Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) or The Making Of A Myth

December 6, 2013

Politicians and people around the globe pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013. Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from apartheid to multiracial democracy after spending almost three decades in prison.

President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, July 4, 1993. Photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States

President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, July 4, 1993. Photo: Executive Office of the President of the United States

“Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy,” argues foreign policy analyst Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast.

“In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of terrorist groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in National Review said his ‘vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.’ As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.”

Read full story.


Four European Oil Firms Stop Investing in Iran

October 1, 2010

The United States announced that four of Europe’s five biggest oil companies (Total, Shell, Statoil and Eni) would end their energy investments in Iran, an attempt to bolster the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Iran into entering negotiations over its nuclear program.

Lloyd’s of London also announced it would not insure petroleum shipments going into Iran.

A chart of the major "big oil" companies (Author: Boereck, Hamburg)

A chart of the major "big oil" companies (Author: Boereck, Hamburg)

“The goal here is not to impose sanctions for sanctions’ sake but to end companies from doing business with Iran,” Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg said.

Read full story.


Die “Endlösung der Judenfrage” in Frankreich: Razzia der Pariser Winter-Radrennbahn (1942)

July 17, 2010

Daß die Juden, wenn sie wollten – oder, wenn man sie dazu zwänge, wie es die Antisemiten zu wollen scheinen –, jetzt schon das Übergewicht, ja ganz wörtlich die Herrschaft über Europa haben könnten, steht fest; daß sie nicht darauf hinarbeiten und Pläne machen, ebenfalls. Einstweilen wollen und wünschen sie vielmehr, sogar mit einiger Zudringlichkeit, in Europa, von Europa ein- und aufgesaugt zu werden, sie dürsten darnach, endlich irgendwo fest, erlaubt, geachtet zu sein und dem Nomadenleben, dem ‘ewigen Juden’ ein Ziel zu setzen –; und man sollte diesen Zug und Drang wohl beachten und ihm entgegenkommen. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Als Rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver (frz. Razzia der Winter-Radrennbahn) wird die am 16. und 17. Juli 1942 in Paris durchgeführte Massenfestnahme durch die französische Polizei (auf Anordnung des Generalsekretärs der Polizei des Vichy-Regimes René Bousquet - der nach dem Krieg eine steile Karriere machte und leider 1993 erschossen wurde, bevor man ihn den Prozess machen konnte) und darauf folgende Deportation von 13.000 französischen Juden, darunter über 4.000 Kinder, in die Gaskammern nach Auschwitz bezeichnet.

Die aktive Beteiligung der französischen Vichy-Regierung sowie französischer Polizeibeamter – ohne ausdrücklichen Befehl der nationalsozialistischen Besatzungsmacht – an diesem Verbrechen war jahrzehntelang ein Tabu in Frankreich.

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik.

 “Von diesem Moment an konnte man beginnen, echte Fragen zu stellen, wurde den Opfern der Opfer-Status zuerkannt. Erst dann konnte die Arbeit der Erinnerung, der historischen Auseinandersetzung und die Trauerarbeit der jüdischen Familien wirklich beginnen. Ich nenne das eine „Befriedung“. Denn seit der Erklärung des Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac fühlen sich viele Juden mit ihrer Geschichte versöhnt, mit der Geschichte ihres Landes, des Landes, in dem sie leben.”, bemerkte Jacques Fredj, Direktor des Mémorial de la Shoah, ein Gedenk-, Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum zur Geschichte des Holocaust.

Jacques Chirac & Simone Veil vor der Mauer der Namen in Paris

Jacques Chirac mit der französischen Politikerin, einstigen Präsidentin des Europäischen Parlamentes und Auschwitz-Überlebende Simone Veil vor dem Pariser Denkmal Mur des Noms (Mauer der Namen)

***

Am 16. Juli 1995, hielt der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac eine sehr bewegende Rede, in der er auf die Verstrickungen des französischen Staates in dieses Verbrechen einging.

Rede des französischen Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac

Monsieur le Maire,

Monsieur le Président,

Monsieur l’Ambassadeur,

Monsieur le Grand Rabbin,

Mesdames, Messieurs,

Il est, dans la vie d’une nation, des moments qui blessent la mémoire, et l’idée que l’on se fait de son pays.

Ces moments, il est difficile de les évoquer, parce que l’on ne sait pas toujours trouver les mots justes pour rappeler l’horreur, pour dire le chagrin de celles et ceux qui ont vécu la tragédie. Celles et ceux qui sont marqués à jamais dans leur âme et dans leur chair par le souvenir de ces journées de larmes et de honte.

Il est difficile de les évoquer, aussi, parce que ces heures noires souillent à jamais notre histoire, et sont une injure à notre passé et à nos traditions. Oui, la folie criminelle de l’occupant a été secondée par des Français, par l’Etat français.

Il y a cinquante-trois ans, le 16 juillet 1942, 450 policiers et gendarmes français, sous l’autorité de leurs chefs, répondaient aux exigences des nazis.

Ce jour-là, dans la capitale et en région parisienne, près de dix mille hommes, femmes et enfants juifs furent arrêtés à leur domicile, au petit matin, et rassemblés dans les commissariats de police.

On verra des scènes atroces: les familles déchirées, les mères séparées de leurs enfants, les vieillards – dont certains, anciens combattants de la Grande Guerre, avaient versé leur sang pour la France – jetés sans ménagement dans les bus parisiens et les fourgons de la Préfecture de Police.

On verra, aussi, des policiers fermer les yeux, permettant ainsi quelques évasions.

Pour toutes ces personnes arrêtées, commence alors le long et douloureux voyage vers l’enfer. Combien d’entre-elles ne reverront jamais leur foyer? Et combien, à cet instant, se sont senties trahies? Quelle a été leur détresse?

La France, patrie des Lumières et des Droits de l’Homme, terre d’accueil et d’asile, la France, ce jour-là, accomplissait l’irréparable. Manquant à sa parole, elle livrait ses protégés à leurs bourreaux.

Conduites au Vélodrome d’hiver, les victimes devaient attendre plusieurs jours, dans les conditions terribles que l’on sait, d’être dirigées sur l’un des camps de transit – Pithiviers ou Beaune-la-Rolande – ouverts par les autorités de Vichy.

L’horreur, pourtant, ne faisait que commencer.

Suivront d’autres rafles, d’autres arrestations. A Paris et en province. Soixante-quatorze trains partiront vers Auschwitz. Soixante-seize mille déportés juifs de France n’en reviendront pas.

Nous conservons à leur égard une dette imprescriptible.

La Thora fait à chaque juif devoir de se souvenir. Une phrase revient toujours qui dit: “N’oublie jamais que tu as été un étranger et un esclave en terre de Pharaon”.

Cinquante ans après, fidèle à sa loi, mais sans esprit de haine ou de vengeance, la Communauté juive se souvient, et toute la France avec elle. Pour que vivent les six millions de martyrs de la Shoah. Pour que de telles atrocités ne se reproduisent jamais plus. Pour que le sang de l’holocauste devienne, selon le mot de Samuel Pisar, le “sang de l’espoir”.

Quand souffle l’esprit de haine, avivé ici par les intégrismes, alimenté là par la peur et l’exclusion. Quand à nos portes, ici même, certains groupuscules, certaines publications, certains enseignements, certains partis politiques se révèlent porteurs, de manière plus ou moins ouverte, d’une idéologie raciste et antisémite, alors cet esprit de vigilance qui vous anime, qui nous anime, doit se manifester avec plus de force que jamais.

En la matière, rien n’est insignifiant, rien n’est banal, rien n’est dissociable. Les crimes racistes, la défense de thèses révisionnistes, les provocations en tout genre – les petites phrases, les bons mots – puisent aux mêmes sources.

Transmettre la mémoire du peuple juif, des souffrances et des camps. Témoigner encore et encore. Reconnaître les fautes du passé, et les fautes commises par l’Etat. Ne rien occulter des heures sombres de notre Histoire, c’est tout simplement défendre une idée de l’Homme, de sa liberté et de sa dignité. C’est lutter contre les forces obscures, sans cesse à l’oeuvre.

Cet incessant combat est le mien autant qu’il est le vôtre.

Les plus jeunes d’entre nous, j’en suis heureux, sont sensibles à tout ce qui se rapporte à la Shoah. Ils veulent savoir. Et avec eux, désormais, de plus en plus de Français décidés à regarder bien en face leur passé.

La France, nous le savons tous, n’est nullement un pays antisémite.

En cet instant de recueillement et de souvenir, je veux faire le choix de l’espoir.

Je veux me souvenir que cet été 1942, qui révèle le vrai visage de la “collaboration”, dont le caractère raciste, après les lois anti-juives de 1940, ne fait plus de doute, sera, pour beaucoup de nos compatriotes, celui du sursaut, le point de départ d’un vaste mouvement de résistance.

Je veux me souvenir de toutes les familles juives traquées, soustraites aux recherches impitoyables de l’occupant et de la milice, par l’action héroïque et fraternelle de nombreuses familles françaises.

J’aime à penser qu’un mois plus tôt, à Bir Hakeim, les Français libres de Koenig avaient héroïquement tenu, deux semaines durant, face aux divisions allemandes et italiennes.

Certes, il y a les erreurs commises, il y a les fautes, il y a une faute collective. Mais il y a aussi la France, une certaine idée de la France, droite, généreuse, fidèle à ses traditions, à son génie. Cette France n’a jamais été à Vichy. Elle n’est plus, et depuis longtemps, à Paris. Elle est dans les sables libyens et partout où se battent des Français libres. Elle est à Londres, incarnée par le Général de Gaulle. Elle est présente, une et indivisible, dans le coeur de ces Français, ces “Justes parmi les nations” qui, au plus noir de la tourmente, en sauvant au péril de leur vie, comme l’écrit Serge Klarsfeld, les trois-quarts de la communauté juive résidant en France, ont donné vie à ce qu’elle a de meilleur. Les valeurs humanistes, les valeurs de liberté, de justice, de tolérance qui fondent l’identité française et nous obligent pour l’avenir.

Ces valeurs, celles qui fondent nos démocraties, sont aujourd’hui bafouées en Europe même, sous nos yeux, par les adeptes de la “purification ethnique”. Sachons tirer les leçons de l’Histoire. N’acceptons pas d’être les témoins passifs, ou les complices, de l’inacceptable.

C’est le sens de l’appel que j’ai lancé à nos principaux partenaires, à Londres, à Washington, à Bonn. Si nous le voulons, ensemble nous pouvons donner un coup d’arrêt à une entreprise qui détruit nos valeurs et qui, de proche en proche risque de menacer l’Europe tout entière.


