Eggs Benedict

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David Miliband’s statement
Miliband’s apology over ‘rendition’
Miliband admits US rendition flights stopped on UK soil

UK apology over rendition flights
Government admission on rendition a ‘huge embarrassment’, say critics

In full: CIA statement on renditions
Political fall-out from rendition

Extraordinary admissions
Embarrassed Miliband admits two US rendition flights refuelled on British soil
Official apology after CIA ‘torture’ jets used UK base

The British Government announced today that the United States recently provided information on rendition flights through Diego Garcia-a UK territory in the Indian Ocean-that contradicted earlier data from us.

Our government had told the British that there had been no rendition flights involving their soil or airspace since 9/11. That information, supplied in good faith, turned out to be wrong.

In fact, on two different occasions in 2002, an American plane with a detainee aboard stopped briefly in Diego Garcia for refuelling.

Neither of those individuals was ever part of CIA’s high-value terrorist interrogation program. One was ultimately transferred to Guantanamo, and the other was returned to his home country.

These were rendition operations, nothing more. There has been speculation in the press over the years that CIA had a holding facility on Diego Garcia. That is false. There have also been allegations that we transport detainees for the purpose of torture. That, too, is false.

Torture is against our laws and our values. And, given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence.

In late 2007, CIA itself took a fresh look at records on rendition flights. This time, the examination revealed the two stops in Diego Garcia.

The refuelling, conducted more than five years ago, lasted just a short time. But it happened. That we found this mistake ourselves, and that we brought it to the attention of the British Government, in no way changes or excuses the reality that we were in the wrong.

An important part of intelligence work, inherently urgent, complex, and uncertain, is to take responsibility for errors and to learn from them. In this case, the result of a flawed records search, we have done so.

The CIA employs Woody Allen to write statement on rendition. Turns out he’s got heartburn.

J.K.


Atrocious Episode

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British soldiers executed up to 20 Iraqi detainees, say witnesses
British soldiers accused of executing civilians
‘I heard the terrible sound of someone being choked’
Claim UK troops ‘executed’ Iraqis

Mr Abdelreza’s statement said: “I believed people were being killed. I have never heard anything like that sound ever before in my life.

“It shocked me and filled me with such terror.”

The lawyers say the five witnesses are labourers from Majar al-Kabir with “absolutely nothing” to do with the insurgent Mehdi army, who engaged British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy.

Showing images of corpses from the battle, Mr Day said: “The nature of a number of the injuries of the Iraqis would seem to us to be highly unusual in a battlefield.

“For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, how did one have his penis cut off [and] some have torture wounds?”

“There is the clearest evidence available of systematic abuse and systematic failings at the very highest levels of politicians, the civil service and the military,” said Mr Shiner.

Mr Day was previously involved in legal action launched against the MoD over allegations by more than 200 Masai women in Kenya that they were raped by British soldiers in the 1970s.

What a wonderful world.

J.K.


Prescriptive Versus Descriptive

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‘9/11 ripped the bandage off US culture’

As a work of cultural criticism, The Terror Dream is comprehensively shocking. But didn’t the extreme disconnection between reporting and reality that it exposed present the author with a problem? If the country’s cultural narrative was driven more by fiction than fact, and failed to reflect the truth of post-9/11 America, why base a whole book upon such spurious material?

“Because we live in a culture that’s so . . . you can’t . . .” She casts a hand around the hotel bar helplessly. “I mean, this is sort of miraculous, to be sitting in a room where there’s not some massive flat-screen TV yelling at us. It’s almost a sci-fi feeling, this kind of constant bombardment of programmed thought.” Its effect is not as simple, she stresses, as “monkey see, monkey do”. “But it certainly has a warping effect on how we think about the world, and how we think about ourselves.” Journalism became not descriptive but prescriptive – “and that had an enormous effect on our political life, our policy, our nightmarish policy, our misbegotten military strategy”.

This echoes my (not very original) view of modern mass (largely American) media as prescriptive and ideologically committed; the news has evolved to be less the recounting (mirror) of events couched in narrative form, and more a tableau where the details are exaggerated at the behest of some dark aesthetic. Still a mirror, but now reflecting the prejudices of it’s creator rather than that which it claims to represent.

In one respect, she concedes, cultural criticism today is less relevant than it used to be. “The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.” But on the other hand, “I think a reason that a lot of people feel politically paralysed is that it used to be clear how power was organised. But those who have their hands on the levers of popular culture today have great power – and it isn’t even clear who they are.” They may be commercially accountable, in other words, but not democratically.

In my youth I would often contemplate the highly accelerated nature of mass media, and it’s effects on culture. It was it’s instantaneous nature that occupied me the most. A good analogy for me was how, in bygone days of yore, the passage of time was a function of the sunrise and sunset. These days we measure the same phenomenon (illumination) through the flick of a switch.

