Breaking up a terror plot

Peacenik says this is not a reason for Canada to stay in Afghanistan. Peacenik says this does not justify Guantanamo, torture, unlawful surveillance, war crimes, bloated military budgets or the war on terror. Just watch Harper and his acolytes cranking up the fear machine. There is less dissent in society today than there was in the 60's. And there are more reasons for dissent today. Peacenik says bring the troops home now.

The “Toronto 18” conspiracy may have been Canada’s first major homegrown terror threat after 9/11, but if police are to be believed it is far from being the last.

While some worry about being targeted by “foreign” terrorists linked to Al Qaeda or other extremist groups, we can hardly afford to be complacent about perils close at hand. Three more Canadians now stand accused of plotting bombings in Ottawa. And the fact that one of them appears, bizarrely, to have been involved in a goofy song-and-dance act on Canadian Idol hardly detracts from the gravity of the charges.

The RCMP reported yesterday that police had been watching the trio’s network for a year and swooped down on them Wednesday. That prevented them from sending money to conspirators abroad for weapons to use against Canadian troops and allies in Afghanistan. It also prevented them from leaving the country, and from building bombs and staging attacks on the nation’s capital. Rightly, police put public safety first by acting when they did.

Read on...


Walkom: The G20 protests and judicial farce

Image By Thomas Walkom

Those who accused the authorities of criminalizing dissent during Toronto’s ill-starred G20 summit got it only half right. As this week’s judicial farce demonstrates, the people in charge of public security during that raucous weekend went off the rails. They acted as if potential dissent were a crime.
How else to explain the numbers? During the summit, police arrested more than 1,100 people. Of those, some 800 were jailed — in some cases for more than 36 hours — yet never charged.
Of the 304 who were charged, the government now acknowledges that nine were fingered mistakenly. Another 58 more had their charges withdrawn or stayed Monday during a mass court appearance. The reason? There never was enough evidence to charge them in the first place.
In some cases, hapless Crown prosecutors tried to cover their embarrassment by striking deals with the accused: Pay $50 or $100 to your favourite charity and we’ll forget the charges.

Yep the police went crazy.
Peacenik says it is time for an official investigation into police misconduct. If the police broke the law, charge them. Accountability. Isn't that what the media was preaching for the protesters? Isn't that what the Chief was promising for the protesters? How about some police accountability. Heads should roll.


The Gulf Crisis is Not Over: Slow Violence and the BP Coverups

punditman says...

War, human rights, unemployment, corrupt economics, crazy viruses, wingnut right wingers running for officeeven on a "good" news day these concerns are enough to make you choke on your organic beer! Throw in an environmental crisis here and there and it just may be too much to take.

Yet we ignore ongoing environmental catastrophes such as the BP oil spill at our peril. One cannot depend on the mainstream media to do the necessary follow-up investigations once an issue has fallen off their news cycle's radar. This article caught punditman's eye not only because of the magnitude of the ongoing apocalypse continuing in the Gulf of Mexico but because it definitely falls under punditman's mission statement to cut through fog, expose lies and help unravel the Media-Industrial-Military-Financial complex. So read this article by Anne McClintock. It's long, but it exposes the health and environmental consequences of spraying dispersant while dispersing lies and the ongoing cover-up by BP and the US government, and the complicity of the mass media. Hopefully it will  inform, enlighten and enable. Try not to choke on your beerorganic or otherwise.

A CounterPunch Special Report

Three vanishing acts are being played out in the Gulf: the disappearing of the oil from the ocean surface by Corexit, the disappearing of the story by the media blockade, and the disappearing from view of the shadowy private contractors who are making a mint helping BP and the Coast Guard keep a cover on the clean-up. This triple vanishing trick, collectively choreographed by BP and sundry federal agencies, culminated on August 4th in a report released by NOAA that claimed 75% of the oil spill had been captured, burned, evaporated or broken down. The White House hailed the report as something to celebrate. Energy advisor Carol Browne announced: “the vast majority of the oil is gone.”

A clamor of outrage immediately rose from the Gulf, as residents refused to dance the crisis-is-over, happy-feet dance. Hundreds of locals furiously insisted that they were still seeing masses of oil on ocean, beaches and marshes, and dead fish, dolphins, sharks, birds and other marine life washing ashore. Then on August 18th scientists from the Universities of Georgia and South Florida produced an open challenge to the White House report, asserting that 70% to 79% of the oil in the Gulf still remained in the water. Charles Hopkinson, a professor of marine science at the University of Georgia declared: “The idea that 75% of the oil is gone and of no concern to the environment is just absolutely incorrect.” 