Iran und die Grünen: “Joschkas Schatten”

April 12, 2010

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,
 
mit folgenden Worten kündigte Spiegel Online Kultur meinen Aufsatz über die grüne Iranpolitik an, den das Kulturmagazin perlentaucher.de heute veröffentlichte:
 
“Vor zehn Jahren fand auf Initiative der Grünen und der Böll-Stiftung die zu trauriger Berühmtheit gelangte Iran-Konferenz statt, die der Stärkung von Reformkräften im Regime dienen sollte. Diese wurden  nach ihrer Heimkehr festgenommen und zum Teil für Jahre ins Gefängnis gesteckt  und gefoltert.
Daran erinnert im Perlentaucher Matthias Küntzel. Joschka Fischer änderte nach diesem Debakel seine konziliante Haltung gegenüber dem Regime nicht um ein Iota und ließ es bei einer Einbestellung des Botschafters bewenden: “Außenminister  Fischer hielt sich ‘mit öffentlicher Kritik an den Urteilen zurück, um  den seit dem vergangenen Jahr verbesserten Beziehungen zu Iran nicht zu  schaden.’…

Mehr noch:

Das rot-grüne Regierungsbündnis legte Bundestagspräsident Wolfgang Thierse nahe, auf seine für Februar 2001 angesetzte  Reise nach Iran nicht zu verzichten. In Teheran angekommen, äußerte sich Thierse  über die Terrorurteile ‘zurückhaltend’. Mit umso mehr Verve kündigte er die Intensivierung der ‘politischen und wirtschaftlichen Kontakte mit Iran’ an.  Er werde sich insbesondere ‘dafür einsetzen, dass noch in diesem Jahr ein neues deutsch-iranisches Kulturabkommen geschlossen werde.’”
 
Perlentaucher.de veröffentlichte den Beitrag unter dem Titel “Von  der grünen Spielwiese in die Hölle”. Sie finden ihn hier.
 
Er ist jetzt unter dem Titel “Joschkas Schatten: Die Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung übergeht den 10. Jahrestag ihrer Iran-Konferenz”  auch auf meiner Homepage zu finden.
 
Noch ein Hinweis in eigener Sache:
 
Am Mittwoch, den 14. April 2010 werde ich mein Buchs über “Die Deutschen und der Iran” erstmals in Berlin präsentieren. An dem Podiumsgespräch  werden sich Dr. Oliver Thränert von der Stiftung  Wissenschaft und Politik sowie Axel Feuerherdt von Iran Free  Now beteiligen. Lale Süsskind, die Vorsitzenden der  Jüdischen Gemeinde in Berlin und Fathiyeh  Naghibzadeh von Stop the Bomb haben Grußworte angekündigt.

Veranstalter sind die Jüdische Gemeinde Berlin sowie die Kampagne Stop the Bomb. Ort: Centrum Judaicum, Oranienburgerstr.  28-30, Beginn um 18 Uhr.
 
Dr.Matthias Küntzel

Matthias Küntzel, geboren 1955, ist Politikwissenschaftler und Publizist. Von 1984 bis 1988 war Matthias Küntzel Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Bundestagsfraktion “Die Grünen”. 1991 promovierte er im Fachbereich Internationale Beziehungen der Universität Hamburg über die Atomwaffenpolitik der BRD. Seine Themenschwerpunkte sind Antisemitismus, islamischer Antisemitismus, die Beziehung zwischen Islamismus und Nationalsozialismus, der Iran sowie die deutsche und europäische Nahostpolitik. 2002 veröffentlichte er das Werk ‚Djihad und Judenhass, Über den neuen antijüdischen Krieg‘. Die englische Ausgabe wurde 2007 mit dem Grand Prize des London Book Festivals sowie 2008 mit der Goldmedaille des amerikanischen Independent Publisher Book Award für den Bereich Religion ausgezeichnet. 2009 erschien sein Buch „Die Deutschen und der Iran. Geschichte und Gegenwart einer verhängnisvollen Freundschaft“. Neben seiner publizistischen Tätigkeit forscht Matthias Küntzel an der Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


Iran: Prospects for Regime Change

April 1, 2010

As the Obama administration attempts to garner international support for strengthened sanctions against Iran, Iran continues to make progress in its nuclear program. Despite increased international attention, Iran continues to pose perhaps the greatest threat to peace of any country in the world.

The ongoing turmoil in Iran almost nine months after 2009′s fraudulent presidential election raises questions about the continued viability of the Iranian regime.

With the United States exploring sanctions at the United Nations and key members of Congress calling for increased support to the Iranian opposition, the Foreign Policy Initiative will host a half-day conference on “Iran: Prospects for Regime Change,” on Tuesday, April 6th.  Leading Iran experts will examine the state of the opposition and discuss U.S. policy options.

With a growing consensus in Washington that the actions of the Iranian regime make a negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear crisis unlikely, this timely conference will explore the prospects for change in Iran from within and what the United States should be doing to support Iran’s democrats and resolve the Iranian nuclear question once and for all.

Also, the ability of the regime to clamp down on the Green Movement in recent months, especially its efforts on February 11, have caused some outside observers to argue that Iran’s opposition movement has fizzled out roughly nine months after the election that brought thousands of protesters into the streets.  In the wake of last month’s events, many questions have been raised regarding the ability of the opposition to succeed against the regime’s brutal tactics.

***

The Foreign Policy Initiative
Iran: Prospects for Regime Change

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
(Rescheduled from February 11, 2010)
8:30AM – 12:00PM
1777 F Street NW

8:30 – 9:00        Registration and Breakfast
9:00 – 10:15      State of the Green Movement

Panelists: 
Reuel Gerecht, Foundation for Defense of Democracies 
Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute for Near East Policy 
Mohsen Sazegara, Research Institute for Contemporary Iran

Moderator: 
William Kristol, The Weekly Standard and The Foreign Policy Initiative

10:15 – 10:30     Break

10:30 – 12:00     U.S. Policy Options

Panelists:     
Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations 
Danielle Pletka, The American Enterprise Institute 
Ray Takeyh, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator: 
Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and  The Foreign Policy Initiative

For more information or to arrange an interview with Jamie Fly, head of the Foreign Policy Initiative, please contact MNS Publicity:

Sandy Schulz, (202) 244-1460 or sandy@mnspublicity.com


Unsung Hero of World War II: Hiram Bingham IV

March 7, 2010

An American Vice-Consul stationed in Marseille, France in 1940, Hiram Bingham IV defied U.S. policy and issued false life-saving visas for thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis, among them Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and the family of the writer Thomas Mann.

Even after Washington lost patience with him and shuffled him off to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1941, Bingham continued to annoy his superiors by reporting on the movements of Nazis there. Eventually, he was forced out of the American diplomatic service.

Because he went against U.S. policy, he never received national credit, and because he was a man of action and not of words, his story went with him when he died in 1988. That is until his son, Robert Kim Bingham Sr., 67, discovered some of his father’s documents hidden in the family farmhouse in Salem, Connecticut, and embarked on a journey to bring his father’s heroic story to light.

Hiram Bingham as young diplomat in Marseille

Hiram Bingham as young diplomat in Marseille

7 Questions: Unsung Hero
by Jenny Hazan, Canadian journalist and editor living in Tel Aviv

Jacques Bodner's visa issued by Hiram Bingham IV on Feb. 27, 1940

Jacques Bodner's visa issued by Hiram Bingham IV on Feb. 27, 1940

Q1: Describe the drama of discovering your father’s documents.

In 1996, eight years after my father’s death, my mom, a few of my 10 siblings and I started finding documents at the farmhouse in Salem. There were letters, visa papers, and photos from my father’s time in Marseille. Until then, our family was aware that he had a hand in the rescue of a handful of luminaries, but we had no idea of the scope of his activity, that he was sought out by thousands of people who went to him for their one last chance to live. We had no idea that he was sought out by thousands of people who went to him for their one last chance to live.

We found out that in addition to issuing false visas, he sheltered Jews in his home in Marseille and worked with the French underground to smuggle Jews out of France into Spain, or across the Mediterranean. He even contributed to their expenses out of his own pocket. I have heard estimates that he saved anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 people.

About five years ago, we found a letter to him from Leon Feuchtwanger, an anti-Nazi writer, thanking my father for hiding him and his wife Marta in my father’s residence for some six weeks while my father prepared a false visa for him under the name of ‘Wet Cheek’. Feuchtwanger had written the letter while on board the Excalibur, heading to New York City, and signed it ‘Mr. Wet Cheek’.

My mother and brother, Thomas, sent some of the Marseille documents to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and to Eric Saul, curator of the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats Project and the Jewish Rescuers Project, who should really be credited with bringing my father’s story to life.

Q2: How did the remembrance project get started?

In 1998 I went to Israel, on the 50th anniversary of the country, as part of a mission of diplomat children. I was very moved when I saw the exhibit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. My father had been singled out for special honor. It was the first time I was really struck by what he had done.

There were many people who were so grateful to him for what he did during the early days of the nightmare of the Holocaust, and many people stepped forward to tell me so. We heard wonderful stories in different parts of the country of righteous gentiles, and it was as though it was my father’s turn to be recognized. That trip to Israel is what triggered my whole incentive to go forward with the remembrance project.

Q3: What is the remembrance project?

The unveiling of postage stamps in honor of righteous diplomats at Yad Vashem gave me the idea to petition our own government to issue a stamp in honor of my father. I started a stamp drive in December, 1998, and in May, 2006, a stamp in honor of Harry Bingham IV was finally minted.

Forty representatives of government and 40 U.S. senators forwarded their support for the stamp to the Postmaster General. We had the entire legislature of Connecticut supporting the drive. It was a thrilling bipartisan experience for me.

My book, Courageous Dissent: How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives (2007) was part of the same effort.

Q4: What is your primary drive behind all of this?

For over 50 years, the U.S. State Department resisted any attempts to honor my father. To them, he was an insubordinate member of the U.S. diplomatic service.

At the same time, my father didn’t reveal any details. It was typical of diplomatic families that we traveled with that the fathers did not bring to light their activities to their children. I guess because it was such a terrible period and the memories must have been overwhelmingly negative, perhaps because of those they could not rescue.

Our family thought he deserved to be honored; he put humanity above his career.

For me personally, as a former government employee in the U.S. — I retired in July after 41 years of service as Inside Counsel to the Department of Homeland Security — it impressed upon me what my father had done.

