Spend 4 days inside Guantánamo

YOU DON’T LIKE THE TRUTH – 4 days inside Guantánamo is a documentary based on security camera footage from the Guantánamo Bay prison.

This encounter between a team of Canadian intelligence agents and a child detainee [Omar Khadr] in Guantánamo has never before been seen. Based on seven hours of video footage recently declassified by the Canadian courts this documentary delves into the unfolding high-stakes game of cat and mouse between captor and captive over a four day period. Maintaining the surveillance camera style this film analyzes the political, legal and scientific aspects of a forced dialogue.

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US Court Denies Justice to Dead Men at Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington

Last Wednesday, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Ellen Huvelle turned down (PDF) a second attempt by the families of Yasser al-Zahrani, a Saudi, and Salah al-Salami, a Yemeni (two of the three men who died in mysterious circumstances in Guantánamo on June 9, 2006, along with Mani al-Utaybi, another Saudi) to hold US officials accountable for the circumstances in which their family members were held and in which they died.

Judge Huvelle’s ruling came in spite of additional evidence submitted by the families (PDF), drawing on the accounts of four US soldiers who were present in Guantánamo at the time of the deaths, and who have presented a number of compelling reasons why the official story of the men’s triple suicide (as endorsed by a Naval Criminal Investigative Service report in 2008) is a cover-up. That story, written by Scott Horton, was published by Harper’s Magazine in January this year, and I covered it here, and also in an update in June, although it has largely been ignored in the mainstream US media.

The case, Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, was initially filed in January 2009, and primarily involved the families of the dead men seeking to claim damages through the precedent of a case known as Bivens, decided by the Supreme Court in 1971, in which, for the first time, damages claims for constitutional violations committed by federal agents were allowed. The families claimed relief under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause (preventing individuals from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law”) and the Eighth Amendment (which prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments”), as well as submitting a claim, under the Alien Tort Claims Act, “alleging torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and violations of the Geneva Conventions.”

Despite the families’ claims, the case was dismissed by the District Court on February 16, 2010, for two particular reasons. One involved a handful of legal precedents — including Rasul v. Myers, a case brought in 2006 by four former Guantánamo detainees from the UK, which was finally turned down by the Supreme Court in December 2009. In the hope of making tortuous legal reasoning comprehensible to the lay reader, these rulings essentially provide precedents for preventing the courts from providing a Bivens remedy and entitle the defendants to “qualified immunity against plaintiffs’ constitutional claims.”

Rather more readily comprehensible, and deeply shocking, is a clause in the Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in the fall of 2006 and unchanged in the legislation revived under President Obama in 2009, which, as well as creating — or bringing back to life — the much-criticized Military Commission trial system for Guantánamo prisoners that was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June 2006, also granted blanket immunity to anyone involved in any activities relating to the detention and treatment of prisoners held in the “War on Terror.”

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Venezuela Election: Victory or Setback for Chavez?

The Real News — Gregory Wilpert is a sociologist, freelance journalist, editor of Venezuela Analysis, and author of the recently published book, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power. During this episode of The Real News with Paul Jay Wilpert argues that the Venezuelan election results will make governing more difficult for Hugo Chavez.

John Mearsheimer: Why does a smart country act so stupid?

In October 2002, when Barack Obama delivered his defining “dumb war” denunciation of war against Iraq, he was a state senator standing in at Chicago’s first big anti-war rally for the invited keynoter, John Mearsheimer, who’d been booked elsewhere. This is one of the stories that Mearsheimer relates in this ranging and immensely interesting interview with Chris Lydon of the Watson Institute, Brown University.

Lydon writes:

It was John Mearsheimer, the foreign policy scholar at the University of Chicago, who’d drafted the ad — op-ed in the New York Times on September 26, 2002 — that I keep pinned over my desk 8 years later. “WAR WITH IRAQ IS NOT IN AMERICA’S NATIONAL INTEREST,” was the headline. Signed by 33 university-based analysts, the ad was a marker then of rare vision, independence and mettle in the “expert” ranks. (My interviews with these uncelebrated heroes are here). Their ad came to stand also for the sorry truth that hitting the target smack-on in these surreal times is not often a good career move. All of that was before Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt at Harvard wrote the book that made them famous, The Israel Lobby.

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The Making of a Virtual Palestinian State

Mosaic Intelligence Report: October 1, 2010 — Direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel might collapse. Will Netanyahu agree to extend the settlement freeze? And, does the prospect for a Palestinian Sate remain viable?

The letter Dajani talks about was actually Dennis Ross’s initiative, who was once described by his own subordinate as ‘Israel’s lawyer’. MJ Rosenberg’s blistering take on Ross’s treacheries is a must read.

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Infamous Israeli Interrogator becomes police chief in Israel

RussiaToday – The appointment of an infamous Israeli interrogator to a high-ranking police post has sent shockwaves among human rights groups. Known among inmates as Captain George, he’s accused of numerous cases of torture and abuse of Arabs. Now that he’s in charge of Arab affairs, many Palestinians fear for their lives. RT’s Paula Slier reports from Israel.