Spike Lee, filming in the Gulf, scoffed at what he called the BP/White House “abracabra kawabanga” trick and called on journalists to stay with the story. A few weeks earlier, the triple vanishing act had come together personally for me in a story that Steve, a private contractor, told in the shadows of a southern Louisiana bar. I call the contractor Steve, though that is not his real name. I cannot tell you his real name because he has assured me that he will kill me if I do. I had been in the Gulf for three days with Karin Hayes, a film-maker, documenting the oil-spill when Steve approached us in the bar, urgently wanting to tell us something.

“It’s as if a nuclear apocalypse has gone off in the Gulf,” he said. “The media is not telling the truth. No one is telling the truth. Let me tell you something. Yesterday on the beach where we work, my crew cleaned up seven hundred bags of oil. Today we went back and the beach was completely covered in oil, as if we had never been there. Today we carried away another seven hundred and fifty bags. Every day we clean up, then the tide brings it in again. The oil is everywhere, deep under the sand. Today I wanted to measure the oil, so I stuck my shovel into the sand and the oil was down there eight inches deep.”


Don’t Call It Combat: US Troops Still Fighting Iraq War in Everything But Name

punditman says...If all you watched was mainstream news you may think US combat operations were over in Iraq. "They came, They surged, They Withdrew" is their tagline. Ah...not quite. Here's the skinny: 50,000 American troops will stay another year (at least) in what is being called a "noncombat role." Noncombat involves carrying weapons to defend themselves and accompanying Iraqi troops on missions (but only if asked). Meanwhile, US Special forces will continue to help Iraqis hunt for "terrorists" (read: anyone who opposes them). Sounds like war to me. Just don't mention the war.

By Jason Ditz 

It was business as usual in Iraq today for 56,000 US troops, despite the canned “victory” celebration yesterday the troops, though by and large redefined as something, anything, other than “combat troops” were still out and about, doing the exact same things they were doing when they were still engaging in combat.

Just pretend the guns aren't there

It's just that its called “counter-terrorism operations” instead of combat now. The “last brigade” may have left yesterday, but six more brigades are still there, wondering when or even if it will be their turn to be the “last” to leave.

And while the celebration must have been thrilling for that “last” brigade, it must be somewhat bittersweet for the troops still there, who as far as the media are concerned are an afterthought, probably doing training or some such.

In fact even if we were to ignore the 50,000 renamed troops the claim of an end to combat operations yesterday wasn’t true, as some 6,000 troops which are still designated as combat troops still haven’t left, though they are scheduled to do so at some point in the future.

Still these 6,000 combat troops leave one wondering why yesterday of all days was selected as the official “end of the war” day, and makes the date seem even more arbitrary than it already was.


Punishing the WikiLeaker Misses the Point

punditman says...This is Eric Margolis's last syndicated column for the Toronto Sun. Fortunately his informed writings will continue to appear elsewhere. The only part that punditman questions is his last line:
If Americans and Canadians really knew the truth of this resource-driven war, and its carefully concealed cost, they would end it very quickly.
Perhaps. But punditman is not so sure that people don't already know they are being lied to but not enough people really care, or not enough care enough to do something about it, or not enough  feel there is any use in trying because they  feel government doesn't listen, or not enough...

by Eric Margolis

George Orwell wrote: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

A true journalist's job is to expose government wrongdoing and propaganda, skewer hypocrites, and speak for those with no voice. And wage war against mankind's two worst scourges: Nationalism and religious bigotry. Not to lick the boots of government.

I've always felt kinship for free thinkers, rebels, and heretics.

That's why I am drawn to the plight of Pte. Bradley Manning who apparently believed Ernest Hemingway's dictum: "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime."

The 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst caused a worldwide furor by releasing to WikiLeaks secret military logs that exposed ugly truths about the brutal conflict in Afghanistan, including widespread killing of civilians.

To again quote Orwell: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

Keep Reading...