Q5: What drove your father to take such risks?

He came from a long and illustrious line of risk-takers. His father, Hiram Bingham III — on whom the Hollywood character Indiana Jones is based — discovered the ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu, Peru in 1911.

My father was a deeply religious man who saw his role as saving lives during that nightmare. He felt tremendous compassion for human beings and that each person had a spark of divinity.

Q6: What is one of your fondest memories of your father?

He taught all of his 11 children that we should live according to the golden rule. One instance that made a deep impression on me goes way back to when I was six years old. We used to go to the beach in Connecticut, near an amusement park called Ocean Beach.

We were walking along the sand and snuck into the park without paying the three-cent ‘pedestrian fee’. When he found out he was very angry with us. It’s one of many examples of my father’s deep moral fiber.

Of course I loved my father. He was a wonderful father and we all adored him.

Q7: Is your father finally getting the recognition he deserves?

Besides the stamp, the State Department made a 180-degree turn in 2002 and Colin Powell invited our family to Washington to present us with a posthumous ‘Constructive Dissent’ award in my father’s honor. I was happy about that. He has also been honored by the United Nations and by the State of Israel. Yad Vashem opened an exhibit in his honor called ‘Harry’s Wall’.

But more than these things are the people who continue to come forward and tell us that our father saved their family. During the stamp drive, one 85-year-old lady told us that she and her sister were just teens when they got visas from my father.

Last October, one of my daughter’s professors at Harvard, the Dean of the Literature College, originally from Austria, told her that her grandfather had saved his family. The two of them cried together. It is very emotional. He is alive today because of my father. When we hear these stories, it comes very close to home.

Reprinted with kindly permission of Aish HaTorah International.


Dubai, Teheran und Frau Amirpur

March 6, 2010

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

als ich Dr. Peter Göpfrich, den Geschäftsführer der Deutsch-Emiratischen Industrie- und Handelskammer in Dubai vor wenigen Tagen anrief, reagierte dieser nicht nur freundlich, sondern geradezu dankbar. Dabei hatte ich kurz zuvor im Wall Street Journal seine Entlassung gefordert, weil er für die Einrichtung einer “Iran-Arbeitsgruppe” seiner Kammer verantwortlich war – einer Arbeitsgruppe, die laut Protokoll der Gründungssitzung den deutschen Handel mit Iran via Dubai ausweiten sollte.

In unserem Telefonat bezeichnete er das “Durchsickern” dieses Protokolls als “sehr ärgerlich” und “sehr peinlich” und freute sich, mir mitteilen zu können, dass die “Iran-Arbeitsgruppe” ihre Arbeit vorläufig eingestellt habe und die Protokollantin der Gründungssitzung entlassen worden sei.

Es ist zwar schön, wenn die Waffe des Worts auch mal Wirkung zeigt, doch ist das Problem damit nicht aus der Welt. Dies zeigt mein Beitrag zu dieser Affäre, den die WELT letzten Sonnabend veröffentlichte. Siehe hier.

Die Iran-Schlagzeilen der letzten Wochen erwecken den Eindruck, als gäbe es hierzulande nur noch Befürworter von harten Sanktionen gegen Iran.

Die Festlegung der Bundeskanzlerin -  “Wir wollen als Europäer alle [sanktionspolitischen] Schritte gemeinsam unternehmen.” (FAZ, 25. 02.2010)  - fiel hingegen unter den Tisch. Demnach sollen die “unwilligsten” Länder der EU über das Tempo und die Reichweite von Sanktionen entscheiden. Teheran wird dieses Signal zur Kenntnis genommen haben; auch deshalb ist mein Berliner Vortrag vom 29. November 2009 leider noch aktuell. Es steht seit gestern im Netz:    

http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/deutschland-die-mullahs-und-das-atom

Über meine Auseinandersetzung mit der Islamwissenschaftlerin und Publizistin Katajun Amirpur hatte ich vor einigen Wochen berichtet.

Wie ich erst jetzt erfuhr, stellte sie einen langen Brief, in dem sie ihre Attacken gegen mein Buch “Die Deutschen und der Iran” begründet, ins Netz. Hierzu mein Postskriptum auf:

http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/sachlich-hintergruendig-kritisch-und-nahe-am-menschen

Weshalb wurde Die Deutschen und der Iran nicht bereits Ende 2009 verboten???” fragt Nils von der Heyde, der einige Jahrzehnte als Reporter u.a. für das Deutsche Allgemeine Sonntagsblatt und die BILD tätig war. Hier ein Auszug aus seinem Brief:

“Ich habe während meiner 30 Jahre als politischer Journalist so manches erfahren und erlebt, über das ich nur andeutungsweise schreiben/publizieren konnte (durfte). Desto mehr hat mich Ihr Buch erschüttert.

Denke ich an das im Gesetz verankerte Widerspruchsrecht hinsichtlich öffentlich gemachter Texte, so frage ich mich: Weshalb wurde ,Die Deutschen und der Iran’ nicht bereits Ende 2009 verboten??? Die darin enthaltenen Anklagen sind so gravierend, dass ein Sturm der Entrüstung und ein von Anwälten entfachtes Feuerwerk an Gegendarstellungsanträgen die Folgen hätten sein müssen.

So kann ich nur sagen: Berlin sitzt aus. Nach der Devise: Wer liest das schon?

Ich hoffe, dass Tausende es lesen werden, und ich gebe Ihnen inhaltlich in ALLEN Punkten recht.”

Herzlich grüßt

Euer Dr. Matthias Küntzel


UN Goldstone Aide to Headline Palestinian Lobby Event

February 26, 2010

Geneva, February 26, 2010 UN Watch, the Geneva-based watchdog organization, today called on UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to stop Francesca Marotta, the head of the UN staff that compiled the Goldstone Report, from participating at a political lobbying event in Lausanne, Switzerland, in support of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine.”

The full letter follows below.

***

His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary-General
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017

February 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We are deeply concerned that the Head of the Secretariat of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict—the staff that drafted the Goldstone Report—is scheduled to participate tomorrow in a pro-Palestinian, political and lobbying event.

Ms. Francesca Marotta is listed as the first speaker at an event to support the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine,” advertised by Collectif Urgence Palestine, to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, tomorrow, 27 February, at 2:30 pm. (See listing at here.)

The advertisement reads (translated from French original):

“On the eve of the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine to be held in Barcelona from 1 to March 3, 2010, the Swiss National Committee of Support to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine Calls to support this international citizen initiative with Francesca Marotta, the Secretariat of the Fact-Finding Mission that established the Goldstone Report, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights…” It goes on to list two other speakers.

As you may know, the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” is a highly partisan and political exercise designed to use the rhetoric of law to lobby against Israel and for a one-sided Palestinian narrative. Its “verdict” is a foregone conclusion.

We further note that the Swiss organizer of this Lausanne event featuring Ms. Marotta, Collectif Urgence Palestine, organized a demonstration last year on 2 March 2009 in Geneva. (See here.) 

The demonstration’s stone throwing and verbal threats against Jewish community members was condemned as an apparently anti-Semitic incident by the UN Human Rights Committee, in its October 2009 report on Switzerland. (See here.)

Article 100 of the UN Charter requires that the UN Secretariat avoid partisan and political entanglements that compromise the principles of neutrality, objectivity and professionalism.

Especially on a day when the UN General Assembly is voting again on the Goldstone Report, we urge you to uphold these principles, and the integrity of your staff, by immediately instructing Ms. Marotta to avoid participating in, or otherwise lending support and legitimacy to, this partisan and political event.

Please know that in all your efforts to assure the adherence of the United Nation to its noble principles, you will have the full support of UN Watch.

Sincerely,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director
UN Watch
Geneva, Switzerland


Geneva Summit for Human Rights, March 8-9, 2010

February 3, 2010

Human rights NGOs from around the globe have joined hands to organize the 2nd Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.

To take place on March 8-9, 2010 – in parallel and to enhance the main annual session of the UN Human Rights Council – this unique assembly of renowned human rights defenders, dissidents and experts will feature victim testimonies, shine a spotlight on urgent human rights issues and situations, and call on governments to guarantee freedom of the internet for democracy and human rights activists.

INTERNET FREEDOM The Google-China Case, Censorship and Hacking: Entrepreneurs & Dissidents Debate

DEFENDING ETHNIC MINORITIES Rebiya Kadeer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Uighur human rights hero

ATROCITIES IN SUDAN Jan Pronk, former UN Secretary-General Special Representative in Sudan

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN Massouda Jalal, former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs, first female presidential candidate

THE FUTURE OF DISSENT Yang Jianli, 1989 Tiananmen Square Hero, founder of Foundation for China in the 21st Century

•THE BURMESE JUNTA vs. AUNG SAN SUU KYI  Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident and 2008 winner of Human Rights Watch Award

COMBATING CONTEMPORARY SLAVERY Simon Deng, former Sudanese Slave

OPPRESSION IN TIBET  Phuntsok Nyidron, Buddhist nun, longest-serving Tibetan political prisoner, jailed for recording songs of freedom, winner of 1995 Reebok Human Rights Award

NON-VIOLENT PROTEST Matteo Mecacci, Italian MP, OSCE Rapporteur on human rights and democracy, activist

REPRESSION IN LATIN AMERICA  Tamara Suju, Venezuelan human rights lawyer

PRISONER FROM BIRTH Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camp

•“DEFAMATION OF RELIGION” vs. FREE SPEECH Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General of Pakistan Press Foundation


6 Major Powers Move Closer to Considering More Iran Sanctions

January 18, 2010

Did You Know?

“The (Revolutionary Guard) corps’s two best-known subsidiaries are the secretive Quds Force, which has carried out operations in other countries, including the training and arming of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon; and the Basij militia. The Basiji includes millions of volunteer vigilantes used to crack down on election protests and dissidents,” according to The New York Times. 

Top Stories

The New York Times: “Six major powers agreed Saturday that the Iranian response to proposals to altering its nuclear development program had been inadequate and that it warranted consideration of further measures by the United Nations Security Council.  China, however, which sent a low-level diplomat to the meeting, maintained its position that it opposed new sanctions now.” 
 
The Associated Press (AP): “Iran’s interior minister is vowing to take revenge on Israel over the slaying last week of a physics professor in a mysterious bomb attack.  Iranian officials have blamed an exiled opposition group, accusing it of acting on behalf of Israel and the U.S. Washington denied involvement. Israel did not comment.” 

Reuters: “Iran has exchanged messages with major powers on its nuclear energy program and sees signs of progress, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday, despite Western attempts to impose more sanctions.”

