and to Abu Ghraib), and in January 2009, just before George W. Bush left office, Susan Crawford, a retired judge and a close friend of Dick Cheney and David Addington, who was appointed to oversee the military commissions at Guantánamo as the convening authority, told Bob Woodward that she had refused to press charges against al-Qahtani, because, as she said, "We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture." As a result, his numerous statements about other prisoners must be regarded as worthless.
Abd al-Hakim Bukhari (ISN 493), a Saudi imprisoned by al-Qaeda as a spy, who was liberated by US forces from a Taliban jail before being sent, inexplicably, to Guantánamo (along with four other men liberated from the jail) is regarded in the files as a member of al-Qaeda, and a trustworthy witness.
Abd al-Rahim Janko (ISN 489), a Syrian Kurd, tortured by al-Qaeda as a spy and then imprisoned by the Taliban along with Abd al-Hakim Bukhari, above, is also used as a witness, even though he was mentally unstable. As his assessment in June 2008 stated, "Detainee is on a list of high-risk detainees from a health perspective ... He has several chronic medical problems. He has a psychiatric history of substance abuse, depression, borderline personality disorder, and prior suicide attempt for which he is followed by behavioral health for treatment."
These are just some of the most obvious cases, but alert readers will notice that they are cited repeatedly in what purports to be the government’s evidence, and it should, as a result, be difficult not to conclude that the entire edifice constructed by the government is fundamentally unsound, and that what the Guantánamo Files reveal, primarily, is that only a few dozen prisoners are genuinely accused of involvement in terrorism.
The rest, these documents reveal on close inspection, were either innocent men and boys, seized by mistake, or Taliban foot soldiers, unconnected to terrorism. Moreover, many of these prisoners were actually sold to US forces, who were offering bounty payments for al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects, by their Afghan and Pakistani allies — a policy that led ex-President Musharraf to state, in his 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, that, in return for handing over 369 terror suspects to the US, the Pakistani government “earned bounty payments totalling millions of dollars.”
Uncomfortable facts like these are not revealed in the deliberations of the Joint Task Force, but they are crucial to understanding why what can appear to be a collection of documents confirming the government’s scaremongering rhetoric about Guantánamo — the same rhetoric that has paralyzed President Obama, and revived the politics of fear in Congress — is actually the opposite: the anatomy of a colossal crime perpetrated by the US government on 779 prisoners who, for the most part, are not and never have been the terrorists the government would like us to believe they are.
How to Read WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files
The nearly 800 documents in WikiLeaks’ latest release of classified US documents are memoranda from Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO), the combined force in charge of the US "War on Terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to US Southern Command, in Miami, Florida, regarding the disposition of the prisoners.
Written between 2002 and 2008, the memoranda were all marked as "secret," and their subject was whether to continue holding a prisoner, or whether to recommend his release (described as his "transfer" — to the custody of his own government, or that of some other government). They were obviously not conclusive in and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken at a higher level, but they are very significant, as they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.
Under the heading, "JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment," the memos generally contain nine sections, describing the prisoners as follows, although the earlier examples, especially those dealing with prisoners released — or recommended for release — between 2002 and 2004, may have less detailed analyses than the following:
1. Personal information
Each prisoner is identified by name, by aliases, which the US claims to have identified, by place and date of birth, by citizenship, and by Internment Serial Number (ISN). These long lists of numbers and letters — e.g. US9YM-000027DP — are used to identify the prisoners in Guantánamo, helping to dehumanize them, as intended, by doing away with their names. The most significant section is the number towards the end, which is generally shortened, so that the example above would be known as ISN 027. In the files, the prisoners are identified by nationality, with 47 countries in total listed alphabetically, from "az" for Afghanistan to "ym" for Yemen.
This section describes whether or not the prisoner in question has mental health issues and/or physical health issues. Many are judged to be in good health, but there are some shocking examples of prisoners with severe mental and/or physical problems.
3. JTF-GTMO Assessment
a. Under "Recommendation," the Task Force explains whether a prisoner should continue to be held, or should be released. b. Under "Executive Summary," the Task Force briefly explains its reasoning, and, in more recent cases, also explains whether the prisoner is a low, medium or high risk as a threat to the US and its allies and as a threat in detention (i.e. based on their behavior in Guantánamo), and also whether they are regarded as of low, medium or high intelligence value. c. Under "Summary of Changes," the Task Force explains whether there has been any change in the information provided since the last appraisal (generally, the prisoners are appraised on an annual basis).