The Omar Khadr travesty

punditman says...As punditman noted here, this case is truly bizarre. Punditman continues to view this case as something right out off the scale in terms of propaganda and hypocrisy. Glenn Greenwald echoes the thoughts of punditman when he says: 

...how can it possibly be that the U.S. invades a foreign country, and then when people in that country -- such as Khadr -- fight back against the invading army, by attacking purely military targets via a purely military act (throwing a grenade at a solider, who was part of a unit ironically using an abandoned Soviet runway as its outpost), they become "war criminals," or even Terrorists, who must be shipped halfway around the world, systematically abused, repeatedly declared to be one of "the worst of the worst," and then held in a cage for almost a full decade (one third of his life and counting)?  It's hard to imagine anything which more compellingly underscores the completely elastic and manipulated "meaning" of "Terrorist" than this case:  in essence, the U.S. is free to do whatever it wants, and anyone who fights back, even against our invading armies and soldiers (rather than civilians), is a war criminal and a Terrorist.

By Glenn Greenwald

The only real reason I thought Robert Gibbs' comments yesterday merited a response is not because of the ephemeral melodrama it created -- the White House said Fox-copying, mean things about the Left -- but because of the "substantive" claim he made that comparisons of Bush and Obama were so blatantly insane that they merited "drug testing."  That Obama has vigorously embraced and at times even exceeded some of Bush's most controversial and radical policies is simply indisputable.  I'd request that anyone doubting that just review the very partial list I compiled in Update II yesterday.  In that list, I neglected to mention numerous other compelling examples (recall Tim Dickinson's recent revelation that Interior employees call their Department under Ken Salazar's corporate-serving rule "the third Bush term").  Among my most prominent omissions was the Obama administration's Bush-copying use of military commissions rather than real courts to try "War on Terror" detainees. 

Military commissions were one of those Bush/Cheney policies which provoked virtually universal outrage among progressives and Democrats back in the day when executive power abuses and rule of law transgressions were a concern.  The Obama administration's claim that the commissions are now improved to the point that they provide a forum of real justice is being put to the test -- and blatantly failing -- with the first such commission to be held under Obama:  that of Omar Khadr, accused of throwing a grenade in 2002 which killed an American solider in Afghanistan, when Khadr was 15 years old.  This is the first trial of a child soldier held since World War II, explained a U.N. official who condemned these proceedings.   The commission has already ruled that confessions made by Khadr which were clearly obtained through coercion, abuse and torture will be admitted as evidence against him.  Prior to the commencement of Khadr's "trial," the commission ruled in another case that the sentence imposed on a Sudanese detainee Ibrahim al-Qosi -- convicted as part of a plea bargain of the dastardly crime of being Osama bin Laden's "cook" -- will be kept secret until he is released.  What kind of country has secret sentences?


Iraq Veterans Against the War Calls for Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials for War Crimes

NEW YORK - August 10 - At its seventh annual national convention in Austin, Texas, IVAW called for the prosecution of senior Bush administration officials for allegedly conspiring to manipulate intelligence in order to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
IVAW alleges that Bush administration officials conspired to create the perception that Saddam Hussein presented an imminent threat to the United States in order to bypass an uncooperative U.N. Security Council and secure a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. The growing body of evidence, including testimony from British officials in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry, indicates that Bush officials could be charged with criminal offenses against the United States and violations of international law for making false claims to national self-defense.
There are many war crimes being committed in Iraq/Afghanistan. And not just by the U.S. But after years of propaganda and right wing neo con governments the public seems to have completely lost its appetite for justice. Even torture generates no more than a yawn from the public and the mainstream media. Peacenik says bring the troops home now. And prosecute the criminals.

Serial Denial and the Permanent War System

by Gareth Porter

Two months ago, I wrote that the Obama administration and the U.S. command in Afghanistan faced an "Iraq 2006 moment" in the second half of 2010 - a collapse of domestic political support for a failed war paralleling the political crisis in Bush's Iraq War in 2006. Now comes Republican Congressman Frank Wolf to make that parallel with 2006 eerily precise.

Wolf published a letter to President Obama last week calling for the immediate establishment of an "Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group". It would be the son of the Iraq Study Group. Wolf is the Congressman who authored the legislation in 2005 creating the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group to come up with fresh ideas for that failing war. The Wolf proposal came nearly a year after American public had turned against the war decisively in January 2005, when support for the war fell to 39 percent.

The U.S. public had withdrawn its support because it had become obvious that the war was a failure. The Bush administration had overthrown the Saddam Hussein regime only to unleash a violent Sunni-Shi'a sectarian power struggle that the U.S. military couldn't control. Even worse, the U.S. military presence was objectively supporting one side in that power struggle by building up a clearly sectarian military and police sector, even as it pretended by the honest broker between Sunni and Shi'a.

Read on...

