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09
Mayo

With only nine months to go, in the fashion of modern presidents, Barack Obama is already planning his post-presidential library, museum, and foundation complex.  Such institutions only seem to grow more opulent and imperial as the years and administrations pass.  Obama’s will reportedly leave the $300 million raised for George W. Bush’s version of the same in the dust.  The aim is to create at least an $800 million and possibly billion-dollar institution.  With his post-Oval Office future already in view and his presidency nearly history, his “legacy” has clearly been on his mind of late. And when it comes to foreign policy, he definitely has some accomplishments to brag about.  The two most obvious are the Iran nuclear deal and the opening to Cuba.  In their own ways, both could prove game changers, breaking with venomous relations that lasted, in the case of Iran, for more than three and a half decades, and in the case of Cuba, for more than half a century.

You can already imagine the exhibits celebrating them at the Barack Obama Presidential Center to be built on the south side of Chicago.  But it's hard not to wonder how that institution will handle the three major foreign policy promises the new president made in the distant days of 2008-2009.  After all, he was, in part, swept into the presidency on a blunt promise to end George W. Bush’s catastrophic war in Iraq.  (“So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on Day One: I will end this war.”)  Nine years later, he’s once again taken this country into the Big Muddy of an Iraq War, either the third or fourth of them in the last five presidencies (depending on whether you count the Reagan administration support for Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran in the 1980s).  At this moment, having just dispatched B-52s, the classic Vietnam-era carpet-bombing plane of choice (Ted Cruz must be thrilled!) to Qatar as part of that war effort, and being on a mission-creep path ever deeper into what can only be called the Iraq quagmire, we're likely to be talking about a future museum exhibit from hell.

But it won’t begin to match the special exhibit that will someday undoubtedly explore the president’s heartfelt promise to work to severely curtail the American and global nuclear arsenals and put the planet on a path to -- a word that had never previously hovered anywhere near the Oval Office -- nuclear abolition.  The president’s disarmament ambitions were, in fact, significantly responsible for his 2009 Nobel Prize, an honor that almost uniquely preceded any accomplishments.  Now, the same man is presiding over a planned three-decade, trillion-dollar renovation and modernization of that same arsenal, including the development of an initial generation of “smart” nukes, potentially first-use weapons.  It’s certainly been a unique path for our first outright anti-nuclear president to take and deserves a special place of (dis)honor at the future Obama center.

Barring surprising developments in the coming months, however, no exhibit is likely to be more striking or convoluted than the one that will have to be dedicated to the "closing" of Guantánamo, the notorious offshore, Bush-era prison camp.  After all, as TomDispatch regular Karen Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, a striking soon-to-be-published anatomy of post-9/11 national security state mania, points out today, the closing of Guantánamo within a year represented one of the president’s first promises on entering the Oval Office.  Unless somehow he succeeds in shutting Gitmo down over fierce Republican congressional opposition in these final months, it could prove the pièce de résistance of his future museum. Tom

 

Still in the Bush Embrace

 

What Really Stands in the Way of Closing Guantánamo

 

By Karen J. Greenberg

 

Can you believe it?  We’re in the last year of the presidency of the man who, on his first day in the Oval Office, swore that he would close Guantánamo, and yet it and everything it represents remains part of our all-American world. So many years later, you can still read news reports on the ongoing nightmares of that grim prison, ranging from detention without charge to hunger strikes and force feeding. Its name still echoes through the halls of Congress in bitter debate over what should or shouldn’t be done with it. It remains a global symbol of the worst America has to offer.

In case, despite the odds, it should be closed in this presidency, Donald Trump has already sworn to reopen it and “load it up with bad dudes,” while Ted Cruz has warned against returning the naval base on which it’s located to the Cubans.  In short, that prison continues to haunt us like an evil spirit.  While President Obama remains intent on closing it, he continues to make the most modest and belated headway in reducing its prisoner population, while a Republican Congress remains no less determined to keep it open. With nine months left until a new president is inaugurated, the question is: Can this country’s signature War on Terror prison ever be closed?