4. Detainee’s Account of Events
Based on the prisoners’ own testimony, this section puts together an account of their history, and how they came to be seized, in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, based on their own words.
5. Capture Information
This section explains how and where the prisoners were seized, and is followed by a description of their possessions at the time of capture, the date of their transfer to Guantánamo, and, spuriously, "Reasons for Transfer to JTF-GTMO," which lists alleged reasons for the prisoners’ transfer, such as knowledge of certain topics for exploitation through interrogation. The reason that this is unconvincing is because, as former interrogator Chris Mackey (a pseudonym) explained in his book The Interrogators, the US high command, based in Camp Doha, Kuwait, stipulated that every prisoner who ended up in US custody had to be transferred to Guantánamo — and that there were no exceptions; in other words, the "Reasons for transfer" were grafted on afterwards, as an attempt to justify the largely random rounding-up of prisoners.
6. Evaluation of Detainee’s Account
In this section, the Task Force analyzes whether or not they find the prisoners’ accounts convincing.
7. Detainee Threat
This section is the most significant from the point of view of the supposed intelligence used to justify the detention of prisoners. After "Assessment," which reiterates the conclusion at 3b, the main section, "Reasons for Continued Detention," may, at first glance, look convincing, but it must be stressed that, for the most part, it consists of little more than unreliable statements made by the prisoners’ fellow prisoners — either in Guantánamo, or in secret prisons run by the CIA, where torture and other forms of coercion were widespread, or through more subtle means in Guantánamo, where compliant prisoners who were prepared to make statements about their fellow prisoners were rewarded with better treatment. Some examples are available on the homepage for the release of these documents: http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/
With this in mind, it should be noted that there are good reasons why Obama administration officials, in the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by the President to review the cases of the 241 prisoners still held in Guantánamo when he took office, concluded that only 36 could be prosecuted.
The final part of this section, "Detainee’s Conduct," analyzes in detail how the prisoners have behaved during their imprisonment, with exact figures cited for examples of "Disciplinary Infraction."
8. Detainee Intelligence Value Assessment
After reiterating the intelligence assessment at 3b and recapping on the prisoners’ alleged status, this section primarily assesses which areas of intelligence remain to be "exploited," according to the Task Force.
9. EC Status
The final section notes whether or not the prisoner in question is still regarded as an "enemy combatant," based on the findings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, held in 2004-05 to ascertain whether, on capture, the prisoners had been correctly labeled as "enemy combatants." Out of 558 cases, just 38 prisoners were assessed as being "no longer enemy combatants," and in some cases, when the result went in the prisoners’ favor, the military convened new panels until it got the desired result.
The U.S. and its allies which planned a 'regime change' in Syria, are providing their so called 'rebels' not only with weapons.
They bombard us also with horror facts and war propaganda, to justify a war against Syria.
Below we publish some information about Syria’s five-year plan that included measures to reduce poverty.
'Syria in search of paradigm': Social policy objectives
Syria’s active five-year plan, lasting until 2010, commits the government to further expansion of the open market. The goal of a social market economy is spelled out. The plan includes measures to reduce poverty, introduce safety nets and create productive jobs. It is noteworthy that the market system will be introduced in a five-year plan, an instrument typical of central planning. It is interesting, moreover, that the term “social market economy” is currently acknowledged only in Germany as the name of an existing economic system, although similar political models do exist in other European countries. Syria is the first country outside Europe to adapt Germany’s system to its ends. The principles of traditional Arab social security systems align surprisingly well with those of a social market economy: The principles of equal opportunities and social responsibility are cornerstones of both systems (see box). The centrality of these principles in a social market economy distinguishes it as an alternative to the Anglo- Saxon variety of capitalism.
German development policy supports the Syrian government's reform efforts towards a social market economy. As with China, it’s hoped that an open market will eventually lead to political liberalisation. German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the government agency, is cooperating in a project in Damascus with, amongst others, Syria's reformist Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah al-Dardari. GTZ provides a mix of policy advice, institutional development and capacity building to help improve the analysis, planning and implementation of economic reforms. “Social, labour and employment policy are also important issues,” says GTZ's Michael Krakowski. "Our main aim is to support a regulatory policy that reduces social distortions.”
The performance of the economy suggests that the reformers are on the right path: since 2004, there have been signs of a moderate recovery. While the World Bank recorded just 2 % annual economic growth in 2003, it noted 6 % in 2004 and even 7 % in 2007.