Opinion
 
Los Angeles Times (LAT) Editorial Board
: “This week’s indictment of three Glendale men for allegedly smuggling vacuum pumps and other industrial equipment to Iran via the United Arab Emirates is the latest reminder of how easily and frequently U.S. trade sanctions against Tehran have been violated. The charges were reported as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany prepared to meet in New York today to discuss tougher economic measures for pressing Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.”


In Case You Missed It: Bloomberg on UANI’s Iran Disclosure Project

January 13, 2010

Indira Lakshmanan, in a Bloomberg column, highlighted the launch of UANI’s Iran Disclosure Project:
 
“Advocacy groups and 18 states including New York and Florida are trying to pressure businesses to leave Iran.  United Against Nuclear Iran is starting a campaign today that may include legal action, said Mark Wallace, president of the bipartisan New York-based organization, whose founders include James Woolsey, former Central Intelligence Agency chief.
 
“The group wants to compel companies to disclose in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings the financial risks to their Iranian business operations from political unrest and possible new sanctions. The first target is Royal Dutch Shell, the British-Dutch energy company headquartered in The Hague, Wallace said.
 
“Shell spokesman David Williams said if there’s international agreement on new sanctions, the company will comply.”
 
The column was featured on Business Week, Real Clear World and ABC’s The Note’s Must-Reads.  The piece was also translated into Farsi in Iran.
 
The Iran Disclosure Project is an initiative to identify publicly-traded companies that have business dealings in Iran and ensure that such companies adequately inform investors of the legal and financial peril associated with such dealings.  UANI calls on Royal Dutch Shell to disclose to its investors the full nature and extent of its activities in and the inherent risks of doing business in Iran.
 
Click here to send a message to Royal Dutch Shell
Click here to read the article in its entirety
Click here to learn more about the Iran Disclosure Project

Press Contact: Kimmie Lipscomb
press@unitedagainstnucleariran.com
Phone: (212) 554-3296

Irans Willige Helferin der Anti-Israel-Lobby in deutschen Medien: “Journalistin” Katajun Amirpur oder wenn Angst vor der Wahrheit die Feder führt

January 10, 2010
Journalisten: Leute, die ein Leben lang darüber nachdenken, welchen Beruf sie eigentlich verfehlt haben. (Mark Twain)

Lieber Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

Frau Katajun Amirpur ist eine renommierte deutsch-iranische Journalistin und Islamwissenschaftlerin, die u.a. für die Süddeutsche Zeitung, die ZEIT und die taz publiziert.

Nach zahlreichen guten bis sehr guten Rezensionen über mein Buch “Die Deutschen und der Iran” (die meisten davon sind auf meiner Homepage dokumentiert) formulierte Frau Amirpur den ersten “Verriss”.

Ich nehme ihre Rezension auch deshalb ernst, weil sie der verbreiteten Haltung, die deutsch-iranischen Sonderbeziehungen trotz aller Menschenrechtsverletzungen und atomarer Ambitionen unkritisch weiterlaufen zu lassen, entgegenkommt.

Hier finden Sie Ihre Kritik.

und dort meine Erwiderung.

Die Evangelische Akademie Bad Boll hat mittlerweile den Vortrag über “Djihad und Judenhass”, den ich dort Ende November 2009 hielt, als Online-Text veröffentlicht.

Sie finden diese Veröffentlichung hier.

Mit den besten Grüßen

Euer Dr. Matthias Küntzel


British Army Hero Tells UN Human Rights Council: ‘Israeli Defense Forces Most Moral Army in History of Warfare’

October 16, 2009

Today’s emergency United Nations Human Rights Council debate in Geneva on the Goldstone Report predictably saw a line-up of the world’s worst abusers condemn democratic Israel for human rights violations.

In a heated lynch mob atmosphere, Kuwait slammed Israel for “intentional killing, intentional destruction of civilian objects, intentional scorched-earth policy”, saying Israel “embodied the Agatha Christie novel, ‘Escaped with Murder’. Pakistan said the “horrors of Israeli occupation continue to haunt the international community’s conscience.” The Arab League said, “We must condemn Israel and force Israel to accept international legitimacy.” Ahmadinejad’s Iran said “the atrocities committed against Palestinians during the aggressions on Gaza should be taken seriously” and followed up by the international community “to put an end to absolute impunity and defiance of the law.”

What the world’s assembled representatives did not expect, however, was the speech that followed (see video and text below), organized by UN Watch. The speaker is a man who repeatedly put his life on the line to defend the democratic world from the murderous Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. The moment he began his first sentence, the room simply fell silent. Judge Goldstone, author of the biased report that prompted today’s one-sided condemnation, had refused to hear Colonel Kemp’s testimony during his “fact-finding” hearings.

But UN Watch made sure today that this hero’s voice would be heard – at the United Nations, and around the world.

***

UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special Session
Debate on Goldstone Report – Geneva, October 16, 2009

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare

Colonel Richard Kemp served in the British Army from 1977 - 2006.
Colonel Richard Kemp served in the British Army from 1977 – 2006.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Boycott Ahmadinejad’s speech at the United Nations!

September 15, 2009

Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war. (1938, Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlain in the House of Commons, after the Munich accords)

An Open Letter to His Excellency Ambassador Thomas Matussek Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations

by Narcisse Caméléon, deputy editor-in-chief HIRAM7 REVIEW

Excellency,

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has announced his intention to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York later this month.

We are writing to express our concern that President Ahmadinejad be allowed to abuse the platform of the UN to propagate hate, to spread false accusations against other members of the UN, and to hijack the agenda of the UN, as he has done recently at other UN conferences.

The government of Iran is in defiance of several sets of UN sanctions, has failed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and might soon be capable of building an atomic bomb.

The Iranian government is also defying the will of its own people. People are imprisoned for their political beliefs, and women and religious minorities are being oppressed and persecuted. President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, spread anti-Semitic libels, and threatened to wipe Israel off the map. He regularly incites to genocide.

Should President Ahmadinejad once again show complete disregard for the UN Charter we would respectfully ask that Germany’s delegation absent itself from the meeting for the duration of his address, in order not to dignify his remarks with the presence of a modern and liberal democracy like Germany.

Remember Munich 1938. No apeasement with ennemies of democracy!

Yours sincerely,

Narcisse Caméléon


Criticism of UN Human Rights Council

August 18, 2009

Seventy-four nongovernmental organizations called for an end to a bloc system that they say allows countries guilty of human rights abuses to hold seats on the UN Human Rights Council.

“We call on all UN member states to bring vote trading arrangements and uncompetitive elections for the council to an end. The credibility of the council and its ability to respond to human rights violations hang in the balance,” the NGOs declared.

The statement comes a month before the Human Rights Council opens its fall session in Geneva.

Read full story.


The targeting of Israel and Darfur by the Arab world

August 2, 2009

by Dr. Kenneth Levin

The world’s media have given scant coverage lately to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and – despite extensive reporting on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict – they have likewise offered little on the continuing campaign of genocidal incitement against Israel by her enemies.

While seeming very separate issues, the two campaigns, and the choice by media and world leaders largely to ignore both, are, in fact, connected.

On one level, of course, the connection is obvious. Israel-hatred is spearheaded by the Arab world; in virtually every Arab nation, demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel, and often of Jews, is a staple of government-controlled media, schools and mosques. This is true even of the Arab states with which Israel is formally at peace. At the same time, the Arab world is the chief support of fellow Arab leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Sudanese regime’s genocidal assault on the Muslim blacks of Darfur. Illustrative was the Arab League’s unanimous, effusive embrace and defense of al-Bashir at its meeting in Doha, Qatar, in March, shortly after his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Efforts at mass murder directed at Israel and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur flow from the same mindset.

Tunisian human rights activist Mohammed Bechri several years ago argued that to understand Arab support for the genocide in Darfur, one has to recognize the “twin fascisms” – Bechri’s term – that dominate the Arab world: Islamism and Pan-Arabism. The first rejects the legitimacy of any non-Muslim group within what the Arabs perceive as their proper domain; the latter takes the same view towards any non-Arab group. The genocidal rhetoric, and efforts at mass murder, directed at Israel, and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur follow from this mindset. (Bechri’s “twin fascisms” also account for the besiegement of Christians across the Arab world and backing for Sudan’s murder of some two million Christian and animist blacks in the south of the country. They help explain as well broad Arab support for the mass murder of Kurds – a Muslim but non-Arab people – in Iraq by Saddam Hussein and for the besiegement of the Kurds of Syria and the Berbers – another non-Arab Muslim group – in Algeria.)

But the connection between animosity towards Israel and coldness towards the victims in Darfur extends beyond the Arab world. It embraces, for example, all those European leaders who bend their consciences to accommodate Arab power – in oil, money and strategic territories – and who may pay lip service to recognizing the murderous incitement and related threats faced by Israel or to deploring the crimes suffered by Darfur but refuse to take serious steps to curb either.

Nor are American leaders entirely free of similar predilections. President Bush (43) was certainly sympathetic to Israel’s predicament. But he sought to assuage Arab opinion by pushing for rapid movement towards a Palestinian state and endorsing Machmoud Abbas as Israel’s “peace” partner, even as Abbas refused to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, consistently praised anti-Israel terror and stood fast in demanding a “right of return” that would turn Israel into yet another Arab-dominated entity. (On Darfur, the “moderate” Abbas responded to the ICC indictment by declaring, “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir.”) Regarding Darfur, President Bush led the way in condemning Sudan’s campaign of mass murder and rape and first calling it a genocide. But — already attacked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — he was not prepared to act aggressively against a third Muslim nation, even though doing so would have been aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives.

President Obama has adopted winning over Arab and broader Muslim opinion as a foreign policy priority and he has shown little interest in according more than verbal acknowledgment to the threats facing Israel. At the same time, those in the Muslim world whose good opinion he is most seeking to win are not the Muslims of Darfur but rather Darfur’s oppressors and their supporters. Some of President Obama’s ardent backers have expressed dismay, and have been openly critical of him, for what they see as his reneging on campaign pledges to put Darfur at the top of his agenda. (For example, Kirsten Powers, “Bam’s Darfur Sins,” in the New York Post, May 11, 2009). But given his focus on appeasing Muslims hostile to America, his inaction on Darfur should not surprise.