 

The “Forever Detainees”

 

Here then is a little dismal history of a place most Americans would prefer not even to think about.

In January 2002, President George W. Bush opened the Guantánamo Bay Detention facility.  It was to hold, in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s phrase, the “worst of the worst” in the War on Terror. Over time, its population rose to nearly 800 prisoners from 44 countries, some captured in Afghanistan, some traded for bounty payments by vindictive neighbors or hostile tribesmen, and some seized by CIA operatives in countries far from Taliban territory. The prison then held more al-Qaeda and Taliban followers than leaders, but many prisoners were neither: they had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Recognizing this, within a few years the Bush administration sent more than 500 of the detainees back to their countries of origin or to other countries willing to accept them.

Then, in 2006, Bush made the lie of Guantánamo a reality. His administration finally transferred “the worst of the worst” to the by-then-notorious island prison. Those 16 individuals included five who stood accused of participating in the 9/11 conspiracy, and others who were believed responsible for devastatingly lethal attacks against American targets in the 1990s, including the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000. All had been held for years in CIA custody in “black sites” in countries around the world. All had been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which was, of course, the administration's (and, in those years, the media's) euphemism for some of the oldest torture practices known.

That move would prove a game changer. Instead of Guantánamo’s population shrinking into irrelevance and dwindling into obscurity, as it should have, the prison for the first time became exactly what Rumsfeld had promised it would be: a place for the most notorious al-Qaeda “high value detainees” (HVDs) that the U.S. held. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “mastermind” of 9/11, and four others allegedly involved in planning or carrying out the attacks on New York and Washington were among them.

That same fall, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act aimed at assuring that Guantánamo would be a site not only for offshore detention, but for offshore justice as well.  At some future point, Mohammed and the others were to be tried by the U.S. military in Cuba, not in American civilian courts in the U.S. For the first time, the military commissions, like the high value detainees, seemed to give Guantánamo definition (other than simply as a site of abuse, mistreatment, and injustice) and the possibility, in the context of the war on terror, of forward momentum. Those not released could now be tried. And yet by the end of the Bush years, only three prisoners, none of them HVDs, had been successfully convicted -- fewer, in other words, than the five who died in custody there in those years.

That should have been revealing enough for conclusions to be drawn.  It turned out that even a secretive, militarized, legally compromised system of “justice” couldn’t successfully bring to trial individuals involved in the crime that launched the new century, when the major evidence against them often came from brutal forms of torture. As a result, most of the Guantánamo detainees had settled into a familiar state of limbo by the time Barack Obama took office in January 2009.  At the time, 242 detainees were still in custody there and those military trials were going nowhere fast.  The new president arrived on a white horse, full of promises about ending the stasis at Guantánamo and ready to make sense of things. He promptly promised to close the prison for good and suspended the military commissions.

That left the problem of somehow resolving the unsettled status of the various detainees then in custody at Gitmo, individuals who essentially fell into three categories: those deemed not to pose a danger to the U.S. who were to be released; those considered too dangerous for release but -- thanks to tortured testimony -- not prosecutable even in military courts and were to be kept in indefinite detention (a group Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg aptly termed “forever prisoners”); and those who would someday be tried by some version of the suspended military commissions.

By the summer of his first year in office, Obama had announced that he would accept the distinctly un-American reality of indefinite detention and the military commissions as well, although in a new form still to be legislated by Congress. From then on, his presidency would remain eerily locked in the embrace of the Bush administration on Guantánamo and, promises or no, one thing was quickly clear: the president was not about to go out on a limb for the Gitmo detainees; he had other things to tend to (like a health-care proposal). Meanwhile, a task force appointed by the president determined that 48 detainees should indeed be kept in indefinite detention, 36 prosecuted, and the rest released via transfers to other countries.