Analogous to this, the instantaneous nature of media and popular culture lends authenticity to the mediated as immediate, and as a consequence we are prone to mistake the mediated for the truth.

J.K.


Middle East Envoy

J.K.


Yo Blair 2, Electric Boogaloo

J.K.


By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down

Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

J.K.


Out of the barrel of a gun…

J.K.


Go Home!

Exiled islanders win 40-year battle to return home as judges accuse UK of abuse of power

J.K.


Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle…

Tied up, blindfolded, waiting to die: the truth about the hostages’ ordeal
Mystery shrouds UK sailors’ saga
CIA tortured me, says Iran envoy
Tehran accuses MoD of dictating sailors’ testimony
Someone said, ‘Lads, I think we’re going to be executed’
Americans offered ‘aggressive patrols’ in Iranian airspace
In a sunlit gym, sailors finally tell their side of story
Captives’ accounts ‘dictated by British military’

So now we know the truth, that Iranian “hospitality” is no better than American. Except for one small thing; The American’s morbid, some might say perversely sexual, preoccupation with the use physical torture.

Mr Sharafi said he was taken from the Karrada district to a base near Baghdad airport and questioned in Arabic and English. “The CIA officials’ questions focused mainly on Iran’s presence and influence in Iraq,” he said. “When faced with my responses on Iran’s official ties with the Iraqi government they increased the torture.”

Y’all come back now, y’hear? Those hillbillies extended a warm southern welcome to that al-Qaeda ay-rab terrorist, and he didn’t have the decency to say thanks…

One of them dropped to the floor screaming, “They are going to execute us.” Another could be heard throwing up. Lt Felix Carman, 26, managed to struggle out of his bindings and rip his blindfold off. He yelled that there was no firing squad, to relax, before the Iranian guards jumped on him.

Water-boarding anyone?

Royal Marine Joe Tindall said: “They [the Iranians] changed from the military dress to all black, their faces covered. There were weapons cocking. Someone, I’m not sure who, someone said: ‘Lads, lads, I think we’re going to get executed.’ After that comment someone was sick and as far as I was concerned he had just had his throat cut.” Lieutenant Felix Carman added: “Some of us feared the worst.”

So the Iranians seem to have adopted your own techniques, without the actual physical bodily harm, because of the great success you’ve had with them. Maybe they should have shipped them off to Syria, or Egypt (you know, to those good folks who do such sterling work for the Americans) for some legitimate interrogation.

As the sailors and marines told their stories, the Guardian learned that the US had offered to buzz Iran with fighter jets during the impasse. Diplomatic sources said that, Pentagon officials offered a series of military options, including for US combat aircraft to mount aggressive patrols over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases. Britain told the Pentagon to calm the situation by staying out of it and tone down military exercises in the Gulf.

The Americans, true to form, offer to blow the shit out of everything, and the British opt for the diplomatic approach. For all the current British administration’s faults, for all their complicity in this global atrocity, for all their culpability in the lies that led to this outrage, they are not Americans, insofar as they understand diplomacy. Truly they are a match made in hell.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are convinced that separatist guerrilla attacks in Khuzestan and Baluchistan provinces are the work of British and US intelligence respectively. Earlier this week, ABC television news reported that a Baluchi group, Jundullah, based in Pakistan and carrying out raids inside Iran, had been receiving advice and encouragement from American officials since 2005.

No! The Americans offering “advice and encouragement” to terrorists?

I am so sick of this farce. I am so sick of American adventurism. I am so sick of American imperialism masquerading as a force for freedom. I am so sick of American hypocrisy. I am so sick of America.

J.K.


Happy Birthday!


Iraq: A country drenched in blood
From Shock & Awe to the ‘surge’ without end
Four years on, insurgent strikes claim more US and Iraqi lives
Bush pleads with US public to stand firm over Iraq war
Bush calls for patience on Iraq

Break out the candles, put on a party hat, the Iraq outrage is 4 years old today;

Seven US soldiers died in Iraq at the weekend, bringing to 3,217 the number of American combat fatalities since the invasion four years ago tomorrow. Four were killed by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad.

Mission accomplished! 4 more years… 4 more years… What about the surge?

US troop levels in Iraq are set to rise higher than at any time since the war began four years ago, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. This summer, troop levels will top 160,000 – compared with the 150,000 there were at the time of the invasion.

I see. I know it’s early days (a mere 2 months into the surge) but what about observable returns on investment?

Despite the month-long security crackdown in the capital, six people were killed and 30 injured by a car bomb blast in a Shia suburb yesterday.

