Obama Admin: Don’t Question Torturers’ Sincerity

The Supreme Court disgraced itself on Monday by torpedoing the appeal of Maher Arar, the Canadian who was kidnapped at John F. Kennedy International Airport and sent by the U.S. government to Syria for torturing.

The Canadian government has publicly apologized to Arar for providing false information to the U.S. government about Arar’s suspicious connections. The U.S. government has refused to admit it did anything wrong in shipping Arar to the Middle East to be tortured at U.S. behest.

The Obama administration vigorously opposed Arar’s motion to get justice and to discover the details of the U.S. government’s role in his horror trip. Obama’s Justice Department told the court that permitting discovery in Arar’s case could result in unfairly exposing or scrutinizing “the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be removed to Syria.”

Now we also have sovereign immunity for the reputation of torturers and torture enablers???

Wall Street Journal Writes Green Movement’s Obituary

Bret Stephens, the neoconservative foreign policy editor for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, proclaims in his column today that “the Iranian Green Movement is dead”. The column is a revealing one, although not for the actual argument, which is shoddy even by Stephens’s standards. (He predictably places all blame on Obama for the Green Movement’s failure to topple the Iranian regime last June, but rather incredibly goes on to suggest that what the protesters really needed was for Obama to publicly declare U.S. support for an Israeli attack on Iran. Surely not even Stephens — for whom the answer to any foreign policy question is “increase support for Israel” — can actually believe this.)

No, what is revealing about the column is what it tells us about the intentions of Stephens and the rest of the neoconservative Bomb Iran crowd. In the year since the 2009 election crisis, these hawks have constantly (and rather smugly) proclaimed their undying support for the Green Movement, and sought to wrap their own hawkish stance — which originates primarily in a concern for Israeli interests — in the moral authority of the protesters. Of course, the notion that the protesters were fighting to have Israel bomb their country, or the U.S. “cripple” it with sanctions, was absurd on its face, but then the neocons have never been shy about claiming to speak on behalf of others. Thus the reverent mention of Neda Agha-Soltan became a staple of every warmongering op-ed, as if Neda died in order to maintain Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the Middle East.

The only problem for the hawks was that the Iranian opposition began increasingly to speak for itself in the Western media, and rather unfortunately failed to stay on message. We saw this, for instance, in Akbar Ganji’s comments of last month, in which he warned that military strikes or economic sanctions would “destroy” the Green Movement, and stated that “any foreign intervention is bound to hurt us”. Similarly, opposition leaders have been outspoken in defending Iran’s right to enrich uranium, leading Stephens’s Washington Post counterpart Jackson Diehl to lash out at the Green Movement for failing to hew closely enough to the preferences of Washington neoconservatives.

It is in this context that we need to read Stephens’s obituary for the Green Movement; his column may be indicative of the tack that those pushing war against Iran will increasingly take in the future. If the opposition refuses to stay on message, in other words, the only way forward is to proclaim its irrelevance, and if opposition leaders warn that a military attack will destroy their movement, the only way forward is to declare it dead already. If nothing else, this trend may bring a little more honesty into the Iran debate, as the neocons stop pretending to speak on behalf of the Green Movement and admit that they couldn’t care less what it wants.

Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted

Breaking: Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted in Trial for Protest at the US Capitol Calling for Guantanamo’s Closure and the Investigation of Deaths at the Prison.

From WitnessTorture.org:

On Monday, June 14, twenty-four activists with Witness Against Torture were acquitted in Washington, D.C. Superior Court of charges of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct.” The charges stemmed from demonstrations at the US Capitol on January 21,2010 – the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.

“With his decision, the judge validated the effort of the demonstrators to condemn the ongoing crime of indefinite detention at Guantanamo,” says Bill Quigley, legal adviser to the defendants and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantanamo,” says Ellen Graves, one of the defendants. “We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations. That light shone brightly today.”

“We will use our freedom to continue to work for the day when Guantanamo is closed and those who designed and carried out torture policies are held to account,” says defendant Paul Thorson.

On January 21, activists dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises,Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been – as recent evidence suggests – the result of the men being tortured to death (see [the other] Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March, 2010, Harper’s).


Victor Davis Hanson Is Very Confused

Victor Davis Hanson: With Obama and his moral equivalence, Israel is hardly any better than Hamas or Hezbollah or the Palestinian Authority. I wonder, though, if they really believe that.

What if a Jew says he wants to live in Ramallah because it’s a nice place? Arabs live in Nazareth and other places in Israel, so what if a Jew says he wants to be a Palestinian citizen?

Michael J. Totten: That’s impossible.

VDH: Jews aren’t allowed there.

MJT: It’s crazy, isn’t it?

VDH: That fact all by itself should tell the Obama administration that there’s something weird about that place and there’s no moral equivalence.

~ Interview with Michael J. Totten

VDH’s implication — that Palestinians are free to move to Israel at will, while Israelis are not similarly free to move to the West Bank — is, to say the least, peculiar. Still, he has no need to worry. Any Jew who takes a fancy to the Ramallah area — whether or not they’ve so much as set foot in the region before — is free to move to any of the several settlements that surround the city, where he or she will enjoy tax breaks, cheap housing, and government subsidies. But what about the reverse? What if a Palestinian from Ramallah decides that he or she wants to live in Tel Aviv (“because it’s a nice place”)? More to the point, what if a Palestinian whose family was driven from the Nazareth area in 1948 wants to move to Nazareth? VDH settles for implying (rather than stating explicitly) that they are free to do so, because he clearly knows (but chooses not to dwell on) the fact that this would be impossible. To allow it would be to open the door to the right of return, and thus — as VDH would surely warn apocalyptically — the “destruction of Israel”.

It should surprise no one that VDH displays an understanding of the issues at stake that is almost entirely backward. Still, it’s revealing that he holds up this particular example as proof that “there’s no moral equivalence” in the conflict.

(For anyone who hasn’t read it, now is as good a time as any to plug Chase Madar’s brilliant VDH parody from last year’s American Conservative.)

Flotilla Footage Mirrors

Apparently Vimeo and other sources hosting the hour-long newly released Gaza Flotilla Attack footage, blogged below by Antiwar.com Managing News Editor Jason Ditz, have been hard pressed to manage all the bandwidth demanded by people who prefer truth to what Benyamin Netanyahu says. So they’ve set up some mirrors, torrent files, and other methods of getting the video out to the public.

Just click right here