“We are at the edge of losing an historic opportunity”

by matttbastard

Steve Clemons and Mustafa Barghouti analyze Barack Obama’s recent trip to Israel and speech in Berlin and the implications both present regarding his Middle East policy as president.

Related: The speech:

(Remarks as prepared for delivery here)

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Before the Memos

by matttbastard

Flashback: On Murat Kurnaz:

Murat Kurnaz was picked up in Pakistan in December 2001, before then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales signed off on the torture memo. Kurnaz and hundreds of others were subjected to “illegal torture” (what a concept) before Bybee and Yoo drafted a memo that would protect the torturers from prosecution. The expanded legal definition of torture in their memo doesn’t provide cover for those agents who tortured Kurnaz immediately after he was detained.

“The beatings began as soon as I was turned over to the Americans,” Kurnaz said. Once in the Americans’ hands, he was transferred to a camp at Kandahar, in Afghanistan, where suspected terrorists were held in tents. His account of his torture at the hands of the Americans–in his book and in interviews–is clear-eyed and consistent. He has repeated it in testimony before a committee of the German parliament, where he was described as a “very credible witness.”

In the prison camp in Kandahar, Kurnaz said, he was hoisted on chains and was forced to hang by his hands while he was being interrogated. He was left hanging for “hours and days” after the interrogators left. An American physician in camouflage would come and check his vital signs to determine if he could withstand more enhanced interrogation.

The doctor’s house call must have failed Kurnaz’s neighbor in the next room. “They were hanging me and pulled me up higher than the other times. I could see the man in the other room. He was hanging, too. Maybe they lifted him higher that time, too, I don’t know. I had heard him moaning and breathing; this is the first time I saw him. He was dead. The color of his body was changed and I could see he was dead.”

Kurnaz said he was also subjected to waterboarding and electric shock. And that beatings were routine and constant. He theorizes that much of the torture was a result of the failure of the American soldiers and agents to capture any real terrorists in the initial sweeps. (He was told that he was sold to the Americans for $3,000 by Pakistani police, who identified him as a terrorist.) “They didn’t have any big fish. And they thought that by torture they could get one of us to say something. ‘I know Osama’ or something like that. Then they could say they had a big fish.”

Ah, the good old days, back when torture was still fucking illegal.

*blink*

Background: more on Kurnaz from Der Spiegel (and here) and CBS News (h/t Kevin Drum).

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Imperialism Is Tough!

by matttbastard

Somebody get Uncle Steve some cheese to go with his ahistorical whine:

On Afghanistan, the dominant defence and foreign policy file, Harper again looks ahead to tough choices. Rather than talking up the military mission in Kandahar as an inspiring undertaking, he used the year-end sit-down to vent frustration at slow progress in building a self-sufficient Afghan government. “You know, the United Nations and our allies will have been in Afghanistan 10 years in 2011. For God’s sakes, Germany was basically fully restored within four years; Germany joined NATO ten years after it was conquered.”

You know, that quite possibly might be the most strained, ridiculously inappropriate post-9/11 WWII analogy ever. And that’s saying a lot.

Really wish I could help the Cynical one here:

Somebody please tell me that Captain Charisma didn’t just compare World War II Germany to present-day Afghanistan.

[…]

Please tell me that my home and native land is not being governed by someone that fucking imbecilic.

harper_cowboy.jpg

Um, so, uh, what’s everyone got planned for NYE?

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