Docudharma Times Saturday May 16

Torture Is A Crime  

Saturday’s Headlines:

Cheney said Gitmo detainees revealed Iraq-al Qaida link

Sri Lankan army ‘encircling’ last refuge of Tamil rebels

Refugees’ plight worsens in searing heat

Prison, revolution and reconciliation

The ‘H’ word came… and the Berlin audience roared with laughter

Iraq’s fledgeling navy takes possession of its first naval patrol boat

Pressed on Palestinian state, Netanyahu changes the subject – to Iran

‘Hostage killed’ in Nigeria Delta

CIA Chief Rebuts Pelosi’s Charges

Panetta Says Lawmakers Were Told About Use of Interrogation Methods

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CIA Director Leon Panetta yesterday rejected  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that the agency misled her about its use of coercive interrogation methods, escalating a controversy that has dogged the speaker for weeks and intensifying a debate over Bush administration policies that the Obama administration has tried to avoid.

Panetta, whom President Obama tapped to lead the CIA this year, reasserted the agency’s claim that it told congressional leaders about the use of such methods during a closed-door briefing in September 2002.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) has acknowledged attending the briefing but says she was told only that the CIA was considering the use of waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.

Rumsfeld’s renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths

Special Forces group implicated in three incidents that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians / MarSOC was set up by former defence secretary despite opposition from within the Marine Corps

By Jerome Starkey in Kabul

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A single American Special Forces group was behind at least three of Afghanistan’s worst civilian casualty incidents, The Independent has learnt, raising fundamental questions about their ongoing role in the conflict.

Troops from the US Marines Corps’ Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, last week – believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children – as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. News of MarSOC’s involvement in the three incidents comes just days after a Special Forces expert, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, was named to take over as the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. His surprise appointment has prompted speculation that commando counterinsurgency missions will increase in the battle to beat the Taliban.


The machinery behind health-care reform

Lobbyists score unexpected victory channeling billions to electronic records

By Robert O’Harrow Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – When President Obama won approval for his $787 billion stimulus package in February, large sections of the 407-page bill focused on a push for new technology that would not stimulate the economy for years.

The inclusion of as much as $36.5 billion in spending to create a nationwide network of electronic health records fulfilled one of Obama’s key campaign promises — to launch the reform of America’s costly health-care system.

But it was more than a political victory for the new administration. It also represented a triumph for an influential trade group whose members now stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars.

Cheney said Gitmo detainees revealed Iraq-al Qaida link

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn’t true.

Cheney’s 2004 comments to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News were largely overlooked at the time. However, they appear to substantiate recent reports that interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein – despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship.


Sri Lankan army ‘encircling’ last refuge of Tamil rebels

Red Cross warns of humanitarian catastrophe for civilians trapped inside war zone

Mark Tran and agencies, Friday 15 May 2009 12.53 BST

The Sri Lankan military today tightened its grip on the last refuge held by Tamil rebels, ignoring calls to end an offensive that aid officials say has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe. Two army units little more than a mile apart were fighting their way down the coast from the north and up from the south in a pincer movement to encircle the rebels, a military spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, said.

“Troops are coming along the coastal line, and closing in,” Nanayakkara said. “We want to rescue the civilians in 48 hours.”

Despite their apparently hopeless position, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have vowed not to surrender in their 25-year fight for a separate nation for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils.

Refugees’ plight worsens in searing heat

100F temperatures confront masses who have fled the Swat Valley conflict

By Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich in Jalala

Saturday, 16 May 2009

At the height of the bright white midday burn-out, the refugees from the hills were hiding from the Jalala sun.

They had hung up some tarpaulins at the base of an electricity pylon and they sat there – three families in all – covering their heads and wafting themselves hopelessly with bamboo fans. In this corner of the North-West Frontier Province, the temperature was at least 100F (38C), and the refugees looked ready to expire.

“The tent is so hot. If you’re inside the tent during the day you are very brave,” said Gul Mohammed, a shopkeeper from Rahimabad in the Swat Valley. “We can only go inside our tent in the evening, and even then it’s full of mosquitoes. That’s why we are here, hiding under these tarpaulins.”


