“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Strange Saga of Wikileaks

You have to ask yourself, who is permitting the Wikileaks data dump to continue? Surely if Obama, The Pentagon or the CIA wished to silence Wikileaks, they would be silenced. No?

Iraq war logs: Obama must investigate torture claims, says UN envoy

Manfred Nowak says US is obliged to examine claims that military handed over Iraqi detainees knowing they might be killed

Basra pullout criticised
Files on the Iraq conflict published on Wikileak suggest that US military forces may have violated UN agreements on torture. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

The UN's chief investigator on torture says that if leaked US files on the Iraq conflict point to clear violations of the UN convention against torture,Barack Obama's administration has a clear obligation to investigate them.

The 400,000 documents, released by the website WikiLeaks in the biggest leak in US military history, paint a disturbing picture of the relationship between US and Iraqi forces. They have fostered suspicions that US forces handed over detainees to their Iraqi counterparts knowing there was a risk they were going to be tortured or killed.

Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur, said under the conventions on human rights there is an obligation for states to criminalise every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and to investigate any allegations of abuse.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Nowak, who has spent years investigating allegations of US participation in extraordinary rendition and the abuse of detainees held by coalition forces, said: "President Obama came to power with a moral agenda, saying: 'We don't want to be seen to be a nation responsible for major human rights violations'."

A failure to investigate credible claims of US forces' complicity in torture, Nowak suggested, would be a failure of the Obama government to recognise US obligations under international law. He said that the principle of "non-refoulement" prohibited states from transferring detainees to other countries that could pose a risk to their personal safety.

The documents, which cover the period in Iraq from 2004 onwards, have prompted claims that this principle has not been observed, according to those who have studied them.

Nowak said the US had an obligation "whenever they expel, extradite or hand over any detainees to the authorities of another state to assess whether or not these individuals are under specific risk of torture. If this assessment is not done, or authorities hand over detainees knowing there is a serious risk of them being subjected to torture, they violate article 3 of the UN convention that precludes torture."

Nowak said it would be up to the Obama administration to launch an "independent and objective" investigation with a view not only to "bring the perpetrators to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation".

He admitted possible sanctions to ensure "powerful states like the United States of America" fulfilled their obligations were "extremely weak". Neither the US nor Iraq had ratified the international criminal convention that would see officials from either country brought before the international courts for war crimes.

Nowak said it was not enough for Obama's administration to suggest the alleged crimes took place before it came to power. "There is an obligation to investigate whenever there are credible allegations," Nowak said, pointing to the administration's decision to end rendition flights as proof it had recognised the need to recognise its obligations under international law and draw a line under the actions of its predecessor.

But he suggested it would ultimately be up to the US courts to determine whether US officials or soldiers had breached human rights laws. "If it is established that a particular individual is responsible for torture directly or by complicity, this person should be brought to justice in the domestic courts," Nowak said.

In Washington there is fury at the latest revelations, following an earlier massive leak of classified documents relating to Afghanistan. The Pentagon has claimed the information published by WikiLeaks will serve only to strengthen America's enemies, but is also arguing that the documents reveal nothing that is not already known.


  1. Regarding the previous thread: Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage lender, announced Record Profits this quarter.

  2. You have to ask yourself, who is permitting the Wikileaks data dump to continue? Surely if Obama, The Pentagon or the CIA wished to silence Wikileaks, they would be silenced. No?


    Not when all you have to do these days is push a keyboard key to transfer vasts amounts of info instead of smuggling out hundreds of pounds of documents in your pants.

    Not these days when you have government workers of every political stripe making up 20% of your population.

    It will all come out.


    You might be able to still hide a crime here or there. Twenty minutes erased from a tape. Knowledge of some obscure illegal/unethical study on syphilis or maybe cloning can probably still be delayed for decades.

    But nothing on this scale. Not when the entire world is watching.

    Another measure of the hubris of those in power.


  3. Bill Clinton said, "trying to regulate the internet is like trying to nail jello to the wall."

    Bubba got it right every now and then.

  4. What living human being didn't know the Iraqis tortured prisoners?

  5. "Not these days when you have government workers of every political stripe making up 20% of your population."

    Son got an intense anal exam to get his top secret, segmented etc clearance, but reminded us that every sleazebag politician (and their staffs) have almost equal access.

  6. But I think Deuce's point is similar to mine:

    Any aggregator the size of Wikileaks could and should be taken out by whatever means necessary, and the NY Times and the rest should be made to understand that they would pay big time for publishing the stuff.

  7. Maybe they're considering the Wachovia loans, Doug. Or, maybe I got it wrong. :)

  8. The "Command" structure is no longer capable of fighting a war. The reason the douchebag will go unpunished is he's more like the powers that be than are the troops.

  9. We have Rangers getting pedicures, and Marines guarding the poppy fields.

    We're just wasting our young men for Boeing, and General Dynamics, and Pentagon Generals.