In major Western media as well, deference to Arab opinion vis-a-vis Israel has generally been accompanied by silence on the central role of the Arab world in providing support for Sudan’s actions in Darfur. While the Arab League’s embrace in Doha of Sudanese President al-Bashir was widely reported, few major outlets offered editorial criticism of the Arab stance — The Washington Post being a notable exception. The New York Times, which for decades has used both “news stories” and editorials to argue that Israeli concessions are the key to peace and has refused to cover the genocidal incitement against Israel and Jews endemic in Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools, offered no editorial opinion on the Doha meeting.

Kristoff generally avoided the Arab role in supporting the genocide.

Several years ago, the Times‘ Nicholas Kristof won a Pulitzer Prize for his op-ed coverage of the slaughter in Darfur. Kristof is a constant critic of Israel and, like his bosses, avoids the issue of rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, and promotion of genocidal hatred towards the Jewish state, by its Arab neighbors. In a similar vein, for all his extensive writing on Darfur, he generally avoided the Arab role in supporting the genocide. In some forty op-eds on Darfur published between March, 2004, and April, 2006, shortly after he won the Pulitzer, Kristof devoted only five sentences to Arab backing of the Sudanese regime, and that in an article focused on China’s shameful complicity in Darfur.

But if all this not is very surprising, there are also more curious aspects to the convergence of animosity, often of murderous dimensions, towards Israel and sympathy for, or at least indulgence of, those who perpetrate the genocide in Darfur.

For example, while Egypt has not overtly broken with the unanimous Arab League support for al-Bashir, Egyptian President Mubarak chose not to attend the Doha conference, and he and some other Arab leaders have been worried about the Islamist Sudanese regime’s close ties to Iran and to Iran’s radical Arab allies, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Yet a number of Western leaders, who advocate “dialogue” with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, prefer to ignore their genocidal agenda towards Israel and their leading role in aiding Sudan’s genocidal government – in effect, outpacing Egyptian backing of al-Bashir by soft-pedaling the role in Sudan of those most supportive of al-Bashir’s murderous regime.

Iran has long given extensive financial assistance to the Sudanese government, has provided its forces with weapons and training and has underwritten Chinese provision of arms to al-Bashir. Sudan, again with Iran serving as financier and mid-wife, has also been a training ground for Hamas, fostering as well an ongoing cross-fertilization between Hamas and the militias responsible for the Darfur genocide. Hezbollah and Syria have likewise been in the forefront of Sudan’s supporters and enablers.

Following the International Criminal Court’s action against al-Bashir, a delegation of his radical allies quickly arrived in Khartoum in a show of solidarity with their indicted brother. It included the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, Syrian parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash and an official of Hezbollah. Hamas also sponsored a large pro-Sudan march in Gaza.

But inevitably, Khartoum’s allies’ contributions to the Darfur genocide, like their promotion of genocide vis-a-vis Israel, are ignored by those eager for diplomatic engagement with them.

Also in early March, around the time of the ICC indictment, the British Foreign Office, led by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, announced its agreement to talks with Hezbollah. More recently, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have met with Hezbollah representatives. Hezbollah head Nasrallah’s commitment to the murder of all Jews – as in his 2002 statement that “if [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide” (in the past Hezbollah has gone after them as far afield as in Argentina) – was hardly something Miliband and the Foreign Office, or the Quai D’Orsay, or Solana and the European Union, or those British and continental media sympathetic to Hezbollah, were about to note. Nor were they going to note Hezbollah’s support for Sudan’s policies in Darfur.

Similarly, those many European leaders promoting engagement with Hamas typically avoid acknowledging Hamas’s call in its charter for the slaughter of all Jews, its teaching Palestinian children – in its schools and on children’s television – that Jews are eternal enemies of Islam and must be annihilated, and its other purveying of genocidal Jew-hatred. In April, the Dutch Labor party demanded that the European Union sanction Israel if it refuses to accept Hamas as a negotiating partner. Dutch Labor party leaders and like-minded European politicians, in their efforts to push acceptance of Hamas, soft-pedal its aims regarding Israelis and Jews and likewise say little about Hamas’s support of and contributions to Sudan’s genocidal assault on the blacks of Darfur.

European media that are hostile to Israel also virtually ignore Hamas’s genocidal policies and actions regarding both Israel and Darfur. British news outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent, which had barely covered years of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli communities, or Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for its attacks, but excoriated Israel when it responded with its assault on Hamas beginning in December, 2008, are likewise essentially silent regarding Hamas’s promotion of mass murder in Israel and support for mass murder in Darfur. The same is true for myriad news outlets on the Continent.

Most American political leaders have shunned Hamas for its commitment — in words and deeds – to Israel’s destruction and for its genocidal agenda. (There are some notable exceptions such as Jimmy Carter, who has met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and urged including Hamas in “peace” talks.) But many American media organizations, particularly those, like the New York Times, most committed to portraying Israeli policy as the major obstacle to peace, have followed their European counterparts in saying little of Hamas’s genocidal policies regarding Jews or of its support for Sudan’s genocidal policies in Darfur.

Even people whom one might expect to identify most closely with the victims of the Darfur genocide often do nothing, or limit their actions to words, or actually lend support to the perpetrators, in large part because of pro-Arab sympathies or hostility to Israel. Congress has one Muslim black representative, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, and Ellison has at times spoken out against the Darfur genocide. In April, for example, he joined a protest at the Sudanese embassy in Washington and was arrested along with other demonstrators. But Ellison has consistently supported pro-Hamas groups in America. He also aggressively embraced the Hamas line in last winter’s Gaza War in terms of alleged civilian casualties and Israeli misdeeds while remaining silent on Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for attacks on Israel. Ellison has likewise never publicly addressed Hamas’s alliance with Sudan and its backing of Sudanese policies in Darfur. Alignment with those arrayed against Israel seems to trump criticism of those arrayed against Darfur for the Minnesota congressman.

The major force driving genocidal agendas toward Israel and Darfur is, again, Arab supremacism. It is abetted in the wider world by power politics, as well as by, in many quarters, a twisted ideological allegiance whose credo requires that hostility to the Jewish state and consequent sympathy for, or prettifying of, those dedicated to her destruction trumps sympathy for Darfur and criticism of those participating in its people’s annihilation. The overall result is that powerful links between murderous hatred towards Israel and support for, or at least accommodation of, genocide in Darfur are a fixture of today’s geopolitics and go largely unchallenged.

A longer version of this article originally appeared on www.frontpagemag.com.

Reprinted with kindly permission of Aish HaTorah International.


Iran’s New Revolution

June 10, 2009

Iran entered its final day of campaigning before its presidential elections tomorrow. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s challengers held rival protests in the city, criticizing the president for his crackdowns on personal freedoms and his troubles managing Iran’s struggling economy.

Several media have noted that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s challengers, mostly the reformists Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, once appeared pretty weak but seem to have gained momentum in recent weeks. It remains to be seen, of course, whether any of the challengers stands a chance of unseating the president. Some analysts have predicted that Mousavi and Karroubi will split the reformist vote, undermining one another.

The Economist says the results of the vote could hinge primarily on voter turnout, with higher turnout benefiting the reformists. The piece notes that recent televised debates seem to have energized Iranians “as much as any [election] since the Islamic revolution of 1979.”

The New York Times reports the state of the Iranian economy has emerged as a defining issue ahead of the vote.

EurasiaNet has an analysis arguing that Ahmadinejad may be trying to foment a “revolution within the Islamic Revolution” in hopes of establishing a “neoconservative dictatorship with the blessing of the country’s spiritual leader.” The problem, the article says, is that Ahmadinejad’s opponents are stronger than the Iranian president once thought.

Foreign Policy has a special report on the elections questioning whether a new revolution might be taking place.

Read full story.


Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act

June 9, 2009

U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff (Democrats – California) and Mike Pence (Republicans – Indiana), recently introduced legislation in the U.S. Congress to highlight and promote freedom of the press worldwide.

The legislation will establish an annual State Department report on the status of press freedom in every country in the world and create a grant program aimed at broadening and strengthening the independence of journalists and media organizations.

“I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Daniel Pearl,” Pence said. “This legislation takes valuable steps in highlighting and supporting the critical work of investigative journalism, while putting on notice those countries who choose to ignore the freedom of the press…”

Read full story.


Abu Ghraib: U.S. criticizes British press over report of abuse photos

May 29, 2009

Five years after photos initially surfaced of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib detention center in Iraq, the photos taken at the camp are again at issue after a former U.S. army major general alleged to the British paper the Telegraph that additional, unreleased photos show U.S. soldiers raping inmates.

Here is the Telegraph article.

The White House press secretary said the story got many details wrong. So too did the Pentagon.

President Barack Obama has reversed his initial position that he would release all remaining photos, saying that the photos are graphic and would put U.S. and British troops in danger.

Editor of The Paris Review and former staff writer of The New Yorker Philip Gourevitch, writing in the New York Times, argues that Obama’s decision not to release the photos should be viewed differently from the George W. Bush administration’s initial denials of torture at Abu Ghraib. 

Read full story.


Political Battles Over Guantanamo

May 22, 2009

Yesterday the political battles in Washington D.C. over the closure of Guantanamo detention center heated up. President Barack Obama has reinforced his call to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, saying its flaws have weakened national security. But opponents say the camp has made the United States safer and predict legislative obstacles on transferring detainees.

President Barack Obama delivered a speech laying out in general terms his plan to close Guantanamo and his argument for balancing transparency with national security. Former Vice President Richard B. Cheney immediately followed up in a speech at the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), suggesting one aspect of Obama’s plan – bringing Guantanamo prisoners to U.S. soil – may never pass congressional muster. The speeches came in the wake of a recent decision by Senate Democrats refusing to release funds for the closure of Guantanamo.

***

Here is President Barack Obama’s speech.

THE WHITE HOUSE – Office of the Press Secretary
______________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                          May 21, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL SECURITY

National Archives, Washington D.C., 10:28 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Please be seated. Thank you all for being here. Let me just acknowledge the presence of some of my outstanding Cabinet members and advisors. We’ve got our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. We have our CIA Director Leon Panetta. We have our Secretary of Defense William Gates; Secretary Napolitano of Department of Homeland Security; Attorney General Eric Holder; my National Security Advisor Jim Jones. And I want to especially thank our Acting Archivist of the United States, Adrienne Thomas.

I also want to acknowledge several members of the House who have great interest in intelligence matters. I want to thank Congressman Reyes, Congressman Hoekstra, Congressman King, as well as Congressman Thompson, for being here today. Thank you so much.

These are extraordinary times for our country. We’re confronting a historic economic crisis. We’re fighting two wars. We face a range of challenges that will define the way that Americans will live in the 21st century. So there’s no shortage of work to be done, or responsibilities to bear.

