Watching the Shadows
Louai Sakra, a supposed al-Qaeda operative held responsible for the November 2003 bombings in Istanbul and plans to launch attacks against cruise liners carrying Israeli tourists in Turkish ports, was arrested by Turkish authorities in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir last week. The apprehension of the Syrian national was hailed by the British embassy as "a significant success in the global struggle against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations." (MSNBC, Aug. 17)
The apparent reality that a mock bombing drill on the London Underground was scheduled for the morning of 7-7 has got the conspiranoids seeing patterns. They also point to Pentagon terror drills on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 (see e.g., Prison Planet). We also recently noted a FEMA drill apparently slated for New York City the day after 9-11.
The US government is seeking dismissal of a case brought by a "rendition" victim who says he was tortured in Syria, citing rarely used "state secret privilege." US officials argued Aug. 9 in a Brooklyn court that the case should be dismissed because it would "force the government to reveal classified information" about the plaintiff's alleged ties to al-Qaeda. Maher Arar, a Canadian software engineer who also holds Syrian citizenship, was detained when he was changing flights at New York's JFK Airport to return to Ottawa from Damascus in September 2002. He was sent to Syria, where he says he was tortured for 10 months. Thanks largely to the efforts of his wife in Canada, he was eventually released by the Syrian government, which claims it did not torture him. Arar denies any terror links and was never charged with a crime. He now charges the US government with violating the Torture Victim Protection Act and his Fifth Amendment right to due process.
At Unocal's final shareholder's meeting Aug. 10, an overwhelming majority approved the $17.5 billion merger with Chevron. Chief Executive Charles Williamson said Unocal considered a sale only after being approached months ago by China National Offshore Oil -- known as CNOOC -- which wanted to buy the California-based oil company. Unocal then solicited offers from other outfits, ultimately choosing Chevron on April 4.
An Aug. 9 AP story (online at TruthOut) reveals that Judge John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, was on a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that ruled last month to allow military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Lawyers for one detainee have now appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
A lawsuit filed Aug. 8 against US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reveals the gratuitous cruelty inflicted on a foreign student held without charges for more than two years as an "enemy combatant" in a South Carolina naval brig, Human Rights Watch said in a press release.
An interesting development in the extremely contentious Valerie Plame affair: Deputy Attorney General James Comey, the only Justice Department official overseeing special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak scandal, is leaving to take a job in the private sector. And his likely successor, Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum, is—like the incumbent president whose administration may be responsible for the leak—a Yale Skull & Bonesman! Via TruthOut:
Amnesty International has released testimony from two Yemeni men now detained in their own country, who were recently transfered there from Guantanamo Bay but also told of being held at a secret US detention facility at an unknown location where they were tortured. The men say they were held in solitary confinement at an underground facility and interrogated by masked men for more than 18 months without being charged or allowed any contact with the outside world. Amnesty argued that the reports add to long-standing claims that the US has held "secret detainees" at an international network of clandestine prisons. "We fear that what we have heard from these two men is just one small part of the much broader picture of US secret detentions around the world," said Sharon Critoph, an Amnesty researcher who interviewed the men in Yemen.