Bellingham Herald : Pentagon rebuffs request to televise 9/11 trial from Guantanamo

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pentagon rebuffs request to televise 9/11 trial from Guantanamo

By CAROL ROSENBERG — The Miami Herald | November 26, 2012

MIAMI — A surrogate of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday rejected a request by the Sept. 11 defense lawyers to let media organizations televise the Sept. 11 trial from the war court at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

William Lietzau, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy, wrote the defense lawyers that the Pentagon provides ample transparency for the trials through news coverage, a remote viewing site at Fort Meade, Md., and a website that posts transcripts of the pre-trial proceedings within 24 hours of hearings.

"At this time, there are no plans to televise military commission proceedings," Lietzau wrote in a single-page response to the lawyers for five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A total of 13 defense lawyers for the former CIA prisoners now facing military capital penalty proceedings wrote Panetta on Nov. 1 requesting that he use his authority as secretary of defense to enable the broadcasts.

The chief military commissions judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, said at a hearing earlier this year that only Panetta could make that decision.

Lietzau said he was responding for Panetta.

The lawyers, who defend alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men, argued that the trial, likely a year away, "is the most significant criminal trial in the history of our country." They argued there's a "pervasive distrust of these proceedings," and that the Guantanamo system has harmed the reputation of the United States.

"Allow the entire country, and world, to observe the proceedings for themselves," they wrote.

Lietzau responded that the war court was following U.S. military courts-martial and federal criminal practice. His letter was dated Nov. 20, but the defense lawyers said they received the reply Monday and provided a copy to The Miami Herald.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief war crimes prosecutor, has opposed broadcasts in remarks that suggest cameras in the court could harm the dignity of the death-penalty proceedings.

Defense lawyers have said that the public might be surprised to realize how much of the proceedings will be held in closed session.

They also want wider scrutiny on the hybrid nature of the proceedings that borrow from both military and civilian justice.

The Local (Germany) : Cops: 'Mafia-style killing' was complex suicide

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cops: 'Mafia-style killing' was complex suicide

November 22, 2012

Police in Hamburg investigating the death of a man who was found shot in the head in a tied-up sack floating in a river, suspect that rather than having been the victim of a Mafia hit, he killed himself.

The body of 43-year-old Uwe Sattler was found in the River Elbe in July by a fisherman. He was wearing a rucksack full of rocks and had been shot in the head and put into a sack fastened with cable ties before he hit the water.

Local media was rife with speculation about a Mafia murder - but after extensive investigation, the police now say they are nearly certain that the Sattler killed himself.

"We are 99.999 percent certain it was suicide," a Hamburg police spokeswoman told The Local.

"There is no other explanation; no other motive and no other evidence."

Detectives have worked out that there was enough of an opening in the sack between the cable ties for Sattler to get an arm out and shoot himself so that afterwards the gun would fall to the ground. He would have had to have done this while perched on the edge of a bridge or jetty to ensure falling into the water.

Why he would make such an effort to do this remains a mystery - as does the whereabouts of the gun, which was never found. "It just goes to show, there is nothing that does not exist," the police spokeswoman said.

After using fingerprints to identify the body, police went to his flat in Hamburg which reportedly looked newly renovated - and held absolutely no furniture. Officers found only a small box of documents, including a note to say that the belongings in the cellar should be given to the building landlord, Die Welt said.

Back in the summer when detectives were trying to piece together Sattler's life, they also found little to work with. He was single and unemployed, and seemed to have no friends, nor any contact with his family. Despite intensive efforts, the police admitted in July that they had been unable to find a single friend or acquaintance.

He had moved from Berlin to Hamburg in September 2008, but no friends could be found in the capital either. Die Welt said that he had rented a van in 2004 and crashed head-long into a bridge pillar. He survived the crash but was seriously injured. When police went to his flat after the crash they found it was completely empty just like his place in Hamburg.

This would seem to be reason to suggest he was suicidal - although might leave open some questions about the immensely complicated method he supposedly chose in Hamburg.

