Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* EU COMMON CRIMINALS
Nigel Farage: Years ago, Mrs Thatcher recognised the truth behind the European Project. She saw that it was about taking away democracy from nation states and handing that power to largely unaccountable people.
Knowing as she did that the euro would not work she saw that this was a very dangerous design. Now we in UKIP take that same view and I tried over the years in this parliament to predict what the next moves would be as the euro disaster unfolded.
But not even me, in my most pessimistic of speeches would have imagined, Mr Rehn, that you and others in the Troika would resort to the level of common criminals and steal money from peoples’ bank accounts in order to keep propped up this total failure that is the euro.
You even tried to take money away from the small investors in direct breach of the promise you made back in 2008.
Well the precedent has been set, and if we look at countries like Spain where business bankruptcies are up 45% year on year, we can see what your plan is to deal with the other bailouts as they come.
I must say, the message this sends out to investors is very loud and clear: Get your money out of the Eurozone before they come for you.
What you have done in Cyprus is you actually sounded the death knell of the euro. Nobody in the international community will have confidence in leaving their money there.
And how ironic to see the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev compare your actions and say, ‘ I can only compare it to some of the decisions taken by the Soviet authorities.’
And then we have a new German proposal that says that actually what we ought to do is confiscate some of the value of peoples’ properties in the southern Mediterranean eurozone states.
This European Union is the new communism. It is power without limits. It is creating a tide of human misery and the sooner it is swept away the better.
But what of this place, what of the parliament? This parliament has the ability to hold the Commission to account. I have put down a motion of censure debate on the table. I wonder whether any of you have the courage to recognise it and to support it. I very much doubt that.
And I am minded that there is a new Mrs Thatcher in Europe and he is called Frits Bolkenstein. And he has said of this parliament – remember he is a former Commissioner: ‘It is not representative anymore for the Dutch or European citizen. The European Parliament is living out a federal fantasy which is no longer sustainable.’
How right he is.
* CYPRUS PARLIAMENT TO VOT ON BAIL-OUT AFTER ALL: FIRE AND BRIMSTONE THREATS BEGIN
By Tyler Durden, zerohedge
When the final “bailout” structure of the Cypriot deposit-confiscatory bail-in was revealed in late March, the implied victory for the Troika (which has since notched up its demands for the insolvent country to now sell its 14 tons of gold) was that instead of the deposit haircut passing as a tax, and thus needing a parliament ratification, it would come in the form of a bank resolution, with Laiki bank liquidating and being subsumed by the remaining Bank of Cyprus, and with uninsured depositors in both banks ending up crushed. However, as previously reported, in the interim period deposit outflows have continued and accelerated despite the assorted ineffective “capital controls” which has led to additional underfunding for the local banks, and to a second bailout of Cyprus, this one rising to €23 billion or a 35% increase from the original, as part of which the Troika has demanded that Cyprus sell their gold in the open market. Now, a month later, it appears that the Troika’s initial victory may have been a Pyrrhic one, as yesterday the Cypriot attorney general announced, and today the government’s spokesman confirmed, that the parliament will have to ratify the €23 billion bailout of the tiny island nation after all, thereby refocusing the popular anger from some ephemeral technocrat in Europe to the country’s own elected representatives, thereby changing the calculus of the Cypriot decision by 180 degrees.
Cyprus‘ parliament must ratify a 23-billion-euro (30.3 billion dollar) international bailout deal in order for it to become valid, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said on Wednesday.
“It is not possible that Cyprus‘ bailout deal needs to secure the approval by other parliaments in the eurozone, while at the same time it is not voted on by our parliament,” Stylianides told state radio RIK.
“It looks like the parliaments of the other eurozone countries will pass it and we will now see what ours will do. I hope that the legislators will vote with wisdom and responsibility – I have this expectation,” he added. […]
* GREECE SLASHES CIVIL SERVICE JOBS IN NEW BAILOUT
Athens agrees to shed 4,000 public sector jobs in return for latest EU/IMF/ECB aid package worth €8.8bn
By Helena Smith, Guardian
Greece has secured an aid package worth €8.8bn from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund after the government agreed to cuts including 4,000 public sector job losses this year.
