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Geneva Conventions? They’re Leaving on a Jet Plane…Don’t Know When They’ll Be Back Again


Here, pasted in below, are two items from today’s newspapers on some of the fascist machinations of the U.S. global police state. The first story, from the New York Times, relates soon-to-be bipartisanally approved right-authoritarian Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ opinion that non-Iraqi occupation…

resisters captured in Iraq have no protections under the Geneva Conventions. This is apparently also the position taken by the fascist US Justice Department last year.

In his Senate pre-confirmation ritual, Gonzales recently (yesterday perhaps) gave the following reason for supporting that department’s denial of basic human rights provisions to non-Iraqi and therefore illegal combatants: “We had members of Al Qaeda, intent on killing Americans, flooding into or coming into Iraq,. And the question was legitimately raised, in my judgment, as to whether or not – what were the legal limits about how to deal with these terrorists.”

Well, gee, but it seems that Iraq and the Islamic world have soldiers of the United States Empire flooding in, “intent on killing” Iraqis and Arabs in general. This is indeed very much the intent that is drummed into the heads of US soldiers in their boot camps, where they are encouraged to mercilessly butcher “sand-niggers” and led to believe that they will be avenging 9/11 in Iraq even though the Iraqi people, including Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with the jetliner attacks. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed because of this racist war indoctrination ordered by the imperialist War Pigs in Washington D.C. Insofar as al Qaeda now has a presence in Iraq, of course, this is pretty much entirely due to the illegal and murderous US occupation of that once sovereign nation.

The bloody war masters in the White House, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department will not mind, I hope, if impartial observers deem the American invaders to be illegal combatants and therefore fit to be murdered, tortured, and imprisoned indefinitely without right to counsel or even formal charges.

Speaking of right-less illegal combatants incarcerated for life, this Times article contains an interesting bit of information from an anonymous US torturer who has been working at the United States’ detention center in Guantanamo. “A veteran interrogator at Guantánamo told The New York Times in a recent interview,” Times reporters Jehl and Lewis note, “that it became clear over time that most of the detainees had little useful to say and that ‘they were just swept up’ during the Afghanistan war with little evidence they played any significant role. ‘These people had technical knowledge that expired very quickly after they were brought here,’ said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” Regarding Guantánamo, the Times adds, “intelligence veterans not associated with the prison camp have long indicated that it was highly unlikely that most of the detainees could still have any valuable intelligence.”

And speaking of getting swept up and flown to Hell, have you ever heard of the US government policy called “rendition?” The second article pasted in below, from the Chicago Tribune, is a real trip. It tells the story of a curious little Gulfstream V Executive Jet the CIA and the Joint Special Operation Command have been using to take suspected terrorists to countries where torture laws are lax. “Since Sept. 11,” Tribune reporter John Crewdson notes, “unnamed U.S. officials have been quoted in several publications discussing the U.S. practice of ‘rendition,’ which involves sending suspected terrorists or Al Qaeda supporters captured abroad for interrogation to countries where human rights are not traditionally respected.” The jet is registered in the name of “Leonard T. Bayard,” a man who does not exist.

Story 1

January 8, 2005
CAPTURED INSURGENTS

U.S. Said to Hold More Foreigners in Iraq Fighting
By DOUGLAS JEHL and NEIL A. LEWIS

NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 – After raids in recent months that captured hundreds of insurgents in Iraq, the United States has significantly increased the number of prisoners it says are foreign fighters, a group the Bush administration contends are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, American officials said.

A Pentagon official said Friday that the United States was now holding 325 foreign fighters in Iraq, a number that the official said had increased by 140 since Nov. 7, just before the invasion of Falluja. Many of the non-Iraqis were captured in or around that city.

Many of them are suspected of links to Al Qaeda or the related terror networks supporting the insurgency in Iraq, senior Bush administration officials said this week.

Some of the non-Iraqis who were involved in the insurgency there could be transferred out of the country for indefinite detention elsewhere, the officials said, as they have been deemed by the Justice Department not to be entitled to protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to become attorney general, noted that the Justice Department had issued a legal opinion last year saying non-Iraqis captured by American forces in Iraq are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

“We had members of Al Qaeda, intent on killing Americans, flooding into or coming into Iraq,” Mr. Gonzales testified. “And the question was legitimately raised, in my judgment, as to whether or not – what were the legal limits about how to deal with these terrorists.”

“There was a fear about creating a sanctuary for terrorists if we were to say that if you come and fight against America in the conflict with Iraq, that you would receive the protections of a prisoner of war,” he said.

He confirmed that the Justice Department had issued “some guidance with respect to whether or not non-Iraqis who came into Iraq as part of the insurgency, whether or not they would also or likewise enjoy the protection of the Geneva Convention. And I believe the conclusion was that they would not.”

The disclosure about new foreign detainees comes as a high-level group in the administration is struggling to come up with a long-term plan for how to handle the hundreds of prisoners accused of links to the Taliban and Al Qaeda who are already in American custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

The administration has asserted an authority to detain such prisoners indefinitely, as unlawful combatants, but officials have acknowledged that they cannot say how or when the war on terrorism might be deemed to have reached an end.