The investigation has been put on ice, but the case remains open.

The Local/hc

see also: Anorak : The mysterious death of Uwe Sattler – Germany’s Gareth Williams

Cynthia McKinney: Open Letter

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Open Letter on the Occasion of the Seating of the New York Session of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Cynthia McKinney | October 7, 2012

This weekend, anti-war protests are taking place all over the world. I do believe that the position of the vast majority of the world’s people is one that is utterly tired of a hungry war machine ignited by gangster bankers concomitantly devouring the money resources of the world’s people. There is a growing awareness of exactly where the problem lies: it is not in the millions of working people who struggle every month just to make ends meet; it is not in the immigrant fleeing the intentional destabilization of her homeland; it is not in the descendants of Africans imported from Africa for enslavement; it is not in the right-wing White person misled to believe that individuals from the foregoing groups are his enemy; it is not in the group of people who pray to Allah; it is not in the people on the street this weekend demanding peace and an end to war. It is clear that those who helped construct this current society and now preside over it are also the ones who benefit from having things as they are today. Increasingly, more and more of us are paying an even higher price for them to continue their privilege because enough is never enough for them. Real change, then, requires not only changes in the names, color, ethnicities, languages spoken, religion, or gender of those who preside over the current political state of affairs. Real change requires dismantling the current political, economic, and social structures that serve only the interests of an elite to whom current elected office holders answer. In short, the kind of change that people thought they were voting for in 2008. I have consistently drawn attention to the need for this kind of deep, structural change. Therefore, this Open Letter addresses what is happening to me as I challenge a system that no longer serves the interests of the people and push for the kind of change that will really make a difference.

As I write this, I note the irony that I am currently conducting research in order to write a paper on the violent repression carried out by individuals acting on behalf of the United States government against certain political actors of the 1960s and early 1970s. It was during this research that I came across the notion of “soft repression” and immediately recognized myself in what I was reading. I said to myself as I read, “Hey, that’s me.” So, I decided to write this Open Letter in order to blow the cover off a secret that I have walked with for years.

“Soft repression” tactics include ridicule, stigma, and silencing. I have experienced and continue to experience each one of these types of targeting. I routinely receive hate mail and withstand very active organized attempts to ridicule, stigmatize, and eventually silence me. I routinely experience strange occurrences with my computer (typing by itself) and telephone (answered by someone before it even rings on my end), and more. Strange things happen to my friends and to the friends of my friends (like police stops for nothing, and worse, calls to remote immigrant acquaintances asking for information about me).

Not too long ago, I received a call from a lawyer with the ACLU who tracks politically-inspired civil liberties violations and he told me that my name came up in a Texas Fusion Center of the Department of Homeland Security document as someone, associating with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and traveling to Lebanon with him, who should be surveilled for any attempts engaged in by me to push Sharia law for the U.S. It’s ludicrous, I know. It’s even more ludicrous that U.S. tax dollars are being spent to surveil people for this stupidity. But there it is.

More recently, Congresswoman Maxine Waters courageously asked the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, at a Congressional Hearing if the FBI was surveilling me because she had documents that suggested that due to my political beliefs and inflammatory words uttered by others after my 2006 campaign election theft that placed blame for the unfortunate election results on Jewish Israel partisans inside the U.S.

I have been stalked (unfortunately, the prosecution occurred under a false identity as a Muslim Pakistani) and thank goodness to local authorities, the perpetrator spent time in jail until his high-priced lawyer bailed him out, and the individual with the false identity was convicted of stalking. Upon my return to the U.S. from Cape Town, South Africa at which the Russell Tribunal found that Israel practices its own unique form of apartheid, I was notified by my local FBI office that I was [the] subject of a terroristic threat, along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, by some poor hillbillies from the north Georgia mountains. The FBI offered to protect me from any other hillbillies who might get funny ideas.