Officials representing the troika of international creditors agreed to release the funds following a government pledge to fire thousands of civil servants in return. The deal includes the disbursement of an initial €2.8bn tranche in the coming weeks, followed by a further €6bn in May.
“Greece is stabilising and its position is becoming more secure at a time when other countries are beginning to feel uncertainty,” said prime minister, Antonis Samaras.
The conservative leader said the time would soon come when Greece “no longer depends on [loan] memorandums”. He added: “Greece will have growth. It will be competitive and outward-looking… we will have a strong Greece.”
The IMF’s visiting mission chief, Pol Thomsen, applauded the country’s fiscal progress. “Greece has indeed come a long way. The fiscal adjustment has been exceptional by any standard,” he said. Thomsen, once a caustic critic of the nation’s economic performance, predicted that Greece would meet budget targets without further pay and pension cuts and would “gradually” return to growth in 2014.
The aid will be used to help recapitalise Greek banks. The comments also appeared to be carefully calibrated to offset the onerous terms Greece must also meet to get the aid. Under the deal, the government endorsed mass lay-offs in the civil service. Samaras said some 15,000 employees would be fired by 2015 with 4,000 redundancies by the end of the year. […]
* GREECE REACHES A DEAL FOR MORE BAILOUT MONEY
By Niki Kitsantonis, NYTimes
After nearly two weeks of tense negotiations, Greece and its troika of foreign creditors said Monday that they had clinched an agreement on economic measures that Athens must enforce to secure the release of further crucial rescue money. Those measures include thousands of layoffs in the civil service.
“We wrapped it up; we have a deal with the troika,” Yannis Stournaras, the nation’s finance minister, told reporters.
Greece has been offered two bailouts worth 240 billion euros, or about $310 billion, over the last three years through a memorandum of understanding with the troika, which comprises the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In a televised address, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the deal showed that years of austerity were beginning to pay off. […]
* BIPARTISAN REPORT: U.S. PRACTICED WIDESPREAD TORTURE, TORTURE HAS “NO JUSTIFICATIO” AND DOESN’T YIELD SIGNIFICAN INFORMATION, NATION’S HIGHEST OFFICIALS BEAR RESPONSIBILITY
Source: Washington’s Blog
We Can’t Just Look Forward … We Have to Admit What Went Wrong
Yesterday, a bi-partisan panel – co-chaired by the former undersecretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, former Republican congressman from Arkansas and NRA consultant (Asa Hutchinson) and former Democratic congressman and U.S. ambassador to Mexico (James Jones) – released a 577-page report on torture after 2 years of study.
Other luminaries on the panel include:
- Former FBI Director William Sessions
- 3-star general Claudia J. Kennedy
- Retired Brigadier General David Irvine
- Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations, and U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Thomas Pickering
The panel concluded:
- “Torture occurred in many instances and across a wide range of theaters”
- There is “no firm or persuasive evidence” that the use of such techniques yielded “significant information of value”
- “The nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture”
- “Publicly acknowledging this grave error, however belatedly, may mitigate some of those consequences and help undo some of the damage to our reputation at home and abroad”
The panel also found:
- The use of torture has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive”
- “As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture”
- The Obama administration’s keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public “cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security”, and it should stop blocking lawsuits by former detainees on the basis of claiming “state secrets”
- At a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, co-chair Hutchinson said:
We found that U.S. personnel, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaty obligations.
This conclusion is not based upon our own personal impressions, but rather is grounded in a thorough and detailed examination of what constitutes torture from a historical and legal context. We looked at court cases and determined that the treatment of detainees, in many instances, met the standards the courts have determined as constituting torture. But in addition, you look at the United States State Department, in its annual country reports on human rights practices, has characterized many of the techniques used against detainees in U.S. custody in the post-9/11 environment—the State Department has characterized the same treatment as torture, abuse or cruel treatment when those techniques were employed by foreign governments. The CIA recognized this in an internal review and acknowledged that many of the interrogation techniques it employed were inconsistent with the public policy positions the United States has taken regarding human rights. The United States is understandably subject to criticism when it criticizes another nation for engaging in torture and then justifies the same conduct under national security arguments.
There are those that defend the techniques of—like waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation, because there was the Office of Legal Counsel, which issued a decision approving of their use because they define them as not being torture. Those opinions have since been repudiated by legal experts and the OLC itself. And even in its opinion, it relied not only on a very narrow legal definition of torture, but also on factual representations about how the techniques would be implemented, that later proved inaccurate. This is important context as to how the opinion came about, but also as to how policy makers relied upon it.
Based upon a thorough review of the available public record, we determined that, in application, torture was used against detainees in many instances and across a wide range of theaters.
And while our report is critical of the approval of interrogation techniques that ultimately led to U.S. personnel engaging in torture of detainees, the investigation was not an undertaking of partisan fault finding. Our conclusions about responsibility should be taken very simply as an effort to understand what happened at many levels of the U.S. policy making. There is no way of knowing how the government would have responded if a Democrat administration were in power at the time of the attacks. Indeed, our report is equally critical of the rendition-to-torture program, which began under President Clinton. And we question several actions of the current administration, as well. It should be noted that many of the corrective actions that—were first undertaken during the Bush administration, as well.
But the task force did conclude that the nation’s highest officials, after the 9/11 attack, approved actions for CIA and Defense personnel based upon legal guidance that has since been repudiated. The most important decision may have been to declare the Geneva Convention did not apply to al-Qaeda and Taliban captives in Afghanistan or Guantánamo. The administration never specified what rules would apply instead. The task force believes that U.S. defense intelligence professionals and servicemembers in harm’s way need absolutely clear orders on the treatment of detainees, requiring at a minimum compliance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. This was not done. Civilian leaders and military commanders have an affirmative responsibility to assure that their subordinates comply with the laws of war. President Obama has committed to observe the Geneva Conventions through an executive order, but a future president could change it by the stroke of a pen.
The task force believes it is important to recognize that—that is—that to say torture is ineffective does not require a demonstration that it never works. A person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information. Nor does the fact that it may sometimes yield legitimate information justify its use. What values do America stand for? That’s the ultimate question. But in addition to the very real legal and moral objections to its use, torture often produces false information, and it is difficult and time-consuming for interrogators and analysts to distinguish what may be true and usable from that which is false and misleading. Also, conventional, lawful interrogation methods have proven to be successful whenever the United States uses them throughout history—and I have seen this in law enforcement, as well. We’ve seen no evidence in the public record that the traditional means of interrogation would not have yielded the necessary intelligence following the attacks of 9/11.
Retired Brigadier General David Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer and Army instructor in prisoner interrogation said:
Public record strongly suggests that there was no useful information gained from going to the dark side that saved the hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of lives that have been claimed. There are many instances in that public record to support the notion that we have been badly misled by false confessions that have been derived from brutal interrogations. And unfortunately, it is a fact that people—people will just say whatever they think needs to be said if the pain becomes more than they can bear. Other people are so immune to pain that they will die before they will reveal what an interrogator may wish to know.
I’ll just say, in conclusion, that in 2001 the United States had had a great deal of experience with tactical and strategic interrogations. We had been very successful over a long period of time in learning how to do this and do it very, very well. Unfortunately, when the policies were developed that led us to the dark side, many of those who were involved in formulating those policies had no experience with interrogation, had no experience with law enforcement, had no experience with the military, in how these matters are approached. One of the most successful FBI interrogators prior to 2001 was a guy named Joe Navarro. And Joe is noted for having said—and he was probably one of the handful of strategic interrogators qualified to interrogate and debrief a high-value al-Qaeda prisoner. But Joe said, “I only need three things. If you’ll give me three things, I will get whatever someone has to say, and I will do it without breaking the law. First of all, I need a quiet room. Second, I want to know what the rules are, because I don’t want to get in trouble. And third, I need enough time to become that person’s best and only friend. And if you give me those three conditions, I will get whatever that person has to say, and I will get it effectively and quickly and safely and within the terms of the law.” So, we can do it well when we want to. We need to do more, looking at our history, to remind us what worked and why it worked, and not resort to what may seem at the time to be expedient, clever or necessary.
Indeed, top American military and intelligence interrogation experts from both sides of the aisle have conclusively proven the following 10 facts about torture:
1. Torture is not a partisan issue
2. Waterboarding is torture
3. Torture decreases our national security
4. Torture can not break hardened terrorists
5. Torture is not necessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation
6. The specific type of torture used by the U.S. was never aimed at producing actionable intelligence … but was instead aimed at producing false confessions
7. Torture did not help to get Bin Laden
8. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11
9. Many innocent people were tortured
10. America still allows torture
READ / VIDEO @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/bipartisan-report-u-s-practiced-widespread-torture-torture-has-no-jusification-and-doesnt-yield-significant-information-nations-highest-officials-bear-responsibility.html
* GITMO IS KILLING ME
By Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, NYTimes
ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.
I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping. [...]
* AMERICA’S KILLING MACHINE
By Mark Mazzetti, The Economist
Targeted assassinations by drone has enjoyed rare bipartisan support in America. But the debate about how the country eliminates its foes is getting more heated
The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. By Mark Mazzetti. Penguin; 381 pages; $29.95. Buy from Amazon.com
IN SEPTEMBER 2011 a fleet of Predator and Reaper drones took off from a secret CIA base in the Saudi desert. They crossed into Yemen and began patiently tracking a convoy of vehicles that was travelling near the border with Saudi Arabia. America’s spy agency had earlier recruited a source within al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. He was now providing information about the movements of Anwar al-Awlaki, the group’s chief propagandist and strategist, and the man at the top of the CIA’s wanted list since the killing of Osama bin Laden a few months before.
The group had stopped for breakfast but, sensing the circling drones, they rushed back to the cars. Moments later, lasers from the Predators lit up the vehicles and the Reaper launched its missiles. Everyone was killed including al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, the editor of an online jihadist magazine. Both were Americans.
The targeted assassination of al-Awlaki, who had been behind a number of high-profile plots, from the Fort Hood shootings to the Christmas “underwear bomber” and an attempt to bring down cargo aircraft with exploding toner cartridges, created a minor stir among civil-liberties groups claiming that his citizenship entitled him to “due process”. But for most Americans it was further evidence that the secret war to protect them from their enemies was going pretty well. Drones had become the weapon of choice. To the surprise of some, a programme that had begun under George W. Bush had been dramatically ramped up by Barack Obama. The former Harvard student and Chicago law professor routinely approved what amounted to execution lists provided by John Brennan, his personal counter-terrorism adviser.
Mr Brennan, a former CIA analyst, is now back at the agency as its director. America’s drone campaign has become symbolic of a new kind of shadow war fought, as Mr Brennan has put it, with a “scalpel” rather than a “hammer”. It is the story of this war, waged in far-off lands by spies, special forces and robotised killing machines, that Mark Mazzetti, a Pulitzer-prizewinning New York Times reporter, tells with some verve and much new detail in “The Way of the Knife”. […]
* TALES OF REAGAN’S GUATEMALA GENOCIDE
Exclusive: Guatemala is finally putting ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt on trial for genocide in the extermination of hundreds of Mayan villages in the 1980s, but Ronald Reagan remains an American icon despite new evidence of his complicity in this historic crime, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry, Consortium News
The first month of the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt has elicited chilling testimony from Mayan survivors who – as children – watched their families slaughtered by a right-wing military that was supported and supplied by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
As the New York Times reported on Monday, “In the tortured logic of military planning documents conceived under Mr. Ríos Montt’s 17-month rule during 1982 and 1983, the entire Mayan Ixil population was a military target, children included. Officers wrote that the leftist guerrillas fighting the government had succeeded in indoctrinating the impoverished Ixils and reached ‘100 percent support.’”
So, everyone was targeted in these scorched-earth campaigns that eradicated more than 600 Indian villages in the Guatemalan highlands. But this genocide was not simply the result of a twisted anticommunist ideology that dominated the Guatemalan military and political elites. This genocide also was endorsed by the Reagan administration.
A document that I discovered recently in the archives of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, revealed that Reagan and his national security team in 1981 agreed to supply military aid to the brutal right-wing regime in Guatemala to pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but people associated with their “civilian support mechanisms.”
This supportive attitude toward the Guatemalan regime’s brutality took shape in spring 1981 as President Reagan sought to ease human-rights restrictions on military aid to Guatemala that had been imposed by President Jimmy Carter and the Democratic-controlled Congress in the late 1970s. […]