A senior American official said in an interview this week that the vast majority of the 550 prisoners now held at the American detention center at Guantánamo no longer had any intelligence value and were no longer being regularly interrogated. Still, the official said the Defense Department planned to hold hundreds of them indefinitely, without trial, out of concern that they continue to pose a threat to the United States and cannot safely be sent to their home countries.

“You’re basically keeping them off the battlefield, and unfortunately in the war on terrorism, the battlefield is everywhere,” a senior administration official said.

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the suspected Qaeda and Taliban prisoners have prompted increasing statements of concern from members of Congress, who say the administration has shown little sign of willingness to put the prisoners on trial and who have questioned whether there is adequate legal basis for their indefinite detention.

“It is time for Congress to thoroughly consider whether locking them away for life on the coast of Cuba or wherever is the appropriate solution,” said Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

As part of the plan for their long-term detention, a Pentagon proposal nearing final approval in the administration calls for the construction of a second, permanent prison at Guantánamo, at a cost of at least $25 million, to hold about 200 of the suspected members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban who are seen as posing the highest security risk.

The original purpose of detaining the prisoners at Guantánamo was said to be to interrogate them for information about terrorist operations. But at least three-quarters of the 550 prisoners there are no longer seen as worthy of regular interrogation, the senior American official said, reflecting a judgment that he said had been made in recent months.

That assertion is at odds with statements made as recently as November by the top American commander at Guantánamo Bay, Brig. Gen. Jay Hood. He told reporters that the “vast majority” of the prisoners still had valuable information to impart.

“Are they still of potential intelligence value to our mission? Yes.” General Hood said. Asked if many of the detainees were of little value, he said the vast majority were still useful as an intelligence resource.

The military has put in place two separate quasi-legal proceedings at Guantánamo that officials have said will confirm that almost all were properly imprisoned as enemy combatants and then will allow the authorities to reduce the population.

Most of the 550 prisoners at the camp have been through the first process and deemed to have been properly imprisoned as unlawful combatants. The military has just begun the second process, an annual review as to whether they could be released because they are no longer judged to be threats.

Military officials say no prisoners captured in Iraq have been transferred to Guantánamo. But government officials acknowledged last fall that about a dozen non-Iraqis suspected of ties to Al Qaeda had been transferred out of Iraq by the Central Intelligence Agency between March 2003 and March 2004 to undisclosed locations.

Asked about the review of non-Iraqi prisoners now under way, the officials have left open the possibility that more could be transferred to secret facilities run by the C.I.A. outside the United States. Those facilities are believed to house a total of about two dozen suspected high-ranking officials of Al Qaeda, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and others.

When administration officials first described the legal opinion on detainees in Iraq in October, they acknowledged that the transfer of non-Iraqis by the C.I.A. had already taken place.

Until last fall, the administration had asserted that the full protections of Geneva, including the prohibition on the transfer of prisoners, applied broadly to the conflict in Iraq, and had given no indication that any exception was being made for non-Iraqis.

Altogether, the United States military still holds about 8,500 prisoners in Iraq, including about 7,500 at three main prisons in Iraq and an 1,000 or so at temporary battlefield detention centers. All are classified as security detainees, American military officials say.

As for the American detention center at Guantánamo, intelligence veterans not associated with the prison camp have long indicated that it was highly unlikely that most of the detainees could still have any valuable intelligence.

A veteran interrogator at Guantánamo told The New York Times in a recent interview that it became clear over time that most of the detainees had little useful to say and that “they were just swept up” during the Afghanistan war with little evidence they played any significant role.

“These people had technical knowledge that expired very quickly after they were brought here,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Most of the emphasis was on quantity, not quality,” the interrogator said, adding that the number of pages generated from an interrogation was an important standard.

Story 2

Mysterious jet tied to torture flights

Is shadowy firm front for CIA?

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By John Crewdson
Tribune senior correspondent

January 8, 2005

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

PORTLAND, Ore. — The first question is: Where is Leonard T. Bayard? The next question is: Who is Leonard T. Bayard? But the most important question may be: Does Leonard T. Bayard even exist?

The questions arise because the signature of a Leonard Thomas Bayard appears on the annual report of a Portland-based company, Bayard Foreign Marketing LLC, that was filed in August with the Oregon secretary of state.

According to federal records, Bayard Foreign Marketing is the newest owner of a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V executive jet reportedly used since Sept. 11, 2001, to transport suspected Al Qaeda operatives to countries such as Egypt and Syria, where some of them claim to have later been tortured.

The Central Intelligence Agency has declined to discuss the plane. But one retired CIA officer said that he understood the Gulfstream had been operated by the Joint Special Operations Command, an interagency unit that organizes counterterrorist operations in conjunction with the CIA and military special forces.

A search of commercial databases turned up no information on Leonard Thomas Bayard: no residence address, no telephone number, no Social Security number, no credit history, no automobile or property ownership records–in short, none of the information commonly associated with real people.