  10. Quirk:
    Sat Oct 23, 10:08:00 AM EDT


  11. Trish was probably right: A bunch of disgruntled ex-enlisted men.

    I wear it with pride.

  12. I heard more common sense from E-4s and under in 1965-1967 than was coming from our rulers and masters.

  13. There's more of us than there is of them.

  14. And, we are, as a general rule, better armed. :)

  15. American housing too expensive and the multi-income trap will not save the housing market.

    Banks have laundered their bad bets through the Federal Reserve and GSEs while working and middle class income has eroded.

    American housing too expensive and the multi-income trap will not save the housing market. Banks have laundered their bad bets through the Federal Reserve and GSEs while working and middle class income has eroded.

    The banks have an effective way of laundering money. First, they proclaim that they are turning a “profit” with TARP funds but fail to mention the trillions of dollars of leverage they garner through the Federal Reserve. The cost is indirect through inflation and the debasing of the U.S. dollar.

    That is why today, when people ask me what is at the root of the housing problem I tell them that home prices are simply too expensive because incomes are weak.

  16. Remember, Rufus:
    Trish said them pedicures are important under certain circumstances.

    Hard for me to conjure up what for, other than a Peter Sellers movie.

  17. Lunch at the Pentagon.

  18. We've become a caricature.

  19. Oh, wait, "pedicures." Hmm

    Do they eat barefoot at the Pentagon?

    Okay, I give up. Ya got me. I can't figure it out.

  20. Gotta go buy some coffee.

    Maybe a third cup of French Roast will help me figure out why Rangers need pedicures.

    or, why U.S. Marines should be guarding Taliban Poppy Fields.

    Or why we shouldn't string every living worthless motherfucker in Washington up from the nearest light pole.

  21. We've become a caricature.

    True enough.

    I used to laugh at those who blamed the 'Baby Boomers'. Now I'm not so sure.

    It's easy to say that the left, the government, big business, Wall Street, the PC crowd, etc. where the problem and that the 'silent majority' never bought into all the bullshit; however, there are sins of ommission as well as sins of commission.

    We let them get away with it without major protest.


  22. "however, there are sins of ommission as well as sins of commission.

    We let them get away with it without major protest.


    Like pretending that the Anti-American Educationists were taking good care of our kids.

    ...about the only thing the wife and I did right.

    Wish so many others hadn't kiss their kids goodbye 'cause they had other things to do.

  23. The pedicure is our caricature.

  24. Sins of Omission:

    We trusted the elites. We trusted Greenspan, and GW Bush. We trusted Jaime Dimond, and Jack Welsh. We thought the bankers knew how to bank, and that the politicians were working for us.

    We were naive (and, thus, not completely blameless,) but mostly we were betrayed.

    We understood that the big banks, and corps would throw us under the bus if the politicians let them, but we didn't think the politicos would let them.

    We were just, mostly, Dumb.

  25. Sounds like some of you might be in the mood for the kind of video Mattie sent us a link to:

    Debunking Money #1: Money, Myth, and Machiavelli | Council on Renewal -

    Debunking Money #2: Orwell and the Animal Farm | Council on Renewal -

  26. So what, it's all business now. No more horoscopes?

    Tsk Tsk…

  27. I don't mind a good leak or two.

    Not this kind of course.

  28. On the other hand the global warming leaks were a real boon, showing the depth of the fraud.

    Here people might die.

    Surely this guy has committed some kind of crime passing this stuff on that came into his hands who knows how.

  29. Makes us look good---

    WikiLeaks' Iraq War Scoops
    Some of these Pentagon papers are new, interesting—and make Iraqis and Iranians look worse than Americans.
    By Fred KaplanPosted Friday, Oct. 22, 2010, at 7:53 PM ET

    The latest cache of WikiLeaks documents—291,832 of them, leaked from the Pentagon's secret archives on the Iraq war—are now up, in summarized form, on the Web sites of the New York Times, Britain's Guardian, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel.

    Judging from the excerpts and analyses in the English-language papers, the documents contain a few new and interesting things, some of which may not please the war critics who tend to be among WikiLeaks' biggest fans.

    First, it seems that Pentagon officials were keeping a log of civilian casualties, though spokesmen frequently said at the time that they weren't. A secret Defense Department report estimated that just over 100,000 noncombatants were killed between 2004 and 2009.

    The WikiLeaks documents reveal some previously unknown instances of casualties caused by Americans—for instance, a 2007 incident in which an Apache helicopter crew killed two Iraqis who were trying to surrender. More intriguing, this helicopter had the same call sign, "Crazyhorse 18," as the Apache that later accidentally killed two Reuters reporters.

    However, the bigger finding is that, at least according to the Pentagon's secret report, most Iraqi civilian deaths were caused by other Iraqis. The report calculates 31,780 Iraqis killed by roadside bombs and 34,814 by sectarian killings (notated as "murders").


  30. Tsk Tsk…

    I started today. Since it's Scorpio, I ought to have it done today. (Tonight?)


  31. When your ball sack is immersed in freezing water can you leak, b-o?