And we’ve begun to make progress. Just this week, we’ve taken steps to protect American consumers and homeowners, and to reform our system of government contracting so that we better protect our people while spending our money more wisely. The – it’s a good bill. The engines of our economy are slowly beginning to turn, and we’re working towards historic reform on health care and on energy.  I want to say to the members of Congress, I welcome all the extraordinary work that has been done over these last four months on these and other issues.

In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe.  It’s the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning.  It’s the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.

And this responsibility is only magnified in an era when an extremist ideology threatens our people, and technology gives a handful of terrorists the potential to do us great harm.  We are less than eight years removed from the deadliest attack on American soil in our history.  We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again.  We know that this threat will be with us for a long time, and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it.

Already, we’ve taken several steps to achieve that goal.  For the first time since 2002, we’re providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’re investing in the 21st century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. We have re-energized a global non-proliferation regime to deny the world’s most dangerous people access to the world’s deadliest weapons. And we’ve launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years.  We’re better protecting our border, and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster. We’re building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world.

These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – these are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality, and dignity around the world.

I stand here today as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to these shores in search of the promise that they offered. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn their truths when I lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words – “to form a more perfect union.” I’ve studied the Constitution as a student, I’ve taught it as a teacher, I’ve been bound by it as a lawyer and a legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never, ever, turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset – in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.

Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.

It’s the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they’d receive better treatment from America’s Armed Forces than from their own government.

It’s the reason why America has benefitted from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp, moral contrast with our adversaries.

It’s the reason why we’ve been able to overpower the iron fist of fascism and outlast the iron curtain of communism, and enlist free nations and free peoples everywhere in the common cause and common effort of liberty.

From Europe to the Pacific, we’ve been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and our institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.

After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era – that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.

Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.  Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us – Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens – fell silent.

In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach – one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Now let me be clear:  We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable – a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass. And that’s why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people.

First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America.

I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence.  I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What’s more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world.  They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts – they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.

Now, I should add, the arguments against these techniques did not originate from my administration. As Senator McCain once said, torture “serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.” And even under President Bush, there was recognition among members of his own administration – including a Secretary of State, other senior officials, and many in the military and intelligence community – that those who argued for these tactics were on the wrong side of the debate, and the wrong side of history. That’s why we must leave these methods where they belong – in the past. They are not who we are, and they are not America.

The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo.  During that time, the system of military commissions that were in place at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that:  three convictions in over seven years. Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setback after setback, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system. Meanwhile, over 525 detainees were released from Guantanamo under not my administration, under the previous administration. Let me repeat that:  Two-thirds of the detainees were released before I took office and ordered the closure of Guantanamo.

There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law – a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause.  Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That’s why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign, and that is why I ordered it closed within one year.

The third decision that I made was to order a review of all pending cases at Guantanamo. I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we don’t have the luxury of starting from scratch. We’re cleaning up something that is, quite simply, a mess – a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my administration is forced to deal with on a constant, almost daily basis, and it consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.

Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks here in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release 17 Uighurs – 17 Uighur detainees took place last fall, when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents – not wild -eyed liberals. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.

Now let me be blunt. There are no neat or easy answers here. I wish there were. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. I refuse to pass it on to somebody else. It is my responsibility to solve the problem. Our security interests will not permit us to delay. Our courts won’t allow it. And neither should our conscience.

Now, over the last several weeks, we’ve seen a return of the politicization of these issues that have characterized the last several years. I’m an elected official; I understand these problems arouse passions and concerns. They should. We’re confronting some of the most complicated questions that a democracy can face. But I have no interest in spending all of our time relitigating the policies of the last eight years. I’ll leave that to others. I want to solve these problems, and I want to solve them together as Americans.

And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I’ve heard words that, frankly, are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country. So I want to take this opportunity to lay out what we are doing, and how we intend to resolve these outstanding issues. I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build a framework that protects both the American people and the values that we hold most dear. And I’ll focus on two broad areas:  first, issues relating to Guantanamo and our detention policy; but, second, I also want to discuss issues relating to security and transparency.

Now, let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people. Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders – namely, highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety. 

As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following face: Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Republican Lindsey Graham said, the idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.

We are currently in the process of reviewing each of the detainee cases at Guantanamo to determine the appropriate policy for dealing with them. And as we do so, we are acutely aware that under the last administration, detainees were released and, in some cases, returned to the battlefield. That’s why we are doing away with the poorly planned, haphazard approach that let those detainees go in the past. Instead we are treating these cases with the care and attention that the law requires and that our security demands.

Now, going forward, these cases will fall into five distinct categories.

First, whenever feasible, we will try those who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts – courts provided for by the United States Constitution. Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and our juries, our citizens, are tough enough to convict terrorists. The record makes that clear.  Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center. He was convicted in our courts and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prisons. Zacarias Moussaoui has been identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker. He was convicted in our courts, and he too is serving a life sentence in prison. If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo.

Recently, we prosecuted and received a guilty plea from a detainee, al-Marri, in federal court after years of legal confusion. We’re preparing to transfer another detainee to the Southern District Court of New York, where he will face trial on charges related to the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania – bombings that killed over 200 people. Preventing this detainee from coming to our shores would prevent his trial and conviction. And after over a decade, it is time to finally see that justice is served, and that is what we intend to do.

The second category of cases involves detainees who violate the laws of war and are therefore best tried through military commissions. Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; they allow for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot always be effectively presented in federal courts.

Now, some have suggested that this represents a reversal on my part. They should look at the record. In 2006, I did strongly oppose legislation proposed by the Bush administration and passed by the Congress because it failed to establish a legitimate legal framework, with the kind of meaningful due process rights for the accused that could stand up on appeal.

I said at that time, however, that I supported the use of military commissions to try detainees, provided there were several reforms, and in fact there were some bipartisan efforts to achieve those reforms. Those are the reforms that we are now making. Instead of using the flawed commissions of the last seven years, my administration is bringing our commissions in line with the rule of law.  We will no longer permit the use of evidence – as evidence statements that have been obtained using cruel, inhuman, or degrading interrogation methods. We will no longer place the burden to prove that hearsay is unreliable on the opponent of the hearsay. And we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel, and more protections if they refuse to testify. These reforms, among others, will make our military commissions a more credible and effective means of administering justice, and I will work with Congress and members of both parties, as well as legal authorities across the political spectrum, on legislation to ensure that these commissions are fair, legitimate, and effective.

The third category of detainees includes those who have been ordered released by the courts. Now, let me repeat what I said earlier: This has nothing to do with my decision to close Guantanamo. It has to do with the rule of law. The courts have spoken. They have found that there’s no legitimate reason to hold 21 of the people currently held at Guantanamo. Nineteen of these findings took place before I was sworn into office. I cannot ignore these rulings because as President, I too am bound by the law. The United States is a nation of laws and so we must abide by these rulings.

The fourth category of cases involves detainees who we have determined can be transferred safely to another country. So far, our review team has approved 50 detainees for transfer. And my administration is in ongoing discussions with a number of other countries about the transfer of detainees to their soil for detention and rehabilitation.

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here – this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture – like other prisoners of war – must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. And other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.

Now, as our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These are issues that are fodder for 30-second commercials. You can almost picture the direct mail pieces that emerge from any vote on this issue – designed to frighten the population. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future. 

I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution – so did each and every member of Congress. And together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future Presidents to keep this country safe.

Now, let me touch on a second set of issues that relate to security and transparency. 

National security requires a delicate balance. One the one hand, our democracy depends on transparency. On the other hand, some information must be protected from public disclosure for the sake of our security – for instance, the movement of our troops, our intelligence-gathering, or the information we have about a terrorist organization and its affiliates. In these and other cases, lives are at stake.

Now, several weeks ago, as part of an ongoing court case, I released memos issued by the previous administration’s Office of Legal Counsel. I did not do this because I disagreed with the enhanced interrogation techniques that those memos authorized, and I didn’t release the documents because I rejected their legal rationales – although I do on both counts. I released the memos because the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known, the Bush administration had acknowledged its existence, and I had already banned those methods. The argument that somehow by releasing those memos we are providing terrorists with information about how they will be interrogated makes no sense. We will not be interrogating terrorists using that approach. That approach is now prohibited.

In short, I released these memos because there was no overriding reason to protect them. And the ensuing debate has helped the American people better understand how these interrogation methods came to be authorized and used.

On the other hand, I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated and they have been held accountable. There was and is no debate as to whether what is reflected in those photos is wrong. Nothing has been concealed to absolve perpetrators of crimes. However, it was my judgment – informed by my national security team – that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning, and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of war.

In short, there is a clear and compelling reason to not release these particular photos. There are nearly 200,000 Americans who are serving in harm’s way, and I have a solemn responsibility for their safety as Commander-in-Chief. Nothing would be gained by the release of these photos that matters more than the lives of our young men and women serving in harm’s way.

Now, in the press’s mind and in some of the public’s mind, these two cases are contradictory. They are not to me. In each of these cases, I had to strike the right balance between transparency and national security. And this balance brings with it a precious responsibility. There’s no doubt that the American people have seen this balance tested over the last several years. In the images from Abu Ghraib and the brutal interrogation techniques made public long before I was President, the American people learned of actions taken in their name that bear no resemblance to the ideals that generations of Americans have fought for. And whether it was the run-up to the Iraq war or the revelation of secret programs, Americans often felt like part of the story had been unnecessarily withheld from them. And that caused suspicion to build up. And that leads to a thirst for accountability.

I understand that. I ran for President promising transparency, and I meant what I said. And that’s why, whenever possible, my administration will make all information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. But I have never argued – and I never will — that our most sensitive national security matters should simply be an open book.  I will never abandon – and will vigorously defend – the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war, to protect sources and methods, and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. Here’s the difference though: Whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions – by Congress or by the courts.

We’re currently launching a review of current policies by all those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible, and to assure that the other branches of government will be in a position to review executive branch decisions on these matters. Because in our system of checks and balances, someone must always watch over the watchers – especially when it comes to sensitive administration – information.

Now, along these same lines, my administration is also confronting challenges to what is known as the “state secrets” privilege. This is a doctrine that allows the government to challenge legal cases involving secret programs. It’s been used by many past Presidents – Republican and Democrat – for many decades. And while this principle is absolutely necessary in some circumstances to protect national security, I am concerned that it has been over-used. It is also currently the subject of a wide range of lawsuits. So let me lay out some principles here.  We must not protect information merely because it reveals the violation of a law or embarrassment to the government. And that’s why my administration is nearing completion of a thorough review of this practice.