And yet, someone signed the name Leonard T. Bayard to Bayard Foreign Marketing’s annual report.

The report, which describes the company as an “international marketing firm,” lists Bayard’s principal place of business as a suite in a historic downtown Portland office building known as the Pittock Block. But a visitor to the suite who asked to see Bayard was told by a receptionist only that “Mr. Bayard doesn’t work here.”

The telephone number on Bayard’s annual report is listed to a private residence in a rundown section of northeast Portland whose doorbell went unanswered earlier this week. Calls to that number, however, appear to be answered by a bank of operators.

An initial call was answered as “Baynard Foreign Marketing” by an operator who insisted she never had heard of Leonard Bayard. A second call two minutes later was answered as “Bayard Foreign Marketing” by a different operator, who said that “Mr. Bayard is away from his desk.”

A message left by a reporter went unanswered. The CIA has long had a well-known practice of “backstopping” local telephone numbers for its proprietary companies around the world, whose calls are forwarded to operators at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Scott Caplan, an attorney whose offices occupy the same Portland suite as the one listed by Bayard Foreign Marketing, identified Bayard as “a client” but declined to say more. Public documents show it was Caplan who filed the incorporation papers for Bayard Foreign Marketing when the company was created in August 2003.

Ann Martens, a spokeswoman for Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, said that knowingly filing a false corporate document in Oregon is punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

November sale

Leonard T. Bayard–whoever he may or may not be–became the sole owner of the mysterious Gulfstream jet on Nov. 16, according to public records compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The records show that Bayard Foreign Marketing purchased the plane, for an undisclosed sum, from Premier Executive Transport Services, whose address is the same as that of a Dedham, Mass., law firm that incorporated Premier Executive in January 1994.

The Massachusetts law firm’s address is shared by a second company, Crowell Aviation Technologies Inc., which according to Dun & Bradstreet claims to have only a single employee and $65,000 in annual revenue.

Government records show, however, that Crowell is one of only nine companies, along with Premier Executive, that has Pentagon permission to land aircraft at military bases worldwide.

The same day it transferred ownership of the Gulfstream to Bayard, Premier Executive sold an unmarked, 3-year-old Boeing 737 to Keeler and Tate Management LLC of Reno. That company’s address is the same as that of the Reno law firm that incorporated it in October 2003, records show.

Like Leonard T. Bayard, the only named principal in Keeler and Tate, one Tyler Edward Tate, also appears not to exist in any public records accessible by the Tribune.

Premier Executive’s only listed executive is its president, Bryan P. Dyess. A person with that name does appear in commercial databases, but his only addresses are two post office boxes in Arlington, Va., not far from CIA headquarters.

Premier Executive purchased or leased the new Gulfstream V in 1999, FAA records show. The plane’s original registration number, N581GA, would later be changed by the FAA to N379P, and again to 8068V.

The first public mention of the Gulfstream appeared six weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, when a Pakistani newspaper reported that Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a 27-year-old microbiology student at Karachi University, had been spirited aboard the plane at Karachi’s airport by Pakistani security officers in the early hours of Oct. 23, 2001.

There is no information about where Mohammed was taken. But Pakistani officials said later that Mohammed, a Yemeni national, was believed by the U.S. to belong to Al Qaeda and to have information about the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

Since Sept. 11, unnamed U.S. officials have been quoted in several publications discussing the U.S. practice of “rendition,” which involves sending suspected terrorists or Al Qaeda supporters captured abroad for interrogation to countries where human rights are not traditionally respected.

Well-documented case

One well-documented rendition occurred in December 2001, when two Egyptian nationals, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery, were flown aboard the Gulfstream from Sweden’s Bromma airport to Cairo. A Swedish television broadcaster, TV4, reported last year that a check of the plane’s registration number, N379P, showed it belonged to Premier Executive.

The Swedish ambassador to Cairo later said Agiza and al-Zery both told him they had been tortured by Egyptian police. Al-Zery was released in October 2003 without charges. Agiza was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his alleged membership in an Egyptian terrorist group.

The Swedish government has called on Egypt to agree to an international investigation into the torture charges. The government has said it had been assured by Egypt that the two men would not be mistreated.

Another widely reported rendition to Egypt occurred in January 2002, when the Gulfstream arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, to pick up a 24-year-old Al Qaeda suspect and dual Egyptian-Pakistani citizen, Muhammad Saad Iqbal, and transport him to Cairo.

German intelligence sources later said Indonesia refused to permit subsequent renditions to Cairo after learning that Iqbal had been tortured.

An international network of “plane spotters,” hobbyists who log the comings and goings of specific aircraft around the world, have posted on the Internet photographs of the Gulfstream in various locations.

The Sunday Times of London, which claimed to have obtained the plane’s flight logs, reported in November that the plane was based at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. The newspaper said it had flown to at least 49 destinations outside the U.S., including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, other U.S. military bases, as well as airports in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan.

Two days after the Sunday Times report, Premier Executive Transport sold the Gulfstream to Bayard Foreign Marketing. On Dec. 1, records show, the FAA assigned the plane yet another tail number, N44982.

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