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June 10, 2009

Palau Agrees To Accept Chinese Muslims Held At Guantanamo

Palau Island

President Barack Obama ordered that Guantanamo be shut down by January 2010. Since the order came down U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried has been leading the U.S. State Department’s efforts to resettle the Guantanamo detainees.

After months of negotiations, Palau President Johnson Toribiong said on Wednesday that his government would be “honored and proud” to take in the  17 Uighur Chinese Muslim prisoners who have been held for years at the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for suspected terrorist acts. The Bush administration refused to designate the Uighurs as “enemy combatants” but would not release them.  In late 2008 a U.S. federal judge ordered the men to be released into the United States. That ruling was eventually overturned by an appeals court.

Sandra Pierantozzi, Palau’s minister of state says her nation is glad to have the Uighurs. “If they want to settle in Palau we would welcome them,” Pierantozzi said. “This is very much in line with the culture of Palau, where people who drift in and who needs settlement and place are welcome to our shores and our tradition will take care of them and insert them into our society.

The Uighurs are from China’s western Xinjiang province and Beijing has accused the Uighurs — who dominate the province — as separatists who want to create an independent “East Turkestan.” The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia.

Washington is refusing to send the Uighurs back to China, fearing they would be persecuted.

Pierantozzi says her nation is not concerned over China’s likely displeasure over the resettlement of the Uighurs. “We continue to conduct business as usual, we are a free sovereign country, we are free to make decisions for us, as we believe and see for our benefit,” Pierantozzi said, “and also we are a small country but we are a part of the United Nations and the world community of nations, so we try to do our part.”

The Pacific island nation of Palau is located southeast of The Philippines, south of Guam and north of Indonesia.  Palau is a former U.S. trust territory who has been independent since 1994 and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, China’s longtime rival, rather than Beijing.

It has been reported that the Palau government agreed to accept $200 million in aid from the U.S. in exchange for accepting the Uighurs. 

April 23, 2009

Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney Irrevocably Linked To Water-boarding

waterboarding  A Senate Intelligence Committee document has revealed that when Condoleezza Rice was Bush’s National Security Adviser she personally verbally approved the CIA’s request to use water-boarding to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to water-boarding in July 2002.  This is the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to approve use of water-boarding. 

The report gives a detailed timeline of how the CIA’s violent “enhanced interrogation” techniques was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House.  The timeline also shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

While there have long been suspicions that the White House was involved in the decision, the actions have until now been blamed on the CIA and unnamed officials at the Pentagon.

The report describes a meeting between Dick Cheney, then-CIA Director George Tenet and Dr. Rice in July 2002. The Secretary of State “advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation” of alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, the report said.

In 2003, the CIA briefed Dr. Rice, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft — the then Attorney General — on the use of water-boarding and other methods including week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of stress positions. The Senate report says that officials “reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy”.

CIA memos released by President Obama’s administration last week revealed that Mr. Zubaydah was water-boarded at least 83 times in the course of one month and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad who claimed to have planned the September 11 attacks was water-boarded183 times in one month.

Experts have said that water-boarding is so horrific that even the most hardened terrorists have not been able to stand it for more than a minute without begging to talk.

(more…)

November 13, 2008

Should The Obama Administration Investigate and Prosecute The Bush Administration?

george-w-bush-wanted-2

During his reign King George used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for executive branch documents and testimony from former aides. Now that Bush will no longer rule, investigators are hoping that the Obama administration will open up Pandora’s filing cabinets and withdraw the declaration of executive privilege that Bush officials have used to keep from raising their right hands and swearing under oath.

“I intend to ensure that our outstanding subpoenas and document requests relating to the US attorneys matter are enforced,” said Representative John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I am hopeful that progress can be made with the coming of the new administration.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First have  and Human Rights First already have detailed reports ready for the new administration calling for criminal investigations into severe allegations of abuse of detainees at Guantanamo and other American holding prison oversees, etc.

With America and the world in the midst of a severe economic crisis, no one knows if President Obama will give his blessings to any such investigation, but we can hope. 

Since Presidents don’t have crystal balls and don’t know what kind of prickly situations they might find themselves in during their tenure, some tend not to pursue investigations into their predecessor’s acts while in office. George W. Bush used executive privilege for the first time in 2001 to stop Congressional Republicans from investigating the Clinton administration.

In April Obama told The Philadelphia Daily News that people need to discern what warranties an investigation and shouldn’t be eager to investigate just for investigations sake.  “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Obama said, but added, “I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

But even if Obama himself throws-out the calls for investigations, he cannot control what the courts or Congress does.

Let’s hope that Representatives Conyers and Kucinich stay vigilant and prosecute Bush and Cheney for all their transgressions.

Also read: https://letustalk.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/drama-congressman-dennis-kucinich-calls-for-bush-impeachment/

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