Saturday, November 28, 2009

In The News

-Government settles for $3 million with ex-DEA agent alleging illegal State Department and CIA interference with his anti-narcotic efforts in Burma in the 1990s.

-Today, the New York Times reports on Afghan allegations of a secret 'black jail' at Bagram Air Base near Kabul:

The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.

“The black jail was the most dangerous and fearful place,” said Hamidullah, a spare-parts dealer in Kandahar who said he was detained there in June. “They don’t let the I.C.R.C. officials or any other civilians see or communicate with the people they keep there. Because I did not know what time it was, I did not know when to pray.”

The prison is run by Special Operations forces.

It should be noted that although President Obama signed an order closing all CIA "black sites" in January, the order contained a loophole allowing the CIA to continue operating temporary detention facilities abroad.

-President Obama has decided to send an additional 30,000 or so American forces to Afghanistan in an effort to ensure terrorist networks can no longer operate out of Afghanistan. According to the Washington Times:

He [Obama] repeated his contention that the American goal was not to build Afghanistan into a modern, well-functioning state -- something that most experts think is well beyond the capability of any outside force. Instead, he said, it will be to turn the largely lawless and hardscrabble corner of the globe into a place that is sufficiently stable so al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate effectively.

"We are going to dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately dismantle and destroy their networks. And Afghanistan's stability is important to that process," the president said.

-A Chinese magazine, Outlook, ran an expose detailing the Chinese government's system of secret jails used to detain petitioners seeking redress from the central government in Beijing.

-A 10-month freeze on settlement building by the Israelis in the occupied West Bank announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a bit misleading. According to Ethan Bronner of the New York Times:

The 10-month settlement freeze excludes more than 2,500 housing units being built or recently authorized. The moratorium allows a limited number of schools, synagogues and community centers, the kind of “natural growth” banned by the dormant 2003 “road map” for peace, agreed to by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

In other words, although this represents a painful political concession by the Israeli government and is causing it internal trouble, there will never be a moment in the coming months when construction will stop in West Bank settlements.

And Israeli building in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital, will be unaffected.

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