 

Shrinking Gitmo

 

Given his promises, it was not exactly a record to feel proud of, but in his seven years in office, President Obama has at least made some headway in terms of the sheer size of the Gitmo population. Admittedly, the pace of releases has been abysmally slow.  Dozens of prisoners have been declared no longer dangerous and yet left to languish in their cells. Meanwhile, diplomatic negotiations for their resettlement in countries neither so fragile that terrorism is a daily reality, nor likely to abuse them further dragged on (while congressional Republicans continue to fight on tooth and nail to keep them in place). Still, today there are “only” 80 remaining detainees, a third of the population in January 2009. Twenty-six of those have been cleared for release but are still awaiting transfer years later, while 44 continue to be held without charges in indefinite detention. Nine face actual charges before the military commissions.

Whatever the reduction in numbers, however, the camp stands essentially as it did under Bush, a monument to bad memories. It still has dozens of individuals locked away in a grim state of hopelessness, some cleared for release but doubting their transfers will ever occur, others having given up entirely and on hunger strikes -- essentially trying to commit suicide.

Theoretically, the pace of resettlement for those already cleared for release could be speeded up and the Periodic Review Board, charged with deciding if an individual no longer poses a danger to this country, could meet more frequently to agree on releases among the relatively small number of detainees whose futures are still undetermined.  Were that to happen (and it might), within months the population of Gitmo could be reduced to a relatively few detainees.

It’s worth noting that U.S. taxpayers continue to ante up a pretty penny to maintain Gitmo and its shrinking group of inmates in its present state.  The cost to keep a detainee there in 2015 is estimated at between $3.7 million and $4.2 million a year. Were that population to be reduced significantly, those millions of dollars per detainee would only skyrocket up. The smaller the number remaining there and the higher the cost per head, the more likely that even a reluctant Congress might eventually agree to move them to the U.S., although “closing Guantánamo” will then mean bringing Gitmo practices -- indefinite detention without charges, the most fundamental violation of due process imaginable -- to the mainland.

 

Regressive Justice

 

That would leave one thing and one thing alone standing in the way of Guantánamo’s official end: the military commissions, and that would indeed be ironic.  After all, unlike indefinite detention or torture, those commissions are a recognizable, if flawed, part of the American legal tradition, used during both the Civil War and the Second World War.

They have been marked by failure from the outset. The commissions were not initially on the minds of the Bush administration lawyers and officials who organized the war on terror, set up that Cuban outpost, and enhanced those classic torture “techniques.” In fact, offshore detention was meant to skirt the U.S. justice system almost entirely and get information from the captured men by any means necessary. The goal was clear enough: to fill in for the unfortunate lack of knowledge American intelligence services had about Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network, their hideouts and training camps.

To give themselves leeway in terms of prisoner interrogation and treatment, the administration refused to consider those held there as prisoners of war (POWs), for fear that methods of interrogation would be restricted by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, they coined a term, “enemy combatants,” to create a category beyond the bounds of legality. To this day, U.S. officials speak of the remaining detainees at Gitmo as neither “prisoners” nor POWs.

Soon after the prison was set up, the Bush administration referred 24 of those “enemy combatants” to an ad hoc process which they began to call “military commissions” -- until, in June 2006, the Supreme Court declared them invalid unless authorized by Congress (which then dutifully and hastily passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006).

All these years later, only eight prisoners have been convicted under the commissions that were suspended and then revived by Obama.  Three of them, convicted before he took office, have since had their charges vacated or overturned.  Put another way, you could say that the commissions are regressing in their goal to clear Gitmo’s cases.  Once able to claim eight convictions, they can now count only five, and in the months to come, depending on a future decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, that number may be reduced further.  In sum, the commissions have shown not the slightest progress when it comes to the mission of closing Gitmo.