Well, I’ve been through this before with the FBI, when a journalist called for my lynching on my way to vote. My alarmed Congressional staff alerted the FBI--only for us all to learn, years later, that this particular “journalist” was on the FBI payroll at the time that he made those reprehensible remarks.

I have lived with this “soft repression” since, as a Member of Congress-elect in 1992, I refused to sign the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pledge of support for Israel. I will begin to document and make public what has heretofore been covert activity carried out by bullies who pick on the weak. The members of my inner circle and I are extremely weak compared to the power and resources of those orchestrating and carrying out this “soft repression.”

What could they possibly be afraid of?

I will answer my own question: values whose time has come—truth, justice, peace, and dignity. Not only for the elite few, but also for the rest of us: everybody’s truth and everybody’s dignity.

I am honored to serve as a juror on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. I am honored to serve with Angela Davis and Alice Walker and Dennis Means as the U.S. contingent of jurors here in New York City. Davis, Walker, and Means are giants in U.S. activism, demonstrating self-sacrifice, dignity, and great love for community. I have been with this Tribunal from its opening Session in Barcelona, where I was the only U.S. member. At these New York Sessions so far, we have spoken of colonialism, oppression, murder, and war with impunity. Therefore, I in no way want to equate the unusual events occurring around me with the violence of the situation faced by Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, the particular focus of this Tribunal. I seek merely to expose covert actions directed at me, and people close to me, that constitute bullying and soft repression that would otherwise go unnoted and whose purpose I surmise is to punish me for my values and political beliefs that favor justice and peace, and, most probably, to dissuade me from future political activities.

Their plan will not work. I believe in hearing everyone’s truths, especially from those whose voices have been shut down. I believe that we can only achieve justice when we are willing to face everyone’s truths. I believe that peace is achievable when justice is prevalent. And I believe that human and planetary dignity will exist during such time as we all live together in peace. My work, every day, is to advance this cause in the best way that I know, using the tools at my disposal at this time.

I have already received some requests for these documents that have been made available to me; I will make them available to anyone who asks.

Toronto Star : Al Qaeda airline bomber was secret informant

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Al Qaeda airline bomber was secret informant

Reuters | May 8, 2012

WASHINGTON—A bomber from the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen sent to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner last month was actually a Saudi intelligence agent who infiltrated the group and volunteered for the suicide mission, U.S. media reported on Tuesday.

Working closely with the CIA, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency placed the operative inside Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, with the goal of convincing his handlers to give him a new type of non-metallic bomb for the mission, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Western intelligence agencies have identified AQAP as among the most dangerous and determined Al Qaeda affiliates in the world, dedicated in part to attacks on the West.

The explosive device was intended to be smuggled aboard an aircraft undetected and then detonated.

The double agent arranged instead to deliver the device to U.S. and other intelligence authorities waiting outside Yemen, the L.A. Times reported. The agent arrived safely in an unidentified country and is being debriefed.

Experts at the FBI’s bomb laboratory in Quantico, Va., are now analyzing the device to determine if it really could have evaded airport security, the newspaper said.

If such a device could be brought on board an aircraft, it could in theory be detonated without the knowledge of aircraft passengers and crew.

The main charge was a high-grade military explosive that “undoubtedly would have brought down an aircraft,” the New York Times reported, citing a senior American official.

It appeared to be an upgraded version of the so-called “underwear bomb” that failed to down a passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the L.A. Times said.

“Like that bomb, this device bears the forensic signature of feared Al Qaeda bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan Asiri,” who is believed to be hiding in Yemen, the L.A. Times website reported.

The operation relied not on the high-tech and satellite surveillance for which the CIA has been known in recent years, but old-fashioned human intelligence work.

It did, however, produce intelligence that helped the CIA locate top Al Qaeda operative Fahd al-Quso, who was killed on Sunday when a CIA drone targeted him with a missile as he stepped out of his car in Yemen, the newspapers reported.

Quso was thought by intelligence analysts to have played a role in the bombing of guided missile destroyer USS Cole in a Yemeni port in 2000.