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Pakistan

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Forgetting Torture: Lee Hamilton, John Brennan, and Abu Zubaydah

The pervasive news surrounding the confirmation hearing of John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for CIA director, is paralleled by another, related story that has been largely ignored by the U.S. media. That is the story of the man called Abu Zubaydah, whose alleged torture testimony, obtained by the CIA while Brennan was the head of the agency’s Terrorist Threat Center, built the foundation for the official account of 9/11. This week I spoke to Lee Hamilton, former vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, about the serious problems that the government’s new stance on Zubaydah creates for the 9/11 Commission Report.

As stated in my last article on the subject, Zubaydah is at the center of an unraveling of the official account of the 9/11 attacks.[1] His extensive torture at the hands of the CIA during Brennan’s tenure, which included at least 83 water-boarding sessions, hanging the man naked from the ceiling, slamming him against a concrete wall, and other atrocious experimental techniques, was said to produce valuable evidence about al Qaeda. However, the government now claims that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda and therefore he could not have known any of the information that the 9/11 Commission attributed to him.

From the start of our conversation, Hamilton told me that he was having trouble remembering Zubaydah. That was odd considering that an article he and Thomas Kean wrote for the New York Times in 2008, describing how the CIA obstructed the 9/11 investigation, referred several times… Continue reading

US Government Protection of Al-Qaeda Terrorists and the US-Saudi Black Hole

By Peter Dale Scott

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 29, No. 1, July 29, 2013

For almost two centuries American government, though always imperfect, was also a model for the world of limited government, having evolved a system of restraints on executive power through its constitutional arrangement of checks and balances.

Since 9/11 however, constitutional practices have been overshadowed by a series of emergency measures to fight terrorism. The latter have mushroomed in size, reach and budget, while traditional government has shrunk. As a result we have today what the journalist Dana Priest has called two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.1

More and more, it is becoming common to say that America, like Turkey before it, now has what Marc Ambinder and John Tirman have called a deep state behind the public one.2 And this parallel government is guided in surveillance matters by its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, which according to the New York Times, “has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”3 Thanks largely to Edward Snowden, it is now clear that the FISA Court has permitted this deep state to expand surveillance beyond the tiny number of known and suspected Islamic terrorists, to any incipient protest movement that might challenge the policies of the American war machine.…

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Congressional No-Show at ‘Heart-Breaking’ Drone Survivor Hearing

Originally published at Common Dreams on 10/29/13

In “historic” briefing, Rehman family gives heartbreaking account of drone killing of 65-year-old grandmother… to five lawmakers

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Image of the Rehman family waiting to testify at the Congressional Briefing on drone strikes

The Rehman family waits to testify at the Congressional Briefing on drone strikes Tuesday, October 29. (Photo: @akneerudh/ Twitter)

Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Image of Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike which killed her grandmother. Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that killed Rafiq’s mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.

According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).

Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.

In her testimony, Nabila shared that she was picking okra with her grandmother when the U.S. missile struck and both children described how they used to play outside but are now too afraid.

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer… Continue reading

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