Welcome to the Fourth Reich

2005-01-04

Richard Moore

Friends,

Here's the summarizing sentence from the article below:

            The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide
            on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime
            detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military
            and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough
            evidence to charge in courts. 

In other words, concentration camps are to become ordinary and
routine, a permanent part of American life. One wonders if the
government has any evidence at all regarding its prisoners.
Given the current climate of fear in America, and all the
right-wing judge appointments, why would the government fear
prosecuting at least some of the prisoners? What court would
release them if there was even a shred of evidence they had
been involved in terrorism? Methinks that the excuse being
offered here is rather shallow, barely the size of a fig leaf.

The real issue is of course the trustworthiness of the
government. They are the ones to decide who is and isn't a
terrorist suspect, and whether or not there's enough evidence
to go to court. Ironically, the less evidence against you, the
more likely that you'll be a permanent detainee!  Perhaps the
smart people will go out and establish a rap sheet, so that
the government might be tempted to prosecute them and give
them a hearing.

As regards trustworthiness, one can only laugh. Consider the
record of this ruling regime. They've told us exactly what
their long-range plans are, just as Hitler did before them.
His Mein Kampf called for a super-power Reich, based on the
'Slavic hinterlands'; their PNAC agenda calls for a
super-power USA based on the entire globe. He boasted before
he became Chancellor that once he got in, there would be no
more elections in Germany; they have found their own path
(Diebold) to the same end. He cemented his program with the
Reichstag fire and demonized the Jews; they cemented their
program with 9/11 and demonize the Muslims. They, like him
before, launched into their pre-planned aggressive wars using
whatever lies or excuses seemed to be expedient at the time.

These are only a few of the parallels, some obvious
highlights. Taken altogether, it goes beyond mere parallelism.
One cannot help thinking that the specific Nazi blueprint is
being followed consciously. The grandson, in some sense,
continuing the mission of Grandpa Prescott Bush, eager
supporter of the Nazis, and employer of slave labor from
Auschwitz. But one should not over-personalize such things.
The real source of continuity is the American corporate elite,
directly descended as they are from those who financed and
armed the Nazis and then collaborated with them extensively
throughout the course of the war. That plus the CIA, which was
from the beginning dependent on the Nazi intelligence network
which stayed behind the Iron Curtain, operating still under a
German chain of command - and motivated to exaggerate the
"Soviet threat" through the ensuing decades (in collaboration
with Rumsfeld and Cheney, as we saw in the last posting).

If we can 'trust' the Rumsfeld-Cheney regime to do anything,
we can 'trust' it to continue down its fascist path. There
were several kinds of concentration camps under the Nazis.
Some, like Auschwitz, were slave labor camps. Krupp convinced
Hitler, after considerable argument, that it made more sense
to work the Jews to death than to simply gas them. These were
also death camps, as those who arrived unfit for work (such as
the elderly and children) were immediately gassed. Many of the
other concentration camps were simply places to store away
dissidents and troublemakers. These probably included Jews as
well, but the selection criteria had to do with political
attitudes, and led to the inclusion of socialists, communists,
labor leaders, etc. Many died in these kind of camps (or were
experimented upon), but they don't appear to have been 'death
camps' as such.

Some said that "It can never happen here" but they were wrong.
It is true that a gesticulating, hysterical Hitler-type leader
would not go over well with the American public, but there are
many ways to skin the same cat. We already have our slave
labor camps, only we put blacks and latinos into them instead
of Jews. The CIA supplies them with drugs, the police arrest
them for using or selling the drugs, and then corporations
exploit their slave labor. That's the American way, and
it's probably more profitable than the Nazi's approach. The
CIA pockets the drug profits, for a start.

Why should we assume that these legalized, institutionalized
concentration camps in the USA will have any purpose other
than to store away dissidents and troublemakers? So far, while
the torture camps have been operating on a temporary basis,
they've been inhabited almost exclusively by Muslims. Indeed,
that may be their only crime. By having a bunch of Muslims
behind bars, that provides some kind of "visible reality" to
the threat of terrorism. When you consider the great
propaganda victory it would be to have a show trial of a real
terrorist, you can only suspect that there aren't any real
terrorists at all. If there were even one, why don't they put
him on TV and rub the case in our faces, as with OJ?  What are
they waiting for?