There are, of course, federal courts in the U.S. with much experience in trying terror cases and a 100% conviction rate when it comes to major ones.  To give Obama administration officials some credit, they did initially want to dump the military commissions for trials on the mainland and even moved one high value detainee, Ahmed Ghailani, to the federal courthouse in New York City. While his trial did result in a jury conviction on a single charge and a sentence of life without parole, the trial itself was seen by those who prefer to keep Gitmo open as proof that terrorists do stand a chance of going free in federal courts. Much of the evidence against Ghailani, tainted by torture, was excluded from the trial. While the jury knew neither about his torture nor the fact that he had been held at Guantánamo, Ghailani was acquitted on 283 of 284 counts. In a situation in which the phrase “courage of your convictions” would never be brought to bear, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder backed down amid a torrent of criticism, and the military commissions continued at Guantánamo.

And yet for anyone hoping to see that prison closed in our lifetimes, sooner or later the idea of transferring those formally charged with terrorism to the federal courts will have to be revived. The place of choice, were this to happen, should probably be a courthouse relatively close to the White House: the Eastern District Court of Virginia (EDVA). It has, since 9/11, overseen a variety of high-profile terror cases, including those of Zacarias Moussaoui, John Walker Lindh, and Abu Ali.

It is also an inside-the-Beltway courthouse; its judges and prosecutors are familiar with using intelligence-related classified information. It is near the Department of Justice and can call on the expertise of officials at the FBI, CIA, and elsewhere who have been working on these cases for years. Finally, it has earned a reputation as the “rocket docket,” a fast-paced venue that tries such cases with speed -- and given how long these trials have been postponed, speed is an important consideration.

 

Closing Gitmo?

 

There are a variety of ways that the EDVA could receive cases from the military commissions, ranging from a presidential act in defiance of a Congressional ban on transferring any Gitmo prisoners to the U.S. to actual congressional authorization. There is, however, one man who could make all of this far more likely and that’s Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor of the Office of Military Commissions since 2011.  With soldierly loyalty, a sharp legal mind, and a charismatic public demeanor, Martins has for six long years defended the ability of the Guantánamo commissions to succeed as constitutionally and legally valid courts with built-in protections and procedures that approach those of federal criminal courts. He has the power to declare the commissions no longer viable, leaving the administration with little choice but to close them. Were he to do so, it would be a game-changer.

A former adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan and co-chair of the task force that revived the commissions after Obama came into office, he has suffered one setback after another. In these years, he has been blindsided by the CIA’s attempts to spy on the commission’s Gitmo courtroom, as well as on the rooms where attorneys meet the defendants they represent.  He’s been stopped in his tracks by federal courts that declared the main charges against the detainees he was trying “unlawful”; embarrassed by the mysterious transfer of defense counsel materials to the prosecution’s computers; and humiliated, month after month, by the failure to deliver on the promise he made that the commission’s procedures in their “fundamental guarantees of a fair and just trial” would be “comparable to trials in federal courts." Those procedures have instead proven to be a farce.

Were General Martins to finally accept the reality of Gitmo -- that, given its history, nothing there can truly resemble justice -- he might be able to lead even a recalcitrant Republican Congress, the administration in its last days, and the American public to the only realistic conclusion: that the military commissions will never work and it’s finally time to shut Gitmo down. After all, it is hard to imagine any system that would do worse than the one that, for a decade, has failed even to begin the trials of the men charged as perpetrators of 9/11.

Those attacks left an open wound that will not heal, not without actual justice. For the sake of the victims’ families, for the ability of the country to move on, for the very confidence of the nation in its judicial system, those defendants need to be tried and Guantánamo has proven itself incapable of doing so.

Still, all of us have to face another possibility: that the prison will not be closed in what’s left of the Obama years or in the presidency to follow; that this country will instead be left in the twilight zone of Gitmo and in a world where its values are the ones eternally associated with America; and that we will continue to be known as a nation willing to avoid justice, if not deny it outright. Even at this late date, closing Gitmo and moving the military commission trials back to federal court would help heal the wound that the war on terror inflicted on the country’s deepest identity -- as a nation of justice for all.