Prison, revolution and reconciliation

Ukraine’s PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, tells Jonathan Steele how friends have become foes – and vice versa

Jonathan Steele

The Guardian, Saturday 16 May 2009

It was one of those ghastly days – collapsing into bed at 4am after an official trip, up again too soon for a cabinet meeting on the economic crisis, and then an interview with the Guardian. When she arrives for our meeting, Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s prime minister and Europe’s second most powerful woman, has not even had time to produce the trademark peasant-style plait that normally hovers on her head like a halo: her hair is combed into a loose bun. Her officials struggle to remember when they had last seen her in this condition, and pictures taken that morning of her minus plait are already shooting round Kiev’s mobile phones.

Tymoshenko first came to international attention during Ukraine’s so-called orange revolution in 2004. She and the pro-western presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, stood on the barricades for 13 days with tens of thousands of supporters demanding a re-run of elections. The supreme court decided there had been fraud and after a new election he became president and she prime minister.

The ‘H’ word came… and the Berlin audience roared with laughter

From Times Online

May 16, 2009

Roger Boyes in Berlin

For twelve minutes, the Berlin audience of Mel Brooks’ The Producers sat smiling, politely nodding as the gags gathered pace.

Then it came: the ‘H’ word.

Max Bialystock, the charmingly roguish hero of the musical, throws a script on his casting couch. “That’s it!” he yells, “Springtime for Hitler, it won’t just be a flop, it’ll be a catastrophe! It’s perfect.”

The audience let out a collective sigh of relief. Hitler had been named! – and guffawed. From then on, Susan Stroman’s German language version of the Broadway and West End hit had the eight hundred or so Germans at the preview audience laughing at every crack, every nudge, every attempt to make the Germans look like buffoons.

Middle East

Iraq’s fledgeling navy takes possession of its first naval patrol boat

From The Times

May 16, 2009

Richard Owen in La Spezia

Iraq’s fledgeling Navy proudly took possession yesterday of its new flagship: Patrol Ship 701, named Fateh, Arabic for Victory. The vessel, one of four commissioned by Iraq from Fincantieri, the Italian state-owned shipbuilders, was dwarfed at the handover ceremony on the Bay of La Spezia by the looming grey bulk of the Cavour, Italy’s giant new aircraft carrier, which is to be handed over to the Italian Navy in June.

For the Iraqis the 53m-long Fateh is a symbol of the rebirth of its naval force – formerly Soviet-supplied – which was almost completely destroyed in the First Gulf War. The new Iraqi Navy is due to take over maritime security in two years after training by the British-led Coalition Naval Advisory and Training Team in Iraq.

An Iraqi crewman read from the Koran as the patrol boat was handed over by Admiral Dino Nascetti, Italian head of naval shipbuilding, to the sound of the Italian and Iraqi national anthems.

Pressed on Palestinian state, Netanyahu changes the subject – to Iran

Ahead of his Monday meeting with Obama, who supports a two-state solution, the Israeli prime minister wants to make Iran’s nuclear ambitions the focus of regional diplomacy.

By Tom A. Peter | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the May 15, 2009 edition

AMMAN, JORDAN – In advance of his meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday, conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has engaged in a flurry of diplomacy with neighboring Arab leaders this week.

On Monday, he met with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, followed by a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Thursday, reportedly to express his intention to engage in talks with Palestinian leaders. Next week, he is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.Just six weeks into his second term, Mr. Netanyahu has so far shown little interest in making concessions, and – most troubling to Arab leaders – he has not expressed support for a Palestinian state. He has instead cast Iranian nuclear ambitions as his nation’s main concern and is expected to appeal for Mr. Obama’s support on this issue during their forthcoming meeting.

The US shares Israel’s concern about Iran, whose president has called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map.”


‘Hostage killed’ in Nigeria Delta

A hostage being held by Nigerian oil militants has been killed during a military attack, they have claimed.


The hostage was a Filipino sailor seized from the boat the MV Spirit on Thursday morning, militants said.

An army spokesman has said a militant camp was “torched” in an operation, but denied claims it had bombed a village.

The militants have now declared an “all-out war” on the military as gun battles continued for a third day this week in the southern swamps.

“One hostage has been killed by stray bullets from the Nigerian army who attacked an area they were being held in Delta State,” a spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said in a statement.

The group took at least 15 people hostage from two ships in the early hours of Thursday.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • RiaD on May 16, 2009 at 14:14

    i’m a bit busy this morning, but will return to read this with lunch.

    thanks for having such wonderful news round-ups for me to peruse at my leisure.

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