Amnesty International called upon countries to ban fully autonomous weapons systems on the first day of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems meeting. Amnesty states that technology related to advanced weapons systems is outpacing international law. Future technologies may be able to replicate human responses, including "the ability to analyse the intentions behind people's actions, to assess and respond to often dynamic and unpredictable situations, or make complex decisions about the proportionality or necessity of an attack." A complete ban on fully autonomous weapons is necessary in order to avoid possible "dystopian" futures. Human interaction should be required by law to be involved in the identification, selection, and engagement of targets in advanced weapons. (Photo: Future of Life Institute)
The European Court of Human Rights found that Lithuania and Romania had violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing secret CIA prisons to operate on their territory. Lithuania had allowed the CIA to open a "black site" on its territory, where the CIA subjected the applicant, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn AKA Abu Zubaydah, to "ill-treatment and arbitrary detention." Lithuania must pay Husayn 130,000 euros ($150,000). The applicant in the Romania case, Abd al-Rahim Husseyn Muhammad al-Nashiri, was transported to a "black site" on that country's territory territory, and faced capital charges in the US. The court apprehended Romania for transferring al-Nashiri to the US when it was likely he would face the death penalty. Romania must pay the applicant 100,000 euros ($115,000). Both men remain interned at Guantánamo Bay. (Photo: WikimediaCommons)
In Episode Nine of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against "Red-Brown Politics," the dangerous notion of an alliance between the left and fascist right against liberalism and the West—now evidenced in the growing support for the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad on both the "anti-war" (sic) "left" (sic) and the "alt-right." Leading lights of the American "left" have joined pro-Assad delegations to Syria, as have figures on the fascist right. Emerging as the global representative for this sinister trend is Russo-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, who is bringing together supposed peaceniks and neo-fascists around supporting despots like Putin and Assad in the name of a "multi-polar" world. Weinberg urges that leftists utterly reject overtures from the radical right, and adopt a single-standard anti-fascism—which must inlcude solidarity with the Syrian Revolution. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last week issued a pressingly important report, “The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.” It refreshingly called out “red-brown populist collaboration”—documenting the growing convergence between figures on the supposed “left” and the radical, even fascist right, both in the US and in Europe. Playing a critical role is Russo-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, who is bringing together supposed peaceniks and neo-fascists around supporting despots like Putin and Assad in the name of a “multi-polar” world. But, depressingly, at the first howls of protest from this very Red-Brown alliance, SPLC folded like punks, removing the report from their website and issuing a pusillanimous apology.
The Trump administration has yet to repatriate Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi to Saudi Arabia, effectively missing the deadline established in his 2014 plea deal. Darbi pleaded guilty and admitted to involvement in al-Qaeda operations including the 2002 attack on a a French-flagged oil tanker near Yemen. In his pre-trial agreement, it was determined that, contingent on his cooperation, he would be sent back to Saudi Arabia to serve the duration of his sentence. Feb. 20 marked four years from the close of the deal and Darbi was not repatriated to Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Donald Trump signed an executive order to continue operations at the Guantánamo detention center—not only allowing those currently detained to remain detained, but also permitting the US to bring new persons to the facility. The order comes the same day Trump pledged "to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay" in his State of the Union address—to applause from Republican lawmakers. It also comes nearly nine years to the day after Obama's executive order to begin the process of closing the facility. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Military judge James Pohl ruled that no wrongdoing occurred when he authorized the destruction of a CIA secret prison, or "black site," despite the fact that a protection order was in effect on any remains from the CIA black sites. Prosecutors, citing national security powers, obtained permission from the judge to give defense attorneys photographs and a diagram of the site as a substitute for preservation the actual facility. The question concerned the admissibility of evidence possibly extracted by torture in the 9-11 case now underway at Guantánamo Bay. From 2002-2006, prisoners at the black site were subjected to waterboarding, sexual abuse, and other forms of torture. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Eleven Guantánamo inmates filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, claiming their indefinite detention is due to President Trump's anti-Muslim bias. The inmates argue they can only be legally kept at Guantánamo if their individual circumstances show they would otherwise return to the battlefield. The suit claims that Trump's declaration that all Guantánamo inmates will remain at the prison camp does not take into account circumstances, but is based on Trump's antipathy toward Muslims. (Photo: Wikimedia)
After the Washington Post cited FBI sources to the effect that at least one recent contributor to Counterpunch was a "probable Russian troll," editor Jeffrey St. Clair responds by defending "pro-Russian" bias, pointing to instances of "bias" in favor of horrible things like torture and nuclear strikes by mainstream wonks. So much for the notion of the "alternative media" actually taking a higher standard than the dreaded "MSM," and actually providing an alternative. Instead the idea seems to be that if they can run sinister propaganda, so can we. (Photo: Wikipedia)
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer issued a statement calling on the US to end impunity for "perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse" at Guantánamo Bay and other detention facilities. He added that that he has information that Guantánamo detainee Ammar al-Baluchi, awaiting trial in the 9-11 case before a military tribunal, is still being tortured despite the banning of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."
The US Supreme Court declined to review a lawsuit over a drone strike in Yemen that killed five people. An appeals court dismissed the lawsuit by the families of two Yemeni men allegedly killed by the strike in 2012. The plaintiffs argued that two family members were victims of a "'signature strike," an attack in which the US illegally "targets an unidentified person…based on a pattern of suspicious behavior as identified through metadata."
American Conservative finally gave far-right ex-spook Philip Giraldi the sack over rank anti-Semitism after one of his evil screeds was tweeted by Valerie Plame. Would that some of our supposed allies in the Palestine struggle were as principled as our conservative enemies. Counterpunch, ANSWER, Al-Awda and MondoWeiss continue to promote Giraldi and/or his equally vile sidekick Alison Weir. Image: frgdr.com