Karen J. Greenberg, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and author of The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First 100 Days. Her latest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State (Crown Publishers), will be published in May. Andrew Dalack, a research fellow at the Center on National Security, helped with this article.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

08
Mayo

To most Americans, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany slips by unnoticed. To Pavel Elfimov, it’s among the biggest holidays of the year.

Ask any Russian about their family’s World War II experiences and the answer, almost invariably, is one of suffering and battlefield service. Unlike the United States, which had two oceans that largely insulated it from attack after Pearl Harbor, Russia was besieged, bombed, invaded and re-invaded during World War II. Then the Red Army swept toward Berlin and played a key role in toppling Adolf Hitler.

“You have Thanksgiving. We have Victory Day,” said Elfimov, 44, who came with his family this week to a nighttime rehearsal for Moscow’s annual Victory Day Parade. The procession is a bristling display of military might that sweeps down some of the capital’s most exclusive streets before rolling through Red Square in front of the Kremlin elite.

Russian President Vladimir Putin revived the Soviet-style tank parade in 2008, seeing the day as a way to rally citizens around the flag. But despite the hundreds of missile launchers, warplanes and antiaircraft guns that roll through Red Square every year, many Russians say that the true meaning of the holiday is more personal, 71 years after the end of the war.

“In Russia there are very few families who weren’t touched by it,” said Elfimov, who added that both of his grandfathers fought in the war and that one of them died shortly afterward, his resilience destroyed by combat.

Of more than two dozen people approached at the rehearsal, all had a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who fought in the war. Most said at least one direct ancestor died in the fighting. Soviet losses were immense — most historians estimate the Soviet death toll between 27 million and 28 million people — and the oldest generation of Russians still has aching memories of wartime starvation.

“It was impossible,” said Irina Kravchenko, 60, who said that 300 of the 500 people living in her small town in the Ural Mountains at the time of the war headed off to combat. Her grandfather never came home from the fighting, she said, a memory she wanted to make sure she passed down to her grandchild, who along with her daughter-in-law was watching soldiers on antiaircraft missile systems prepare for the parade.

“The memory of service was so tough. There was an inner strength,” Kravchenko said about the townspeople who returned from war. “They didn’t like to talk about their experiences.”

World War II tends to be remembered in the United States as a victory by Americans, with the Red Army acting more or less as an adjunct. Russian memories are focused on their own sacrifices. As the veterans have died, their children and grandchildren have started to march on Victory Day, holding their photos, separately from the martial parades. That started as a nonpolitical movement in 2012, and has since been embraced by the Kremlin.

26
Mayo

Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington.

In the Cold War climate of the 1960s and ’70s, when U.S. leaders and Latin American militaries regarded popular movements and political dissidents as “internal enemies,” any methods were considered legitimate in the “war against subversion.” In fact, many of these new social movements were indigenous nationalist, leftist, socialist, or radically democratic forces fighting to represent the voiceless and the marginalized.

As leftist and nationalist leaders won elections throughout Latin America in the 1960s and early 1970s, and new revolutionary and progressive movements gained strength, U.S. security strategists feared a communist-inspired threat to U.S. economic and political interests in the hemisphere. Local elites similarly feared that their traditional political dominance and wealth were at risk. Washington poured enormous resources into the inter-American security system, of which Condor was a top-secret part, to mobilize and unify the militaries in order to prevent leftist leaders from taking power and to control and destroy leftist and popular movements in Latin America. Anticommunism and “preventing another Cuba” were the national security priorities of the U.S. in Latin America.

The reigning national security doctrine incorporated counterinsurgency strategies and concepts such as “hunter-killer” programs and secret, “unconventional” techniques such as subversion, sabotage, and terrorism to defeat foes. Much of counterinsurgency doctrine is classified, but scholars have documented many of its key components. Michael McClintock, for example, analyzed a classified U.S. Army Special Forces manual of December 1960 Counter-Insurgency Operations, one of the earliest to mention explicitly, in its section "Terror Operations," the use of counterinsurgent terror as a legitimate tactic. He cites other secret U.S. army special operations handbooks from the 1960s that endorsed "counterterror," including assassination and abduction, in certain situations. One March 1961 article in Military Review stated, "Political warfare, in short, is warfare. . .[that] embraces diverse forms of coercion and violence including strikes and riots, economic sanctions, subsidies for guerrilla or proxy warfare and, when necessary, kidnapping or assassination of enemy elites.” In short, “disappearance” was a key element of counterinsurgency doctrine.

