Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Re: Illegality and Lying

January 12, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

The attached editorial appeared in The Washington Post National Weekly Edition for January 3-9, 2005 at p. 24. It summarizes a lot of pertinent information about illegality and lying.

Lawrence R. Velvel War Crimes THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held.

The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false. Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba, including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. "On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. "Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more." Two defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June. When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were confiscated. Other documents detail abuses by Marines in Iraq, including mock executions and the torture of detainees by burning and electric shock. Several dozen detainees have died in U.S. custody. In many cases, Army investigations of these crimes were shockingly shoddy: Officials lost records, failed to conduct autopsies after suspicious deaths and allowed evidence to be contaminated. Soldiers found to have committed war crimes were excused with noncriminal punishments. The summary of one suspicious death of a detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison reads: "No crime scene exam was conducted, no autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation because copy machine broken in medical office."

Some of the abuses can be attributed to lack of discipline in some military units -- though the broad extent of the problem suggests, at best, that senior commanders made little effort to prevent or control wrongdoing. But the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld. One FBI agent reported on May 10 about a conversation he had with Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. GeoffreyD. Miller, who defended the use of interrogation techniques the FBI regarded as illegal on the grounds that the military "has their marching orders from the Sec Def." Gen. Miller has testified under oath that dogs were never used to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, as authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld inDecember 2002; the FBI papers show otherwise. The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated. The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be ongoing in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government.

C 2004 The Washington Post Company

January 12, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

The attached article from The Washington Post National Weekly Edition of January 3-9, 2005 discusses the practice of transferring prisoners to countries where they will be tortured.

Lawrence R. Velvel Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War
By Dana Priest Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A01

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers. The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records. Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation. The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide. Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret. According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops. As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism of the practice has grown.

Human rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture. The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a presidential directive dating to the Clinton administration, which the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed. The CIA declined to comment for this article. "Our policymakers would never confront the issue," said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who has been involved with renditions and supports the practice. "We would say, 'Where do you want us to take these people?' The mind-set of the bureaucracy was, 'Let someone else do the dirty work.' "The story of the Gulfstream V offers a rare glimpse into the CIA's secret operations, a world that current and former CIA officers said should not have been so easy to document. Not only have the plane's movements been tracked around the world, but the on-paper officers of Premier Executive Transport Services are also connected to a larger roster of false identities. Each of the officers of Premier Executive is linked in public records to one of five post office box numbers in Arlington, Oakton, Chevy Chase and the District. A total of 325 names are registered to the five post office boxes. An extensive database search of a sample of 44 of those names turned up none of the information that usually emerges in such a search: no previous addresses, no past or current telephone numbers, no business or corporate records. In addition, although most names were attached to dates of birth in the 1940s, '50s or '60s, all were given Social Security numbers between 1998 and 2003. The Washington Post showed its research to the CIA, including a chart connecting Premier Executive's officers, the post office boxes, the 325 names, the recent Social Security numbers and an entity called Executive Support OFC. A CIA spokesman declined to comment. According to former CIA operatives experienced in using "proprietary," or front companies, the CIA likely used, or intended to use, some of the 325 names to hide other activities, the nature of which could not be learned. The former operatives also noted that the agency devotes more effort to producing cover identities for its operatives in the field, which are supposed to stand up under scrutiny, than to hiding its ownership of a plane. The CIA's plane secret began to unravel less than six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. On Oct. 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with the News in Islamabad, broke a story asserting that Pakistani intelligence officers had handed over to U.S. authorities a Yemeni microbiologist, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. The report noted that an aircraft bearing tail number N379P, and parked in a remote area of a little-used terminal at the Karachi airport, had whisked Mohammed away about 2:40 a.m. Oct. 23. The tail number was also obtained by The Post's correspondent in Pakistan but not published. The News article ricocheted among spy-hunters and Web bloggers as a curiosity for those interested in divining the mechanics of the new U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

At 7:54:04 p.m. Oct. 26, the News article was posted on, which bills itself as "a conservative news forum."Thirteen minutes later, a chat-room participant posted the plane's registered owners: Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., of 339 Washington St., Dedham, Mass. "Sounds like a nice generic name," one blogger wrote in response. "Kind of like Air America" -- a reference to the CIA's secret civilian airlines that flew supplies, food and personnel into Southeast Asia, including Laos, during the Vietnam War.

Eight weeks later, on Dec. 18, 2001, American-accented men wearing hoods and working with special Swedish security police brought two Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked at night at Stockholm's Bromma Airport, according to Swedish officials and airport personnel interviewed by Swedish television's "Cold Facts" program. The account was confirmed independently by The Post. The plane's tail number: N379P. Wearing red overalls and bound with handcuffs and leg irons, the men, who had applied for political asylum in Sweden, were flown to Cairo, according to Swedish officials and documents. Ahmed Agiza was convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of terrorism-related charges; Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say they were tortured while in Egyptian custody. Sweden has opened an investigation into the decision to allow them to be rendered.

