(touchstoneblog.org.uk) There’s something sick-making about the richest people in the world complaining that they’re unloved and hard done by. But that’s what we’re getting on a regular basis from fat cat bankers. From Bob Diamond of Barclays’ appeal to the Finance Select Committee to ‘let it go’ with the demands for contrition from the finance sector for bringing the world to its knees just a year or two ago, to JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon’s tirade against banker bashing in Davos, and Friday’s meeting between the world’s top bankers and various Finance Ministers at Davos, financiers barely have enough time to count their bonus payments what with all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. As Howard Davies, once head of the CBI and now head of the London School of Economics put it on his FT blog, “Bankers and creatures of that ilk rather go for austerity, as long as it’s not theirs.” Not all Finance Ministers were cowed by this naked demand for self-interest. France’s Christine Lagarde responded to thanks for the bank bailout by saying “good financing and sensible compensation” would be better forms of thanks. Compare and contrast this with UK Chancellor George Osborne’s feeble response, “we do need to move on”. It’s not as if Lagarde is a socialist – she’s a former corporate lawyer in a right-wing government. But at least she has a spine. Liam Halligan in the Telegraph noted that banker chutzpah in Davos was ominous because it forestalled still-needed reforms:
The structural banking reforms we so desperately require are still a very long way from being agreed. The chances now are, given the Davos mood music, that they never will be.
It isn’t as if the bankers actually have to face any austerity, as this year’s bonus figures (often on top of increased salaries designed to beat Labour’s bonus windfall tax last year) are beginning to show, and as the overall tax position of the banks (increased taxes are being more than cancelled out by new loopholes, offsets and lower corporation tax) gets richer and richer. No, this whingeing is preventive in intent: a defence against any future attacks and a demand for further opportunities to plunge their snouts in the trough, or perhaps to forestall being asked for tax-payers’ bailout money back. Perhaps they just can’t kick the habit and need bigger and bigger doses of cash, or they sense some sort of Tunisian/Egyptian moment brewing and are filling their boots in case they need to make a fast getaway.
by Owen Tudor
(GreenLeft) Ongoing mass demonstrations, strikes and riots have rocked Egypt since January 25.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in national protests on January 25 to demand an end to the United States-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
The regime has responded with brutality. AlJazeera.net reported on January 29 that 36 people were confirmed to have been killed in Alexandria.
The regime has responded to the unrest by shutting down the internet — a key organising tool of the protests — across the country.
On January 28, Mubarak sought to stabilise his regime by dismissing his government. He promised changes to address the issues behind the revolt, pledging to tackle poverty, unemployment and corruption as well as introduce democratic reforms.
However, AlJazeera.net reported that protesters have remained on the streets, defying the regime’s nighttime curfew.
US Socialist Worker’s Lee Sustar spoke to International Socialist Review editor Ahmed Shawki, recently returned from Cairo, and Egyptian-American activist Mostafa Omar about the significance of the protests. A longer version of the interview can be read at www.socialistworker.org .
You can also see live streaming from Egypt, as well as a live blog updates, videos and articles, at www.aljazeera.net .
Some footage from the uprising in Egypt. A protester declares: “We will not be silenced. Whether you are a Muslim, a Christian or an Atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights. And we will have our rights, one way or another, we will never be silenced.”
(EFF.org) EFF has uncovered widespread violations stemming from FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 – 2008. In a report released today, EFF documents alarming trends in the Bureau’s intelligence investigation practices, suggesting that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed.
Using documents obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, the report finds:
• Evidence of delays of 2.5 years, on average, between the occurrence of a violation and its eventual reporting to the Intelligence Oversight Board
• Reports of serious misconduct by FBI agents including lying in declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas, and accessing password-protected files without a warrant
• Indications that the FBI may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the 9 years since 9/11
EFF’s report stems from analysis of nearly 2,500 pages of FBI documents, consisting of reports of FBI intelligence violations made to the Intelligence Oversight Board — an independent, civilian intelligence-monitoring board that reports to the President on the legality of foreign and domestic intelligence operations. The documents constitute the most complete picture of post-9/11 FBI intelligence abuses available to the public. Our earlier analysis of the documents showed the FBI’s arbitrary disclosure practices.
EFF’s report underscores the need for greater transparency and oversight in the intelligence community. As part of our ongoing effort to inform the public and elected officials about abusive intelligence investigations, we are distributing copies of the report to members of Congress.
A pdf copy of the report can be downloaded here.
by Mark Rumold
(Wlcentral.org) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced on Egyptian state television today that he has sworn in a new vice president, former Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. US state cable 07CAIRO1417 states that according to Article 82 of Egypt’s constitution, the vice president should assume presidential powers “if on account of any temporary obstacle the president is unable to carry out his duties.”
So who is the new vice president who, in the seemingly imminent departure of President Mubarak will begin ruling Egypt? Jane Mayer asks the question in her article today in the New Yorker, and answers it with information from her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. “Since 1993 Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances.”
She also references Stephen Grey’s book Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program “beginning in the nineteen-nineties, Suleiman negotiated directly with top Agency officials. Every rendition was greenlighted at the highest levels of both the U.S. and Egyptian intelligence agencies. Edward S. Walker, Jr., a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, described Suleiman as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way.”