And we plan to embrace several principles for reform. We will apply a stricter legal test to material that can be protected under the state secrets privilege. We will not assert the privilege in court without first following our own formal process, including review by a Justice Department committee and the personal approval of the Attorney General. And each year we will voluntarily report to Congress when we have invoked the privilege and why because, as I said before, there must be proper oversight over our actions.

On all these matters related to the disclosure of sensitive information, I wish I could say that there was some simple formula out there to be had. There is not. These often involve tough calls, involve competing concerns, and they require a surgical approach. But the common thread that runs through all of my decisions is simple: We will safeguard what we must to protect the American people, but we will also ensure the accountability and oversight that is the hallmark of our constitutional system. I will never hide the truth because it’s uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don’t know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why.

Now, in all the areas that I’ve discussed today, the policies that I’ve proposed represent a new direction from the last eight years. To protect the American people and our values, we’ve banned enhanced interrogation techniques. We are closing the prison at Guantanamo. We are reforming military commissions, and we will pursue a new legal regime to detain terrorists. We are declassifying more information and embracing more oversight of our actions, and we’re narrowing our use of the state secrets privilege. These are dramatic changes that will put our approach to national security on a surer, safer, and more sustainable footing. Their implementation will take time, but they will get done.

There’s a core principle that we will apply to all of our actions. Even as we clean up the mess at Guantanamo, we will constantly reevaluate our approach, subject our decisions to review from other branches of government, as well as the public. We seek the strongest and most sustainable legal framework for addressing these issues in the long term – not to serve immediate politics, but to do what’s right over the long term. By doing that we can leave behind a legacy that outlasts my administration, my presidency, that endures for the next President and the President after that – a legacy that protects the American people and enjoys a broad legitimacy at home and abroad.

Now, this is what I mean when I say that we need to focus on the future. I recognize that many still have a strong desire to focus on the past. When it comes to actions of the last eight years, passions are high. Some Americans are angry; others want to re-fight debates that have been settled, in some cases debates that they have lost. I know that these debates lead directly, in some cases, to a call for a fuller accounting, perhaps through an independent commission.

I’ve opposed the creation of such a commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws or miscarriages of justice.

It’s no secret there is a tendency in Washington to spend our time pointing fingers at one another. And it’s no secret that our media culture feeds the impulse that lead to a good fight and good copy. But nothing will contribute more than that than a extended relitigation of the last eight years. Already, we’ve seen how that kind of effort only leads those in Washington to different sides to laying blame. It can distract us from focusing our time, our efforts, and our politics on the challenges of the future.

We see that, above all, in the recent debate – how the recent debate has obscured the truth and sends people into opposite and absolutist ends. On the one side of the spectrum, there are those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism, and would almost never put national security over transparency. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who embrace a view that can be summarized in two words:  “Anything goes.” Their arguments suggest that the ends of fighting terrorism can be used to justify any means, and that the President should have blanket authority to do whatever he wants – provided it is a President with whom they agree.

Both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right. The American people are not absolutist, and they don’t elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems. They know that we need not sacrifice our security for our values, nor sacrifice our values for our security, so long as we approach difficult questions with honesty and care and a dose of common sense. That, after all, is the unique genius of America. That’s the challenge laid down by our Constitution. That has been the source of our strength through the ages. That’s what makes the United States of America different as a nation.

I can stand here today, as President of the United States, and say without exception or equivocation that we do not torture, and that we will vigorously protect our people while forging a strong and durable framework that allows us to fight terrorism while abiding by the rule of law. Make no mistake: If we fail to turn the page on the approach that was taken over the past several years, then I will not be able to say that as President. And if we cannot stand for our core values, then we are not keeping faith with the documents that are enshrined in this hall.

The Framers who drafted the Constitution could not have foreseen the challenges that have unfolded over the last 222 years. But our Constitution has endured through secession and civil rights, through World War and Cold War, because it provides a foundation of principles that can be applied pragmatically; it provides a compass that can help us find our way. It hasn’t always been easy. We are an imperfect people. Every now and then, there are those who think that America’s safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. And we hear such voices today. But over the long haul the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we’ve made our share of mistakes, required some course corrections, ultimately we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength and a beacon to the world.

Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can’t count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and – in all probability – 10 years from now. Neither I nor anyone can stand here today and say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. But I can say with certainty that my administration – along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security – will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are, if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. This must be our common purpose.

I ran for President because I believe that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together. We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America – it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. We’ve done so before in times that were more perilous than ours. We will do so once again.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

END at 11:17 A.M. EDT

***

Here is former Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s speech.

***

REMARKS BY RICHARD B. CHENEY

by former Vice President Richard B. Cheney
American Enterprise Institute, Washington D.C., May 21, 2009

Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.

I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.

Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.

Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush administration who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.

When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America . . . and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.

9/11 caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact–crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.

That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least – but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass – a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.

For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.

There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day – word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations: the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.

So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.

The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people. 

In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations. 

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.

Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.

By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.

Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.

One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see – including the enemy – let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all. 

Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.

In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.

Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods. 

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned, one lead that goes unpursued, can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.

Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.

On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental. 

The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.

In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies. 

It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want–just don’t bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion, our belief in equal rights for women, our support for Israel, our cultural and political influence in the world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the nineteen recruits who boarded those planes on September 11, 2001.

The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world–for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences–and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.

This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.

As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations–and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration–the missing twenty-six words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.”

If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.

For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward–the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris”–my mind always goes back to that moment.

To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office–which was to be another 2,689 days–there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris – it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.

Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would “include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.

To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.

Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own – all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.

Thank you very much.


Tyrants Get Another U.N. Platform

April 24, 2009

An op-ed on Durban II by Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Egyptian dissident and Harvard scholar

The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2009

In 1948, the United Nations recognized the “inherent dignity” and “the equal and inalienable rights” of all human beings when it ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Though this week’s U.N. conference in Geneva claimed to stand for these noble values, the world’s dictators were the real winners.

Too many official country delegates didn’t come to Geneva to stand up for the oppressed. They came to condemn the “colonial powers” of the West and Israel. In so doing, they sought to guard against exposing their own regimes’ human-rights records. While the delegates met in the official conference hall, the true defenders of human rights – civil society organizations and dissidents – gathered at their own conference where they examined today’s most pressing human-rights issues.

The deep divide between those who seek to expose human-rights abuses and those who only use the language of human rights as a shield is not new. It started during Rio’s Earth Summit in 1992, where, for the first time, the U.N. agreed to host two forums: one for government representatives and one for NGOs. The divide between government and NGOs, and between the Third World and the West, reached an apex in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The central wedge issue was the treatment of the state of Israel.

Eight years ago, the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action (DDPA) singled out Israel for the harshest rebuke of any country. It was not that Israel was totally innocent of charges about its continued occupation of the Palestinians. But the vehemence with which the delegates issued this condemnation, and their manner of voting on it – the delegates cheered “Down With Israel” – led many to conclude that the DPPA bordered on anti-Semitism.

What compounded this sentiment is that most of the governments that pile on to condemn Israel and the so-called “neocolonial” West have terrible human-rights records. These include tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Libya, Iran, Syria and Egypt (my home country). Their atrocious violations have been widely reported by organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

But members of like-minded voting blocs – such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States – comprise more than two-thirds of the U.N. membership votes. Together, they can railroad through any resolution, no matter how absurd. It was this Afro-Islamic-Arab bloc that made sure Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be the keynote speaker in the opening session of this year’s U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.

Rightly anticipating that the Geneva conference would be a forum for anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda, the U.S. and a score of Western democracies boycotted the conference entirely. More countries – such as Britain, Germany and Holland – walked out of the conference when Mr. Ahmadinejad delivered his usual anti-Israel tirade, calling the Jewish state a “most cruel and racist regime.”

Unfortunately, lost in this circus were the real victims who suffer at the hands of autocratic and theocratic regimes. The most vulnerable groups – the poor, women, children, migrant and stateless people – were ignored this week in Geneva.

Though the decision to boycott the conference was understandable, I believe it was a mistake. The U.S. and other democracies should have attended and fought back. An overwhelming majority of mankind would have applauded their moral courage.

I spent three years alone in an Egyptian prison for the crime of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation.” Today, prisoners like Roxana Saberi in Iran languish in jails for crimes they did not commit. It is the job of true human-rights advocates to strengthen such victims by standing up to dictators.

Rather than letting Mr. Ahmadinejad steal the headlines, I would have liked to have seen the universally popular President Barack Obama take on the hypocrites who speak in the name of Islam and want to sacrifice such basic rights as freedom of speech by outlawing “Islamophobia.” Mr. Obama could have rescued the human-rights agenda from those who have hijacked it.

Though it didn’t happen in Geneva, I look forward to a campaign, led by Mr. Obama, to return the cause of human rights to its rightful owners.

Mr. Ibrahim was incarcerated by the Mubarak regime from 2000 to 2003. He is now a visiting professor at Harvard.


Fidel Castro’s Comeback

April 23, 2009

Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro, in a new article published in Granma, says U.S. President Barack Obama misinterpreted comments from Fidel’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro. Fidel Castro repelled the idea that Cuba is ready to free political prisoners or lower taxes on remittance payments.

ABC News‘  White House correspondent discusses what Fidel’s comments might suggest for U.S.-Cuba talks in a blog post.

Read full story.


U.N. Durban Review Conference Final Declaration is biased

April 22, 2009

It is highly disappointing, but not surprising, that more than 100 nations attending the Durban II Racism Conference in Geneva overwhelmingly voted to approve a final declaration that is biased. In a replay of the 2001 original United Nations World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Israel is again the only nation singled out.

The conference, which is a follow-up to the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, was meant to address those human rights issues and their violators. However, both the Durban Review Conference and its predecessor degenerated into anti-Israel summits. The 2009 declaration reaffirms the conclusions from the original Durban conference. That document asserted that Palestinians are subject to Israeli “racism.”

The expectation that this anti-Israel declaration would again be the outcome prompted Israel, Canada, the United States of America, Italy, Germany, Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, and Poland to withdraw.

Libya helped to seal the negative outcome of the conference. Chosen as the chair of the conference, despite a long history of supporting terrorism and violating human rights, Libya yesterday engineered the swift movement of the declaration from the drafting committee and adoption of the preparatory document of last week.

Any hope for a better outcome document was dashed with an address to the conference by one who calls for the destruction of and supports terrorism against the State of Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many nations walked out in protest on April 20, 2009, in the face of his hateful, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel tirade.