In any case, during this experimental trial phase, the
prisoners are mostly Muslims and thus everyone goes along with
the fiction that they must therefore have some connection to
terrorism - i.e., it's not primarily a civil liberties issue.
If Guantanamo already held a bunch of white middle-class
protestors swept off the streets of New York or Boston, the
neocons would have a more difficult time with their current
project of "normalizing" the existence of concentration camps.

But once they're normalized, the whole context changes. Once
it's established for-keeps that "terrorist suspects" can be
locked away indefinitely with no recourse to hearing, then we
can expect the definition of "terrorist" to be rapidly
expanded. 

In the Patriot Act, and in the language of "anti-terrorist"
statutes around the world, the definition of "terrorist" is
already sufficiently broad to include almost anyone a
government might want to silence. If you forward an email
announcing a protest event, and later someone at the event
breaks a window, then you have "conspired" to support a
"terrorist activity". That may sound far-fetched, but that's
about the state of things as regards the written law -
throughout most of the West. We've already had a case where
some Indymedia servers were seized, my guess is as a test
precedent, and were then returned as mysteriously as they were
taken, with no account given and no charges filed. The message:
"Get used to it; there's nothing you can do about it."

With the legal language already in place, defining just about
anyone as a terrorist, and with fully legitimized
concentration camps, the next step will be to demonize
protestors. We've already had a foretaste, as far back as the
Seattle protests of 1999. All those images of police and
violent protestors - the feared "anarchists". We could expect
documentaries, revealing that protest leaders want to "smash
the system", "get rid of capitalism"...they're a bunch of
closet communists! I can see it now on Fox News. And then
there will be tours of websites, including ones the FBI has
covertly set up describing how to make dirty bombs, and others
that support "revolutionary programs", display "anti-American
propaganda", and call for protestors to "fill up the streets"
and "create havoc"

My scenario may be a bit simplistic, as I'm not a professional
propagandist. The point is that it would not be difficult to
make a case in the media that anti-establishment activists and
organizers generally present a "credible terrorist threat".
"Intelligence sources" could easily "reveal" that messages
have been "decrypted" that include plans to disrupt major
infrastructures. Of course no such evidence would ever be made
available, as "our sources must be protected." It would be
easy to create a climate in which any major protest event
could be followed by a sweep of the streets and there would be
hundreds of "disappeared", destined to fates similar to the
fates of Latin America's "disappeared". And of course there
would be a major shut-down of websites and discussion forums,
with selective but widespread seizures of servers.

you don't need a weather man to tell which way the wind blows,
rkm

--------------------------------------------------------
http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010305Y.shtml

 Long-Term Plan Sought for Terror Suspects
 By Dana Priest
 The Washington Post

 Sunday 02 January 2005

Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for
indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not
want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States
or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and
diplomatic officials.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide
on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime
detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military
and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough
evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which
also involves the State Department, would also affect those
expected to be captured in the course of future
counterterrorism operations.

"We've been operating in the moment because that's what has
been required," said a senior administration official involved
in the discussions, who said the current detention system has
strained relations between the United States and other
countries. "Now we can take a breath. We have the ability and
need to look at long-term solutions."

One proposal under review is the transfer of large numbers of
Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the military's
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built
prisons in their home countries. The prisons would be operated
by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea
originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights
standards and would monitor compliance, the senior
administration official said.

As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500
prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, plans to ask Congress for $25
million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are
unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of
evidence, according to defense officials.

The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would allow inmates more
comfort and freedom than they have now, and would be designed
for prisoners the government believes have no more
intelligence to share, the officials said. It would be modeled
on a U.S. prison and would allow socializing among inmates.

"Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes
sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term
problems," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. "This has
been evolutionary, but we are at a point in time where we have
to say, 'How do you deal with them in the long term?' "

The administration considers its toughest detention problem to
involve the prisoners held by the CIA. The CIA has been
scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations
abroad where it could detain and interrogate captives without
risk of discovery, and without having to give them access to
legal proceedings.

Little is known about the CIA's captives, the conditions under
which they are kept - or the procedures used to decide how
long they are held or when they may be freed. That has
prompted criticism from human rights groups, and from some in
Congress and the administration, who say the lack of scrutiny
or oversight creates an unacceptable risk of abuse.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the House
intelligence committee who has received classified briefings
on the CIA's detainees and interrogation methods, said that
given the long-term nature of the detention situation, "I
think there should be a public debate about whether the entire
system should be secret.

"The details about the system may need to remain secret,"
Harman said. At the least, she said, detainees should be
registered so that their treatment can be tracked and
monitored within the government. "This is complicated. We
don't want to set up a bureaucracy that ends up making it
impossible to protect sources and informants who operate
within the groups we want to penetrate."

The CIA is believed to be holding fewer than three dozen al
Qaeda leaders in prison. The agency holds most, if not all, of
the top captured al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheik
Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Abu Zubaida and the lead Southeast
Asia terrorist, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali.

CIA detention facilities have been located on an off-limits
corner of the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, on ships at sea
and on Britain's Diego Garcia island in the Indian Ocean. The
Washington Post reported last month that the CIA has also
maintained a facility within the Pentagon's Guantánamo Bay
complex, though it is unclear whether it is still in use.

In contrast to the CIA, the military produced and declassified
hundreds of pages of documents about its detention and
interrogation procedures after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
And the military detainees are guaranteed access to the
International Committee of the Red Cross and, as a result of a
U.S. Supreme Court ruling, have the right to challenge their
imprisonment in federal court.

But no public hearings in Congress have been held on CIA
detention practices, and congressional officials say CIA
briefings on the subject have been too superficial and were
limited to the chairman and vice chairman of the House and
Senate intelligence committees.

The CIA had floated a proposal to build an isolated prison
with the intent of keeping it secret, one intelligence
official said. That was dismissed immediately as impractical.

One approach used by the CIA has been to transfer captives it
picks up abroad to third countries willing to hold them
indefinitely and without public proceedings. The transfers,
called "renditions," depend on arrangements between the United
States and other countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and
Afghanistan, that agree to have local security services hold
certain terror suspects in their facilities for interrogation
by CIA and foreign liaison officers.

The practice has been criticized by civil liberties groups and
others, who point out that some of the countries have human
rights records that are criticized by the State Department in
annual reports.

Renditions originated in the 1990s as a way of picking up
criminals abroad, such as drug kingpins, and delivering them
to courts in the United States or other countries. Since 2001,
the practice has been used to make certain detainees do not go
to court or go back on the streets, officials said.

"The whole idea has become a corruption of renditions," said
one CIA officer who has been involved in the practice. "It's
not rendering to justice, it's kidnapping."

But top intelligence officials and other experts, including
former CIA director George J. Tenet in his testimony before
Congress, say renditions are an effective method of disrupting
terrorist cells and persuading detainees to reveal
information.

"Renditions are the most effective way to hold people," said
Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of
Terror." "The threat of sending someone to one of these
countries is very important. In Europe, the custodial
interrogations have yielded almost nothing" because they do
not use the threat of sending detainees to a country where
they are likely to be tortured.

 

_______________________________

  Behind the 'Torture Memos'
 By John Yoo
 The San Jose Mercury News

 Sunday 02 January 2005
As confirmation hearings near, lawyer defends wartime policy.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings
on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general.
It comes as no surprise that he is likely to face hard
questions.

As counsel to the president for the past four years, Gonzales
helped develop the United States' policies in the war on
terror. He demonstrated leadership and, as is often the case
in perilous times, generated controversy.

He will encounter questions about the decision to deny
prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Conventions to
Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters and about his role in what have
come to be known as "torture memos." As a Justice Department
lawyer, I dealt with both issues - I worked on and signed the
department's memo on the Geneva Conventions and helped draft
the main memo defining torture. I can explain why the
administration decided that aggressive measures, though
sometimes unpopular, are necessary to protect America from
another terrorist attack.

Sept. 11, 2001, proved that the war against Al-Qaida cannot be
won solely within the framework of the criminal law. The
attacks were more than crimes - they were acts of war.
Responding to the attacks and protecting the United States
from another requires a military approach to the conflict. But
Al-Qaida, without regular armed forces, territory or citizens
to defend, also presents unprecedented military challenges.

One of the first policy decisions in this new war concerned
the Geneva Conventions - four 1949 treaties ratified by the
United States that codify many of the rules for war. After
seeking the views of the Justice, State, and Defense
departments, Gonzales concluded in a draft January 2002 memo
to the president that Al-Qaida and the Taliban were not
legally entitled to POW status. He also advised that following
every provision of the conventions could hurt the United
States' ability to protect itself against ruthless enemies.

Gonzales' memo agreed with the Justice Department and
disagreed with the State Department, which felt the Taliban
(though not Al-Qaida) qualified as POWs.

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - where I
worked at the time - determined that the Geneva Conventions
legally do not apply to the war on terrorism because Al-Qaida
is not a nation-state and has not signed the treaties.
Al-Qaida members also do not qualify as legal combatants
because they hide among peaceful populations and launch
surprise attacks on civilians - violating the fundamental
principle that war is waged only against combatants.
Consistent American policy since at least the Reagan
administration has denied terrorists the legal privileges
reserved for regular armed forces.

The Taliban raised different questions because Afghanistan is
a party to the Geneva Conventions, and the Taliban arguably
operated as its de facto government. But the Justice
Department found that the president had reasonable grounds to
deny Taliban members POW status because they did not meet the
conventions' requirements that lawful combatants operate under
responsible command, wear distinctive insignia, and obey the
laws of war. The Taliban flagrantly violated those rules, at
times deliberately using civilians as human shields.

According to Gonzales' memo, the State Department argued that
denying POW status to the Taliban would damage U.S. standing
in the world and could undermine the standards of treatment
for captured American soldiers. Gonzales also passed on the
department's worry that denying POW status "could undermine
U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest
standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element
of uncertainty in the status of adversaries."

The press has consistently misrepresented Gonzales' views and
latched onto a sexy sound bite used out of context. When
Gonzales said in the memo that this new war made some
provisions of the Geneva Conventions "quaint," he referred to
the requirement that POWs be given commissary privileges,
monthly pay, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments.
Many stories cut the quotation short, making it seem as if he
had deemed the conventions themselves "quaint."

'Obsolete' Limitations

Gonzales' memo did, however, say that the terrorist threat
rendered "obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning
of enemy prisoners." Why? Because the United States needed to
be able "to quickly obtain information from captured
terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further
atrocities against American civilians." Information remains
the primary weapon to prevent a future Al-Qaida attack on the
United States.

Gonzales also observed that denying POW status would limit the
prosecution of U.S. officials under a federal law
criminalizing a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. He was
concerned that some of the conventions' terms were so vague
(prohibiting, for example, "outrages upon personal dignity")
that officials would be wary of taking actions necessary to
respond to unpredictable developments in this new war.

The president took Gonzales' advice and denied POW status to
suspected Al-Qaida and Taliban members.

Gonzales' advice raised legal and policy questions. Legally,
could the president determine by himself that Al-Qaida or the
Taliban were not entitled to POW status? No one doubted that
he had the constitutional authority. Presidents have long been
the primary interpreters of treaties on behalf of the United
States, especially in the area of warfare. Federal judges have
since split on the POW issue.

The other question was what standards the United States should
follow as a matter of policy if the Geneva Conventions did not
legally apply. Gonzales recommended that the United States
should continue "its commitment to treat the detainees
humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with
military necessity, in a manner consistent with the
principles" of the Geneva Conventions. Prisoners would receive
adequate food, housing and medical care, and could practice
their religion. Gonzales advised that as long as the president
ordered humane treatment, the military would follow his
orders.

Gonzales has also received criticism for a memo he requested
from the Justice Department to provide the legal definition of
torture. According to press reports, Gonzales made the request
after the CIA had captured high-level Al-Qaida leaders and
wanted clarification of the standards for interrogation under
U.S. law.

Congress' Role

While the definition of torture in the August 2002 memo is
narrow, that was Congress' choice. When the Senate approved
the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, it stated its
understanding of torture as an act "specifically intended to
inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." The
Senate defined mental pain and suffering as "prolonged mental
harm" caused by threats of severe physical harm or death to a
detainee or third person, the administration of mind-altering
drugs or other procedures "calculated to disrupt profoundly
the senses or the personality." Congress adopted this
definition in a 1994 law criminalizing torture committed
abroad.

The Senate also made clear that it believed the treaty's
requirement that nations undertake to prevent "cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment" was too vague. The
Senate declared its understanding that the United States would
follow only the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and
unusual punishment.

The Senate and Congress' decisions provided the basis for the
Justice Department's definition of torture:

"Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in
intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury,
such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even
death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to
torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant
psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for
months or even years. . . . We conclude that the statute,
taken as a whole, makes plain that it prohibits only extreme
acts."

Under this definition, interrogation methods that go beyond
polite questioning but fall short of torture could include
shouted questions, reduced sleep, stress positions (like
standing for long periods of time), and isolation from other
prisoners. The purpose of these techniques is not to inflict
pain or harm, but simply to disorient.

On Thursday, the Justice Department responded to criticism
from the summer, when the opinion leaked to the press. The
department issued a new memo that superseded the August 2002
memo. Among other things, the new memo withdrew the statement
that only pain equivalent to such harm as serious physical
injury or organ failure constitutes torture and said, instead,
that torture may consist of acts that fall short of provoking
excruciating and agonizing pain.

Although some have called this a repudiation, the Justice
Department's new opinion still generally relies on Congress'
restrictive reasoning on what constitutes torture. Among other
things, it reiterates that there is a difference between
"cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" and torture - a
distinction that many critics of the administration have
ignored or misunderstood.

For example, according to press reports, the International
Committee for the Red Cross has charged that interrogations at
Guantánamo Bay, which included solitary confinement and
exposing prisoners to temperature extremes and loud music,
were "tantamount to torture." This expands torture beyond the
United States' understanding when it ratified the U.N.
Convention Against Torture and enacted the 1994 statute. Not
only does the very text of the convention recognize the
difference between cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and
torture, but the United States clearly chose to criminalize
only torture.

Abu Ghurayb Abuses

Criticism of the Bush administration's legal approach to
interrogation first arose in the summer after the Abu Ghurayb
prison scandal, and has continued with more recent stories of
FBI memos showing concern about abuse of prisoners in Iraq and
Guantánamo Bay. No one condones the abuses witnessed in the
Abu Ghurayb photos that are being properly handled through the
military justice system. But those abuses had nothing to do
with the memos defining torture - which did not discuss the
pros and cons of any interrogation tactic - nor the decision
to deny POW protections to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Gonzales,
among others, has made clear that the administration never
ordered the torture of any prisoner. And as multiple
investigatory commissions have now found, these incidents did
not result from any official orders.

At the urging of human rights groups and other opponents of
the administration's policies in the war on terrorism, Senate
Democrats have promised to closely question Gonzales on these
issues. I believe the hearings will show that Gonzales, who
never sought to pressure or influence the Justice Department's
work, appropriately sought answers to ensure compliance with
the applicable law.

Asking those questions is important because we are in the
midst of an unconventional war. Our only means for preventing
future terrorist attacks, which could someday involve weapons
of mass destruction, is to rely on intelligence that permits
pre-emptive action. An American leader would be derelict if he
did not seek to understand all available options in such
perilous circumstances.

John Yoo is a law professor at the University of
California-Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute. He served as deputy assistant attorney
general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice
Department from 2001 to '03. He wrote this article for
Perspective.

© Copyright 2005 by TruthOut.org
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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE IT ", current draft:
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