Operation Condor was a multinational system to specifically target exiles who had escaped the wave of military coups and dictatorships in their own countries. Thousands of Argentines, Uruguayans, and Brazilians fled to Chile in the early 1970s when the progressive Unidad Popular government was in power. After the September 1973 CIA-backed coup against President Salvador Allende, thousands escaped to Argentina. Operation Condor focused on these people — many of whom were under United Nations protection — using covert, cross-border abduction-disappearance, “rendition” to other countries, torture, and extrajudicial execution.

Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships, as well as guerrillas or armed insurgents (all of whom were entitled to due process and freedom from torture). Exiles were considered dangerous enemies by the regimes because of their powerful influence in the developing global human rights movement. The Chilean exiles, for instance — some 200,000 Chileans were forced out of the country in the first years after the coup — were pioneers in organizing solidarity and anti-dictatorship groups worldwide, providing information to the U.N. and human rights groups, and transmitting through their music and art the hopes and promise of the Unidad Popular.

Under a top-secret agreement known as “Phase III” Condor also assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, key political opposition leaders exiled in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Special teams of assassins from member countries were formed to travel worldwide to eliminate “subversive enemies”— political leaders who could organize and lead pro-democracy movements against the military regimes. One Condor assassination targeted former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, a prominent critic of the Pinochet regime. He and his U.S. colleague Ronni Moffitt were murdered in a 1976 car bombing in Washington, D.C. Other targets included constitutionalist Chilean general Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, assassinated in Buenos Aires (1974), and two Uruguayan legislators and opponents of the Uruguayan military regime, Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, disappeared, tortured, and killed in Buenos Aires (1976). Washington and its Latin American allies feared elected leftist leaders as much, if not more, than revolutionary guerrillas in the region, as the plots against Presidents Goulart of Brazil and Allende, among others, demonstrated.

In 1973 or early 1974, before the Condor apparatus acquired its code name and formal structure, the counterinsurgents created the prototype of Condor. A February 1974 meeting took place in Buenos Aires to plan deeper collaboration of the police of six South American states. Between 1973 and 1975 cross-border disappearances and forcible, extralegal transfers of exiles (“renditions”) by multinational Condor squadrons intensified under an unwritten agreement enabling the associated militaries to pursue individuals who had fled to neighboring countries. This was the essence of Condor, as yet unnamed.

Chilean colonel Manuel Contreras, head of the fearsome Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), was a key Condor organizer. He called for a founding meeting in Santiago to institutionalize the Condor prototype in 1975. In 2000, the CIA acknowledged that Contreras had been paid by the CIA between 1974 and 1977, a period when the Condor network was planning and carrying out assassinations in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

In 1974 a Uruguayan abduction-disappearance squadron took up residence in Buenos Aires and worked with its Argentine and Chilean counterparts to “disappear,” torture, interrogate, and illegally transfer exiles. Selected Uruguayan navy units began to coordinate secret repressive actions with personnel from the notorious Argentine Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) in 1974, and an ESMA delegation traveled to Uruguay that year to train officers in torture techniques in counterinsurgency courses. In an emblematic case, Uruguayan exile Antonio Viana was kidnapped from his home in Buenos Aires by a joint Argentine-Uruguayan squad, taken to the federal police headquarters, and tortured by Uruguayan officers he recognized. Viana soon realized that the squad included officers from the Argentine Federal Police and the Uruguayan Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Antisubversivas (OCOA) and Dirección Nacional de Información e Inteligencia (DNII). In the Argentine federal police headquarters, La Superintendencia de Seguridad Federal, Viana was tortured both physically and psychologically. Viana testified that his torturers and interrogators included Argentine police officers Miguel Angel Iñiguiz and Alberto Villar and Uruguayans Carlos Calcagno, José Gavazzo, Hugo Campos Hermida, Jorge Silveira, and Víctor Castiglioni, names that are infamous in Uruguay. Viana's case is one of many confirming that Condor was operative long before its official founding meeting in November 1975, thus highlighting the importance of the February 1974 meeting in Buenos Aires. Viana was transported back to Uruguay where he remained “disappeared” for years (he survived).