When the history is written about the Iraq/Afghan wars, Peacenik doesn't think anyone is going to look good. No one looks good now. Bring the troops home now.


Omar Khadr: Justice Mangled is Justice Denied

punditman says...

The sheer bizarreness of the Omar Khadr case and the trial now unfolding has astounded punditman from the beginning. Punditman is not easily astounded nor is he readily shocked at the rampant criminality of the powerful. But this story, because it has always been so transparently unjust (and stupid), actually continues to amaze Punditman's sensibilities.

Setting aside the shameful and disgusting role of the Canadian government, the sickening opinions of some citizen-fascists (displayed by many a comment on the inter webs as well as recent polling results), punditman's opinion has always been rather simple minded regarding this farcical charade: here we have the world's superpower accusing a child of war crimes. This laughable fact alone has been enough to make punditman wish he lived on a planet where things made a lick of sense. Punditman always thought that the charge of war crimes was reserved for, well, grown ups who command armies and stuff like that. Not so on post-9-11 planet cockeyed.

For a little refresher on the case's real deal, here is the Globe and Mail's Lawrence Martin:

At issue is not whether Mr. Khadr is innocent or guilty of killing an American medic during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002. For argument’s sake, let’s say he’s guilty. Let’s say he knew what he was doing as a 15-year-old, that he had not been brainwashed since he was 8 by his al-Qaeda father. Let’s say that his action in the firefight was unprovoked, that prison-guard reports that he is well-behaved and salvageable are hogwash, and that he is basically rotten to the core. Even if this were all true, any self-respecting society that believes in the principles of fundamental justice would not respond to his case the way Canada has. Omar Khadr has been held eight years without trial.
So true. Moreover, is it just punditman or has any other half lucid observer of this case noticed its supreme hypocrisy? It's fine for the United States, (and allies), with "global reach" to invade countries under dubious or unlawful pretenses, to occupy, to kidnap, kill and torture at will, to bomb weddings via drone, form assassination squads, kill other people's kids, (I am just getting started!), all the while piling up terabytes of half truths, lies and propagandaand with no punitive legal repercussions. Then to have the temerity to seriously look the world in the face and apply a different set of rules for those they deem enemy combatants? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Is it a fool's errand for Punditman to search for some moral compass and sense of balance here in cockeyed world?

Yes, terrorism exists. It is a crime. Individuals and groups engage in it.  There are things that can be done to mitigate against it and sometimes there is nothing that can be done to stop specific acts. But there are ways to not make it worse. And as the exhausting list of suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan makes clear, war is not one of them. So nation states and armies also engage in terror. Surely by now, this endless War on Terror Everyone's Freedom has made a mockery of the very freedom our armies are supposedly sent thousands of miles offshore to defend and impart. What dweebs we are for allowing this debacle to continue unaddressed.

For more on the mangling of "justice" at Guantanamo Bay and the Khadr case, Chase Mader has a very detailed and insightful piece here
Enough punditman gut reaction. Instead, punditman is compelled to get all legal and technical in order to discuss this topic in polite company. So here he goes: trying a detainee who was 15 at the time of his alleged crimes violates the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, a United Nations measure ratified by the United States in 2002. The idea is to safeguard from prosecution, those juveniles involved in armed conflict. You see the UN recognizes that kids are not born with grenades and rocket launchers for appendages and instead end up in war zones due to adult coercion or pressure. A simple enough concept for grown ups to endorse, but not apparently for the sleazy clowns we elect to run our governments, beholden as they are to the stylish military ethos and creeping fascism of our times.   

So, yes, Omar Khadr is now 23 years old and has been held for eight years without trial.  For what it's worth, this show trial is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Since World War Two's Nuremberg trails, no international criminal tribunal has ever prosecuted former child soldiers as war criminals. Nor should any military kangaroo court, which should not even exist. In a democracy, that is.


Too Lazy To Read The Wikileaks Data? Here It Is, In Easily Digestable Video Format

Too lazy to comb through the thousands of disclosures in the Wikileaks data? Shannon Larratt has created the following youtube video of monthly IED events in Afghanistan, in which a monthly tally of injuries and casualties is kept, both "friendly" and "enemy." The results are dramatic, and reminiscent of the clip showing how the US and Russia nuked their own territory several thousand times in the past 60 years. They are also reminiscent of various admonitions (unheeded) from The Prince Bride.

Here is how Shannon describes the data:

Read on...

Follow the link and check out the video. Peacenik says bring the troops home now.