A month later, in January 2002, a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V landed at Jakarta's military airport. According to Indonesian officials, the plane carried away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian traveling on a Pakistani passport and suspected of being an al Qaeda operative who had worked with shoe bomber suspect Richard C. Reid. Without a hearing, he was flown to Egypt. His status and whereabouts are unknown. The plane's tail number was not noted, but the CIA is believed to have only one of the expensive jets. Over the past year, the Gulfstream V's flights have been tracked by plane spotters standing at the end of runways with high-powered binoculars and cameras to record the flights of military and private aircraft. These hobbyists list their findings on specialized Web pages. According to them, since October 2001 the plane has landed in Islamabad; Karachi; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Baghdad; Kuwait City; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rabat, Morocco. It has stopped frequently at Dulles International Airport, at Jordan's military airport in Amman and at airports in Frankfurt, Germany; Glasglow, Scotland, and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Premier Executive Transport Services was incorporated in Delaware by the Prentice-Hall Corporation System Inc. on Jan. 10, 1994. On Jan. 23, 1996, Dean Plakias, a lawyer with Hill & Plakias in Dedham, filed incorporation papers with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts listing the company's president as Bryan P. Dyess. According to public documents, Premier Executive ordered a new Gulfstream V in 1998. It was delivered in November 1999 with tail number N581GA, and reregistered for unknown reasons on March 2000 with a new tail number, N379P. It began flights in June 2000, and changed the tail number again in December 2003. Plakias did not return several telephone messages seeking comment. He told the Boston Globe recently that he simply filed the required paperwork. "I'm not at liberty to discuss the affairs of the client business, mainly for reasons I don't know," he told the Globe. Asked whether the company exists, Plakias responded: "Millions of companies are set up in Massachusetts that are just paper companies."

A lawyer in Washington, whose name is listed on a 1996 IRS form on record at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office in Massachusetts -- and whose name is whited out on some copies of the forms -- hung up the phone last week when asked about the company. Three weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the plane, complete with a new tail number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Ore., according to FAA records. Its registered agent in Portland, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls. Like the officers at Premier Executive, Bayard's sole listed corporate officer, Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone history. Unlike Premier's officers, Bayard's name does not appear in any other public records. Researchers Margot Williams and Julie Tate contributed to this report. Williams has since left The Washington Post.

January 12, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

The enclosed was emailed to me. I cannot speak to its accuracy, although I concede that the views that animate it ring true with me. If it is accurate, it seems another serious indictment of the American media (which so often deserves to be seriously indicted).

Lawrence R. Velvel

J’ACCUSE….! source: subscriber/commentator Mike Levine

I, Mike Levine, citizen of Israel and the United States, accuse you, NYTimes, LA Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, Atlanta Constitution, CNN, Times of London, and thousands of other newspapers and TV networks worldwide… I accuse you of gross bias against, and naked hatred towards the Jewish state of Israel. For years most of you have shown a clear bias in favor of the Arab Muslims and Palestinians, taking every opportunity to demonize Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East, and the only Jewish state in the world. But in the past two weeks you have raised your hatred to a new high, while your journalistic standards have fallen to new lows. While coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Asia has been extensive, and your reporting of international fund raising and rescue efforts has been massive, you wrote hardly a word about the fact that Israel was one of the very first to offer substantial aid and send medical rescue missions to the stricken areas!

Within hours planeloads of well trained rescue people and experienced trauma doctors were on their way. Israel is one of the tiniest nations on earth, with a total population far less than many cities of the world, yet in the first hours following the earthquake and flooding, Israel assembled hundreds of doctors and other medical personnel, many planeloads of medical supplies, tents, food, blankets, even baby diapers. While other, much larger, much richer nations, were still rubbing their eyes in disbelief, Israel was already setting up many aid stations in the worst hit areas. Nor did you report the unbelievably hateful refusal of Sri Lanka, and a couple other Muslim states, to accept the entry of Jewish medical and rescue personnel, although they did cynically accept the supplies and equipment sent by Israel. I accuse world media of gross incompetance. I accuse world media of abrogation of journalistic integrity. I accuse world media of sheer and transparent prejudice against Israel and the Jews. I accuse world media of pandering to the Islamic nations hatred of anything Jewish. Only a few publications outside Israel mentioned the major contribution being made by Israel. Only a very few pointed out that Israel’s per capita contribution of manpower, equipment, supplies, and money WAS THE HIGHEST IN THE WORLD!

Only a few bothered to mention that only a tiny trickle of aid was offered by all of the world’s Muslim nations, nations sitting on half of the world’s oil reserves, nations raking in billions of dollars daily, nations whose elite live lives of such opulence as can hardly be imagined by most of the world’s masses. Saudi Arabia sat unmoved for a week while the world scrambled to raise funds and send massive aid, then magnanimously pledged a measly ten million dollars, a pledge which has yet to be paid! Imagine, this from a brother Muslim state, a state that provided families of Palestinian suicide bombers with $150,000,000 (one hundred fifty million dollars) during the past year alone! Kuwait, the second richest Muslim nation, pledged an equally paltry ten million!

You people in Chicago…did you read any of this in your newspapers? How about you good people in Dallas? Paris? Berlin? Melbourne? Did any of you read or hear of Israel’s incredible generousity of spirit, manpower, and money? Did you read one editorial praising the fact that the Jewish state unselfishly came to the immediate aid of Muslim nations that have long called for the destruction of Israel? No, chances are you did not. Maybe you ought to let your editors know how you feel about their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people. Because if you don’t speak out, they will continue to believe no one gives a damn about Israel, and they will continue speaking of Israel only in negative terms, writing only about how the Jewish state mistreats the Palestinians and their terrorists. Join me when I say to world media loud and clear …J’ACCUSE!

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