Documents discovered in Argentina show that the Chilean DINA and Argentine intelligence agencies were working together in 1974 to abduct members of the Chilean Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) and the so-called OPR-33 of Uruguay in Argentina. Condor officers in Argentina used an abandoned auto repair shop, Orletti Motors — code-named OT [Operaciones Tácticas] 18 — as a secret torture and detention center for foreign detainees. Survivors reported seeing Bolivians, Chileans, Uruguayans, as well as two young security guards from the Cuban embassy in Argentina, imprisoned and tortured there. Most were killed.

Recent testimonies, such as that of Brazilian coronel Paulo Malhaes, who appeared before Brazil’s Comisión de la Verdad, provided confirmation of joint covert operations by Brazil’s Centro de Informaciones del Ejército and Argentine Batallón 601 de Inteligencia de Campo de Mayo against Argentines who were in Rio. Malhaes confessed to following and “disappearing” many Argentines, some who were protected by the U.N. and others who were members of the Montoneros. Malhaes died of a heart attack in 2014 after three men broke into his house and held him hostage for ten hours, ransacking the place and taking files and weapons.

Condor, “officially” institutionalized in November 1975, filled a crucial function in the inter-American counterinsurgency regime. While the militaries carried out massive repression within their own countries, the transnational Condor system silenced individuals and groups that had escaped the dictatorships to prevent them from organizing politically or influencing public opinion. The anticommunist mission, of which Condor was a part, ultimately crushed democratic as well as radical movements and individuals. Condor was not solely a Latin American (or Chilean) initiative; nor was it a simple instrument of Washington. Condor was secret component of the continental counterinsurgency regime. The militaries’ use of “disappearance” was central for carrying out covert counterinsurgency wars, provoking terror, and at the same time providing plausible deniability — the ability to camouflage links to the state and create impunity.

 

Justice is still pending for many crimes committed under the Condor system.

 

J. Patrice McSherry is author of Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America (2005) and many other works on Operation Condor.

26
Mayo

The US led war against the Islamic State is a big lie.

Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists.

The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel.

The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism”

The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June.

The Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been -from a military standpoint- a rapid and expedient surgical operation

In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie. Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.

It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of the Western media which has upheld Obama’s initiative as a counter-terrorism operation.

 

THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF AL QAEDA

 

1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a century since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war.

2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan. In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.”

3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.

Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades. It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.

4. Jihadist textbooks were published by the University of Nebraska. “. “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings”

5. Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

 

THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIL)

 

6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسةالاستخباراتالعامة‎).

7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of Bashar al Assad.

8. NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

9.There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.

10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

11. The ISIL’s practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

12. Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades.

netanyahu-con-mercenario13. Israel has supported the ISIL and Al Nusrah brigades out of the Golan Heights.

Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See image below:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″

 

SYRIA AND IRAQ

 

14 The ISIL are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.

3mccainidriss15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria.

16 The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US. Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.

17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.

18. The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.

 

THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM (GWOT)

 

19. “The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

20 U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.

America’s “War on Terrorism” By Mchel Chossudovsky

These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc, create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.

21 Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia, among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.

Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US) is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China. (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).

 

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

 

23 The Terrorists R Us: While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State, Obama’s holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.

24 The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication. It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of “Islamic terrorists” sustain the legitimacy of America’s Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.

The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.

25. The “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly associated with the jihadists.

26 Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.

The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.

The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council. The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.

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