Thursday, 19 August 2010

Liberty Mugged and Murdered

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This is a story of oppression and atrocities, of a supposedly constitutional government mushrooming into dictatorship, of a once-free people shrugging at the coup so long as their wardens claim to keep them safe. It's a tragic tale in every way. And it just keeps getting worse.

Ramzi Binalshibh is one of the alleged masterminds of 9/11 — a contender for the title of "20th hijacker" who couldn't secure an American visa despite numerous attempts. That kept him overseas plotting and coordinating rather than boarding planes here that fateful September morning. If you believe the Feds' explanation of 9/11 and their evidence against Mr. Binalshibh, the man does seem guilty — but of what? Terrorism? Or of fighting back against the United States' unconstitutional meddling overseas? Hard to say because Mr. Binalshibh has yet to face trial: for the last eight years, he's rotted in Gitmo while the Feds thumb their noses at habeas corpus.

The other chapters of Mr. Binalshibh's chronicle are equally shameful and infuriating. First, his capture in 2002: not by soldiers in the army the Constitution authorizes but by the CIA's "Special Activities Division," one of the agency's "secret paramilitary units" that was skulking around Pakistan. Search the Constitution from its Preamble to the 27th Amendment, and you'll find nothing authorizing the CIA, let alone empowering it or any bureaucracy to field an army.

Second, the "interrogation": "Binalshibh, who was captured last week in Pakistan, has been handed over to U.S. authorities and moved out of that country." Why? Because, as an anonymous "senior State Department official" explained at the time, "The first focus is to find out what he knows." You might suppose, then, that the Feds would have shanghaied the guy to their headquarters in DC. But no: "U.S. investigators are not pressing for Binalshibh to be brought to the United States at the moment."

Strange, isn't it? When cops arrest a perp, especially a notorious one, they hustle him to their station-house for a little chat. Instead, Mr. Binalshibh was "taken to an undisclosed third country for further interrogation, officials said."

That third country turned out to be Morocco, a nation whose government is every bit as thuggish as ours though not as squeamish: it not only tortures its own subjects, it subcontracts for other regimes.  And so Mr. Binalshibh disappeared into "a Moroccan-run facility the CIA used near Rabat in 2002."

Behold the Feds' nauseating fastidiousness: their "counterterrorism program known as Greystone ... authorized the CIA to hold terrorists in secret prisons and shuttle them to other countries..." We wouldn't want the unconstitutional CIA unconstitutionally imprisoning victims and unconstitutionally torturing them in American territory, now, would we?

These tyrants played the same horrific game when it came to finance and management: AP described the "unusual nature of the Moroccan prison, which was largely financed by the CIA but run by Moroccans ... The CIA could move detainees in and out, and oversee the interrogations, but officially, Morocco had control." So the CIA didn't actually fire the gun it bought, it merely watched as others did. How many inmates convicted of murder made similar pleas at their trials? They'll spend the rest of their lives in prison while despots who insult us with such sophistry live high on our taxes. What does it say of Leviathan's unspeakable wickedness, and the beast's own cynical view of us, that it attempts to whitewash torture by committing it overseas?

The Feds continue abusing Mr. Binalshibh to this day. While denying him a trial, they dose him with "a potent cocktail of anti-psychotic medications" because he supposedly suffers from schizophrenia. But his "unpredictable behavior," which "include[es] breaking cameras in his cell and smearing them with feces," seems entirely rational: who wouldn't want to disable cameras spying on him 24/7? Would that Americans so vehemently opposed the Feds' surveillance of their activities! Mr. Binalshibh has "also been delusional," "court documents" allege, "believing the CIA was shaking his bed and cell." Given all the other punishments these goons have inflicted, why is Mr. Binalshibh "delusional" to accuse them of this as well? "He also thought something was crawling all over his body." You and I might think so, too, were Leviathan forcing "potent cocktails" on us.

We pan from Mr. Binalshibh to the Feds for the next outrages on our list. These animals apparently didn't learn from Richard Nixon's example: they not only recorded their "harsh interrogations" of Mr. Binalshibh and others, they then erased 92 of those tapes. These had focused on the torture of two other alleged terrorists, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri. And yep, we can debate what most violates the Constitution, common decency, and simple morality — the torture itself or the pathetic cover-up. Ah, but fear not: "a Justice Department prosecutor [is] already probing whether destroying the Zubaydah and al-Nashiri recordings were illegal..." How far we have fallen, and at what breakneck speeds, that there can be any question!

It gets still worse: though the CIA thought it had erased all proof of its brutalities, its sins found it out. It forgot it had also recorded Binalshibh at least thrice. Two video- and one audio-tapes survive, which "a staffer discovered [in] a box tucked under a desk in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center" in 2007. And about which the CIA promptly lied: "Twice, the government told a federal judge they did not exist."

Meanwhile, our rulers consider the whole thing one big laugh - with us as the butt: "'It's amazing how many times people would find things in boxes under their desks,' a former senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News. ‘It was an inside joke — if you ever need something, look under your desk.' When asked if America would be safer is [sic] all the materials in boxes under intelligence desks were unearthed, the official said, ‘Well, at least more entertained.'"

The farce becomes a footnote in the hands of the corporate media. They spin it as a mere historical gloss: "The new details about Mr. bin al-Shibh's detention, first reported Tuesday by The Associated Press, shed light on Morocco's role as a holding site for suspected members of Al Qaeda captured by the United States."

Wrong. They illuminate nothing less than Liberty's mugging and murder.


Becky Akers
, an expert on the American Revolution, writes frequently about issues related to security and privacy. Her articles and columns have been published by Lewrockwell.com, The Freeman, Military History Magazine, American History Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Post, and other publications.