According to Mayer Technically, U.S. law required the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from Egypt that rendered suspects wouldn’t face torture. But under Suleiman’s reign at the intelligence service, such assurances were considered close to worthless. As Michael Scheuer, a former C.I.A. officer who helped set up the practice of rendition, later testified before Congress, even if such “assurances” were written in indelible ink, “they weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”
“Suave, sophisticated, and fluent in English, he has served for years as the main conduit between the United States and Mubarak.” says Mayer. US state cable 09CAIRO746 describes Admiral Mullen’s April 21, 2009 meeting with Suleiman and cable 09CAIRO1349 describes a June 29, 2009 meeting between Suleiman and General Petraeus. From cable 05CAIRO5924
In the context of the close and sustained cooperation between the USG and GOE on counterterrorism, Post believes that the written GOE assurances regarding the return of three Egyptians detained at Guantanamo (reftel) represent the firm commitment of the GOE to adhere to the requested principles. These assurances were passed directly from Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS) Chief Soliman through liaison channels — the most effective communication path on this issue. General Soliman’s word is the GOE’s guarantee, and the GOE’s track record of cooperation on CT issues lends further support to this assessment.
Post has received written assurances from the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS) regarding the acceptance and humane treatment of three Egyptians currently detained in Guantanamo:
- Abdul Rahman Mohammed AL-MARZOUQ, ISN US9EG-00369DP;
- Allah Muhammad SALEEM, ISN US9EG-00071DP;
- Sami Abdul Aziz Salim ALLAITHY, ISN US9EG-000287DP.
Post believes that these assurances represent a firm commitment by the GOE to handle the matter in accordance with our stated principles. We recommend that the interagency consider approving transfer now on the basis of these assurances.
Post has established that the most effective conduit for addressing this issue is through Cairo Station – EGIS Liaison. The written assurances (reftel) were passed directly from EGIS Chief General Soliman through this channel. General Soliman’s stature and power in the Egyptian establishment, and his history of close cooperation with the USG on counterterrorism, corroborate the Egyptian intent take responsibility for the detainees in such a way that protects both U.S. and Egyptian security interests. In addition to the written assurances regarding the detainees treatment, EGIS has conveyed orally to Cairo station that all three will be taken into custody upon arrival in Egypt and will be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with Egyptian law.
We understand the need for specific language on this matter. However, the danger of seeking specificity beyond what we have already received in EGIS’ written assurances is that EGIS may decide to turn the case over to the MFA. MFA involvement will complicate the process and delay disposal of the cases.
The Washington Post, in predicting Suleiman’s appointment yesterday, pointed out
In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Suleiman as the Middle East’s most powerful intelligence chief, ahead of Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
In an observation that may turn out to be ironic, the magazine wrote, “More than from any other single factor, Suleiman’s influence stems from his unswerving loyalty to Mubarak.”
Stephen Soldz has an article in OpEdNews
Stephen Grey, in Ghost Plane, his investigative work on the rendition program also points to Suleiman as central in the rendition program:
“To negotiate these assurances [that the Egyptians wouldn’t “torture” the prisoner delivered for torture] the CIA dealt principally in Egypt through Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian general intelligence service (EGIS) since 1993. It was he who arranged the meetings with the Egyptian interior ministry…. Suleiman, who understood English well, was an urbane and sophisticated man. Others told me that for years Suleiman was America’s chief interlocutor with the Egyptian regime — the main channel to President Hosni Mubarak himself, even on matters far removed from intelligence and security.”
Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured by Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, torture by Pakistanis. He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited Suleiman’s personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on Habib’s memoir:
Habib was interrogated by the country’s Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman…. Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before 9/11, he was under suspicion. Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.
That treatment wasn’t enough for Suleiman, so:
To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib -” and he did, with a vicious karate kick.
After Suleiman’s men extracted Habib’s confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His “confession” was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial.
JANUARY 30, 2011
DEAR CITIZENS OF THE WORLD,
We, Anonymous, revile the extreme violence organized by the repressive Algerian regime against its opposition on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011. We hereby express our solidarity towards the Algerian people and our deepest sympathies for the injured and their families. It is for the sake of their plight that we have begun launching attacks on Algerian government websites. Furthermore, we will actively participate in the Day of Change organised by the opposition on Saturday February 12th, 2011. We will vigilantly ensure that Algerians’ efforts are successful, while remaining constant in reminding our fellow comrades that violence is not a part of our agenda. We urge the Algerian government to respect and honour the fundamental rights of its citizenry.
Freedom of expression is an inalienable right that no regime may trample on without paying a hefty price for its reprehensible actions. We, Anonymous, demand an end to the state of emergency that has gripped the country since 1992. This law stifles the citizenry’s legitimate aspirations towards liberty, and undermines the basis of the Rule of Law. Following the ongoing, unprecedented demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, it is imperative that the Algerian government heed the calls for justice. If the government fails to act accordingly, the situation will continue to deteriorate. A revolutionary wind is blowing across the Arab world, one which will not subside until freedoms are secured. We call upon the Algerian government in good faith to reflect upon the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, in order to avoid reproducing any form of bloodshed.
We, Anonymous, hereby vow to continue supporting the Algerian people. When faced with injustice, corruption and repression, we will always stand by the oppressed. We invite all Algerians to join us. The beginning of 2011 has proven to the world that change is possible and that even the most authoritarian regimes cannot resist a People united to preserve Mankind’s most basic right: freedom.
BREAD, PEACE, FREEDOM
These are our desires for the benefit of humanity
Do not forget:
WE ARE ANONYMOUS
WE ARE LEGION
WE DO NOT FORGET OPPRESSIVE ACTS
WE DO NOT FORGIVE INJUSTICES
THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM NEEDS YOU NOW