As Senate Holds Guantánamo Hearing, Biden Urged to ‘Finally End This Chapter of Injustice’

Human rights defenders on Tuesday renewed demands for President Joe Biden to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba as the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing at which experts and advocates testified about the damage that Gitmo does to detainees, the nation’s standing in the world, and the elusive pursuit of justice for victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and their families.

Lamenting that two-third of the remaining 39 Guantánamo prisoners – there have been approximately 780 men and boys held at the facility since 2002 – have not been charged with any crime, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked, “How can that possibly be justice?”

“The story of Guantánamo is the story of a nation that lost its way,” said Durbin, to the protestations of observers who noted that indefinite detention and torture have been part of the US narrative for centuries. “It is a story of justice delayed and denied again and again – not only for detainees but also for the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones.”

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Biden Keeps Trump’s Crushing Sanctions Yet Blames Iran for Nuclear Impasse

From The Grayzone:

Pushback with Aaron Maté

At the Vienna talks on restoring the Iran nuclear deal, the US and EU are accusing Iran of refusing to compromise. Mohammad Marandi, a University of Tehran professor advising the Iran delegation in Vienna, says that the compromise was the nuclear deal itself, and the problem is the US refusal to abide by its own commitments and lift the sanctions that target Iranian civilians.

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Senate Dems Help Torpedo Resolution That Would Have Blocked $650 Million Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

The United States Senate on Tuesday evening voted down a joint resolution that would have blocked the proposed sale of $650 million worth of U.S. armaments to Saudi Arabia, weapons critics said will help exacerbate a war in Yemen that is driving one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

In a 67-30 vote, the upper chamber rejected S.J. Res. 31, which was introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and would have halted the sale of 280 Raytheon AIM-120C-7/C-8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, 596 LAU-128 missile rail launchers, along with spare parts, support, and logistical services to the Saudi monarchy for use in its war against Yemen.

“My simple question is, why in the world would the United States reward a regime that has caused such pain in Yemen with more weapons,” Sanders tweeted after the vote. “The answer is we should not.”

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Governor of Hawai’i Orders Operations of US Navy’s Massive Jet Fuel Tanks Suspended and Fuel Removed from Tanks within 30 Days

On December 6, after all hell broke loose at each of the five town hall meetings held over several days by the U.S. Navy to try to calm military families who have been drinking and bathing in fuel contaminated water, the Governor of the State of Hawai’i issued an order to the Navy to suspend the operation of the massive jet fuel tanks and within 30 days "defuel" or remove the fuel out of the tanks! Governor Ige said the public had lost confidence in the Navy.

Order signed by Hawai’i Governor to suspend operations of US Navy fuel tank and to “defuel” / remove the fuel from the tanks.

For the past week, rather than providing accurate information about the drinking water contamination, senior military leadership were caught in their own webs of inaccurate information given to the military families affected by fuel in the water…and given to the State of Hawai’i. By the end of the December 5 Town Hall, hundreds irate military community members in-person had peppered senior officers, including the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, with sharp questions and with over 3,200 comments in the Facebook Live chat.

Carlos del Toro, Secretary of the Navy and Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations had arrived in Honolulu early for the December 7 Pearl Harbor Day commemorations as an indication of the severity of the medical and emotional toll on Navy families from the poor response of the Navy command to the contaminated water crisis.

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Biden Has Set the Mousetrap: What Mouse Will He Catch?

Today the “international community” is waiting impatiently for the start of the Biden-Putin video conference which is scheduled to begin at 18.00 Moscow time, 10.00 AM Washington time. While the proceedings will be closed to the public, the opening salutations will be aired and much will be made by our pundits of the body language of the two leaders. Every minute that the two men spend together will be weighed by our television and press analysts for what that says about the substance of the talks. Then there will be the press conferences of the two presidents immediately after the video conference, providing still more of a feast for the journalists and commentators.

In the event we are awaiting, all attention will be directed to one man, Vladimir Putin, to see if he flinches before the threats of dire economic sanctions that Biden has prepared with the clear backing of Congressional hawks and with alleged backing of the European allies should the Russians do what Washington says they are planning, namely invade Ukraine.. The sanctions list that has been released to the public includes cut-off from the international settlements body SWIFT and halting the convertibility of the ruble into dollars, euros or pounds. Such measures would be unprecedented in the post-Cold War period and, if the Russians had not long rehearsed their own devastating response for the West, would normally constitute a casus belli.

In short, Biden and his associates are surely congratulating themselves on the way they have set the mousetrap for Putin, who will be damned if he does invade Ukraine and damned if he doesn’t when the Kiev forces retake the Donbass. Should Putin choose not to invade, for whatever reason, with or without a Ukrainian march on Donbass, then Biden can claim that his standing up to the Autocrat worked, and he will potentially raise his domestic standing with the American electorate as defender of the U.S.-led world order. This, by the way, is one scenario which I failed to identify in my earlier writings on the U.S.–Russian confrontation over Ukraine. How well a zero sum scenario will actually play with the Republicans and Democratic hawks remains to be seen.

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Illegal Attacks on Iranians Won’t End the Impasse

Giorgio Cafiero notes near the end of a new article on Israel and Iran that Iranian nuclear weapons are not a foregone conclusion if the Vienna talks fail and the agreement collapses:

Iran’s nuclear activities seem designed to be mainly about boosting the country’s standing and leveraging the fears that other powers have of the Iranian nuclear program. To continue achieving such goals, the Iranians do not necessarily ever need to acquire nuclear weapons and Iran could remain a nuclear threshold country if the JCPOA is not restored.

This is an important point, and one that needs to be emphasized as the prospects for a successful negotiation are dwindling. The nuclear issue is frequently framed as “letting” Iran get nuclear weapons or waging preventive war to stop that from happening, but there are other alternatives. It is not a given that the Iranian government will choose to build nuclear weapons even if the JCPOA collapses. They have not had anything resembling a nuclear weapons program for the last 18 years, and they have not made the political decision to develop these weapons despite being sanctioned heavily for most of the last 15.

The JCPOA was considered necessary to demonstrate that Iran intends its nuclear program to be peaceful, and to prove that Iran accepted substantial restrictions on their program that were not otherwise required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many of those restrictions expired over time because Iran was never going to accept them in perpetuity. If Iran remained on the threshold but took no action to cross it, that is something that everyone should be able to live with. Preventive war wouldn’t prevent anything, since it would almost certainly provoke Iran to change its position and seek a deterrent.

If the nuclear deal isn’t going to be salvaged, that does not have to mean war or proliferation, but it will give Iran hawks an opening to start a war that will likely end with more proliferation. Salvaging the nuclear deal was still the best way forward, but there is clearly no political will in Washington or in European capitals to do what is necessary to save it. Having completely failed in upholding their obligations, the U.S. and its European allies will pretend that Iran is to blame for the fruits of their failure.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.