Bush, you are a master gambler. You played your hand, and now you must take the pot. Operation Iraqi Liberation (or OIL for short) is quite a pot…

In all, 24 corpses were found in different parts of the city.

Only 24? Now that’s a success by any one’s standards. Heckuva job there Bushy and Cheney.

General David Petraeus, the new commander of US forces, spoke of “encouraging signs” in Baghdad, but told the BBC he did not want to get “overly optimistic on the basis of several weeks of a reduced sectarian murder rate“.

Once again, Petraeus speaks of “encouraging signs”, without sharing these signs with us (they must be very private, or even ecstatic, visions). Methinks he is a liar and a charlatan.

For Iraqis, every year has been worse than the last since 2003. In November and December last year alone 5,000 civilians were murdered, often tortured to death, according to the UN. This toll compares to 3,000 killed in 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. Many Iraqis have voted with their feet, some two million fleeing – mostly to Syria and Jordan – since President George Bush and Tony Blair ordered US and British troops across the Iraqi border four years ago today.

Are these signs “encouraging” Petraeus?

The US troop “surge” has allowed hundreds of families to return to homes abandoned in the face of sectarian attacks.

Doubtless at gunpoint. “We’re here for your freedom, gawd-demmit! No shut the f@ck up and get back to your mud huts!”

“Moving security forces into an insurgent area to ‘shut it down’ is like stamping on a puddle – the large pool of water disappears, but little splashes and spots radiate out from it,” said the official. “So if security operations are all you are doing, they will have local and temporary effects. Violence will decrease, but only where you are operating, and when you leave it will come back.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, what say the imbecile in chief;

In a far cry from his boast in May 2003 of mission accomplished, Mr Bush offered a more modest assessment, saying the war could still be won… “Four years after this war began, the fight is difficult, but it can be won. It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through,” he said.

Lets just hope we all have the courage and the resolve to see this embarrassment through.

“The new strategy will need more time to take effect. And there will be good days, and there will be bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds.” He predicted that success “will take months, not days or weeks”.

Ah, the good days before Bush and Cheney (not to mention Rummy)… You attempt to seduce us, you silver tongued devil, with sweet words. But it doesn’t work. The reality of the situation breaks the illusion.

Some other impressions of how things are going;

But the political side of the “surge” plan is going badly, according to the Pentagon and others. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is showing little enthusiasm for American attempts to reverse one of their own worst mistakes: the “de-Baathification” of the old regime, which removed thousands of Sunni military commanders and pushed them into the insurgency. “In one sentence,” the official concluded, “my take on the current situation is: ‘Right strategy, great team, possibly too late.’

We can only imagine what the house of no ideas has in store for all of us next.

J.K.


Incompetent or intellectually challenged?


We’ll have to talk to militants, says US chief in Iraq
General urges Iraq militant talks
2,200 US military police to join Iraq ‘surge’
US approves more troops for Iraq

The top US general in Iraq says the military alone cannot provide a solution to the country’s conflict.

Top US generals learn a lot more slowly than the rest of the world.

Gen Petraeus said: “There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security… but it is not sufficient. There needs to be a political aspect.”

Eh… Did I hear you correctly? Is this an earnest admission, or an all-too-typically cynical attempt, from an all-too-typically cynical and inept military, to seek a solution to a problem they created through their incompetence? Is it a strategy designed to merely buy time and forestall the inevitable?

Gen Petraeus said: “It’s too early to discern significant trends, but there have been a few encouraging signs.”

and elsewhere;

I think that we expected that there would be in the short-term an increase in violence as the surge began to make itself felt,” Mr Gates said, adding there were other “very preliminary positive signs” the security plan was working.

And here’s where you furnish us with examples of these positive, or encouraging, signs.

“Car bombs have targeted hundreds of Iraqis,” Petraeus said. He also denounced the wave of other attacks, including the “thugs with no soul” who have killed more than 150 Shiite pilgrims in the past three days.

Yes, yes. We read the news. Question: what do you mean by soul? Question: are you a man of god, or do you believe in the unifying power of a type of American popular music? Question: who exactly are the thugs with no soul?

However he admitted “sensational attacks inevitably will continue“.

Sensational! Spectacular! Explosions! Guns! Profits! Sex! Murder! Sequels!

He said US and Iraqi forces must “control the demons responsible for the vicious sectarian violence of the past year – demons who have torn at the very fabric of Iraqi society“.

Behold! An example of the American school of rhetoric in full flow… Such demagoguery! Such bombastic, high-flown, prose! Such poverty of meaning! Such biblical references! Such invention… Such calculated deception.

The demons responsible? Why that would be you guys. The US military. Please restrain yourselves. And by the way, you’ve failed. Sit at the front of the class with the other special students.

J.K.