The 23 European Union nations delegates walked out during Ahmadinejad speech, in which he said that the foundation of the State of Israel rendered “an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering” in order “to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.”

***

Quotes from Ahmadinejad’s speech in Geneva

[/source]

 

“The victorious powers [of the world wars] call themselves the conquerors of the world, while ignoring or down-treading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements.”

“Following World War II, they resorted to making an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”

“It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide, whilst the awakened consciences and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutality and the bombardment of civilians of Gaza.”

“[Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were] a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations. Today, the human community is facing a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the word Zionism personifies racism. [It] falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide hatred.”

“Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their supporters of political and international means…Governments must be encouraged and supported in the fight aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and moving towards reforming the current international mechanisms.”

“You are all aware of the conspiracy of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference… It should be recognized that boycotting such a session is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism.”


Durban II Hatefest

April 17, 2009

A statement by Anne Bayefsky at the Third Substantive Preparatory Meeting of the Durban Review Conference.

April 17, 2009
United Nations, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

The eyes of millions of victims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance are upon YOU, the representatives of states and the United Nations. And instead of hope you have given them despair. Instead of truth you have handed them diplomatic double-talk. Instead of combating anti-Semitism you have handed them a reason for Jews to fear UN-driven hatemongering on a global scale.

The Durban conference – allegedly dedicated to combating racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance – will open April 20th on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler without agreement on even so much as remembering the Holocaust and the war against the Jews. Your draft words on the Holocaust – the very foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – have been narrowed to the barest mention from previous versions. And if the minor reference survives at all – it will be a testament to your interest in Jews that died 60 years ago, while tolerating and encouraging the murder of Jews in the here and now.

Furthermore, the draft before you demonizes the Jewish state of Israel and then has the audacity to pretend to care about anti-Semitism in a single word buried among 17 pages. Anti-Semitism means discrimination against the Jewish people. Since it is evident that almost none of you have the courage to say it, the face of modern anti-Semitism IS the UN – your – discrimination against Israel, the embodiment of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Over and over again we have heard a massive misinformation campaign about the content of these proceedings and the draft before you. We have heard the tale that this draft does not single out Israel, that the hate has been removed, that the fault of the anti-Semitism at Durban I was that of NGOs while states and the UN were blameless.

Perhaps you think that journalists and victims will not bother to read for themselves the Durban Declaration adopted by some governments. There is only one state mentioned in it – Israel. There is only one state associated with racist practices in it – Israel. And yet the very first thing that this draft before you does is to reaffirm that abomination, abomination for Jews and Arabs living in Israel’s free and democratic society, and for all the victims of racism ignored therein. Lawyers call it incorporation by reference when they hope nobody reads the small print. The propaganda stops here. We have read it. We understand the game. And we decry the ugly effort to repeat the Durban agenda to isolate and defeat Israel politically, as every effort to do so militarily for decades has failed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chair of this Preparatory Committee also told us this week that the Durban Declaration in all its aspects is a consensus text. Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the Canadian reservations made in Durban in 2001 which state categorically that the Middle East language was outside the conference’s jurisdiction and not agreed. Perhaps they failed to notice that one of the world’s greatest democracies, the United States, voted with its feet and walked out of the Durban I hatefest. The Durban Declaration has never represented a global consensus among free and democratic nations. When the head of the Islamic conference treats Durban as a bible, in their words, it is more accurately a defamation of religions.

This week you decided which states ought to serve in a leadership role at next week’s conference. Among them are some of the world’s leading practitioners of racism, not those interested in ending it. You have also decided to hand a global megaphone to the President of a state which advocates genocide and denies the Holocaust.

So in a state of shock and dismay we address ourselves not to the human rights abusers that glorify the Durban Declaration or its next incarnation, but to democracies – and we ask: Will Germany sit on Hitler’s birthday and listen to the speech of an advocate of genocide against the Jewish people and grant legitimacy to the forum which tolerates his presence? What about the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the Magna Carta? Or France that helped to ship last generation’s Jews to crematoriums?

You could have fought racism. You chose instead to fight Jews. You could have promoted the universal standards against racism already in existence. You chose instead to diminish their importance in the name of alleged cultural preferences. You could have protected freedom of expression. You chose instead to undermine it by twisted concepts of incitement. You could have brought victims of racism together in a common cause. You chose instead to pit victims against each other in an ugly struggle for meager recognition.

For those democracies that remain under these circumstances you are ultimately responsible for what can only be called an appalling disservice to real victims of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance around the world.

About the author: Anne Bayefsky holds a B.A., M.A. and LL.B. from the University of Toronto and an M.Litt. from Oxford University. She is a barrister and solicitor of the Ontario Bar, and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute as well as professor at Columbia University Law School in New York, where her areas of expertise include international human rights law, equality rights, and constitutional human rights law. Visit her website here.


The Myths of U.N. Durban Review Conference

April 10, 2009
 
 
 

 

 

 

hamasunhumanrightscouncil

The Algerian-chaired United Nations committee is seeking to rewrite international human rights law by definining any criticism of Islamic dogma as a human rights violation, and is endorsed by Article 30 of the current Durban II draft; see UN Watch speech below.

Click also here for New York Times video documenting racist treatment of two million black African migrants by Libyan government of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, chair of Durban II conference planning committee.

***

Testimony by Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director, before the United Nations Human Rights Council

 
 
 
 
 
 

10th session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, March 2009)

Thank you, Mr. President.

Racism is evil. How can we truly fight it?

For starters, by clearing up three myths about next month’s conference.

Myth Number One: that the new draft removes all pernicious provisions.

The truth is that many were removed – thanks only to the credible threat of an E.U. walk-out – but red lines continue to be breached:

  • Articles 10, 30 and 132 encourage the Islamic states’ campaign to ban any criticism of religion.
  • Articles 60 to 62 demonize the West, addressing only its sins of slavery, yet saying nothing of the massive Arab trade in African slaves, thereby politicizing that which should never be politicized.
  • Article 1 breaches President Obama’s red line by reaffirming what his government called the quote, “flawed 2001 Durban Declaration”, a text that stigmatized Israel with false accusations.

Myth Number Two: that going to the conference means dialogue.

In truth, we’ve been negotiating non-stop since August 2007. Going to the conference means endorsing a particular text, and risks legitimizing the greatest perpetrators of racism.

Ironically, many who now claim to support dialogue, are Mideast states belonging to the Arab Boycott Office in Damascus, or radical left campaigners who call for equally bigoted boycotts in the West.

Myth Number Three: that Durban 2 will help millions of victims.

But can anyone name a single victim of racism who was helped by the 2001 conference and countless follow-up committees?

Did Durban help a single victim of Sudan’s racist campaign of mass killing, rape and displacement against millions in Darfur?

Did it help the women of Saudi Arabia subjected to systematic discrimination?

Did it help gays executed by Iran, even as President Ahmadinejad says there are no gays in Iran?

Did it help the 2 million black African migrants in Libya, who, as we read in last week’s International Herald Tribune, say they are treated like slaves and animals?

To truly fight racism, we need to hold perpetrators to account. Tragically, Durban 2 does the opposite.

Thank you, Mr. President.


CIA announces end of secret prisons

April 10, 2009

flag_of_the_cia

Leon Edward Panetta, the new director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, said yesterday in a message to CIA employees that the agency would shut down its remaining secret prisons overseas, The New York Times reports.

Secret CIA prisons, or “black sites”, had become one of the more controversial tactics used by the George W. Bush administration in its counterterrorism strategy. Three prisoners at CIA prisons were famously subjected to “waterboarding” in 2002 and 2003, and a report by the International Red Cross released this week detailed the treatment of fourteen prisoners at the facilities and called them “inhuman” .

Here is the text of the report.

***

Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta on the CIA’s Interrogation Policy and Contracts

April 9, 2009

As you know, there is continuing media and congressional interest in reviewing past rendition, detention, and interrogation activities that took place dating back to 2002. I have also been asked about contract interrogators and detention facilities. Today, I sent a letter to our Congressional oversight committees outlining the Agency’s current policy regarding interrogation of captured terrorists, including the policy on the use of contractors in the process.

  • CIA’s aggressive global pursuit of al-Qaida and its affiliates continues undiminished. Agency officers are working tirelessly – and successfully – to disrupt operations in strict accord with the President’s Executive Order of January 22, 2009, concerning detention and interrogation.
  • CIA officers, whose knowledge of terrorist organizations is second to none, will continue to conduct debriefings using a dialog style of questioning that is fully consistent with the interrogation approaches authorized and listed in the Army Field Manual. CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse. That holds true whether a suspect is in the custody of an American partner or a foreign liaison service.
  • Under the Executive Order, the CIA does not employ any of the enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized by the Department of Justice from 2002 to 2009.
  • No CIA contractors will conduct interrogations.
  • CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites. I have directed our Agency personnel to take charge of the decommissioning process and have further directed that the contracts for site security be promptly terminated. It is estimated that our taking over site security will result in savings of up to $4 million.
  • CIA retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term transitory basis. None have occurred since I have become Director. We anticipate that we would quickly turn over any person in our custody to U.S. military authorities or to their country of jurisdiction, depending on the situation.

CIA’s focus will remain where the American people expect it to be-on the mission of protecting the country today and into the future. We will do that even as we cooperate with Congressional reviews of past interrogation practices. Officers who act on guidance from the Department of Justice – or acted on such guidance previously – should not be investigated, let alone punished. This is what fairness and wisdom require.

CIA will continue to honor the law as we defend the United States as we have done since the beginning of this program. That is what the men and women of this Agency demand. Together, we can, and will, do no less. Thank you for your service and dedication to protecting this nation.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Happy Easter and Passover.

Leon E. Panetta


Obama Administration to Join anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council

March 31, 2009

The Obama administration has revoked a decision by the Bush administration to boycott the Geneva-based United Nations’ premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive and racist states, according to The Washington Post.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is wholly owned and operated by Islamic states that legitimize Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism, supported by an automatic majority from China, Cuba, and other repressive regimes. Canada, now the true America,  is the only country in the world that has been willing to stand up and resist Orwellian resolutions that are destroying the true principles of human rights.

The resolutions of the U.N. Human Rights Council failed to address human rights violations of Muslim countries, notably Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, Saudi Arabia’s banning of all religious practice aside from Islam, and the persecution of Christian communities in Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq. Instead of this, the U.N. Human Rights Council recommended to criminalize the defamation of Islam.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers