If we don’t rebel, if we’re not physically in an active rebellion, then it’s spiritual death.” ― Chris Hedges

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mr PotatoHead gets a knuckling from Lord Monkton


Tuesday, January 5, 2010
A letter sent from The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

His Excellency Mr. Kevin Rudd,


1 January 2010


Prime Minister, Commonwealth of Australia.

Prime Minister,

Climate change: proposed personal briefing

Your speech on 6 November 2009 to the Lowy Institute, in which you publicly expressed some concern at my approach to the climate question, has prompted several leading Australian citizens to invite me come on tour to explain myself in a series of lectures in Australia later this month. I am writing to offer personal briefings on why “global warming” is a non-problem to you and other party leaders during my visit. For convenience, I am copying this letter to them, and to the Press.

Your speech mentioned my remarks about the proposal for world “government” in the early drafts of what had been intended as a binding Copenhagen Treaty. These proposals were not, as you suggested, a “conspiracy theory” from the “far right” with “zero basis in evidence”. Your staff will find them in paragraphs 36-38 of the main text of Annex 1 to the 15 September draft of the Treaty. The word “government” appears twice at paragraph 38. After much adverse publicity in democratic countries, including Australia, the proposals were reluctantly dropped before Copenhagen.

You say I am one of “those who argue that any multilateral action is by definition evil”. On the contrary: my first question is whether any action at all is required, to which – as I shall demonstrate – the objective economic and scientific answer is No. Even if multilateral action were required, which it is not, national governments in the West are by tradition democratically elected. Therefore, a fortiori, transnational or global governments should also be made and unmade by voters at the ballot-box. The climate ought not to be used as a shoddy pretext for international bureaucratic-centralist dictatorship. We committed Europeans have had more than enough of that already with the unelected but all-powerful Kommissars of the hated EU, who make nine-tenths of our laws by decree (revealingly, they call them “Directives” or “Commission Regulations”). The Kommissars (that is the official German word for them) inflict their dictates upon us regardless of what the elected European or any other democratic Parliament says or wishes. Do we want a worldwide EU? No.

You say I am one of “those who argue that climate change does not represent a global market failure”. Yet it is only recently that opinion sufficient to constitute a market signal became apparent in the documents of the IPCC, which is, however, a political rather than a scientific entity. There has scarcely been time for a “market failure”. Besides, corporations are falling over themselves to cash in on the giant financial fraud against the little guy that carbon taxation and trading have already become in the goody-two-shoes EU – and will become in Australia if you get your way.

You say I was one of “those who argue that somehow the market will magically solve the problem”. In fact I have never argued that, though in general the market is better at solving problems than the habitual but repeatedly-failed dirigisme of the etatistes predominant in the classe politique today.


The questions I address are a) whether there is a climate problem at all; and b) even if there is one, and even if per impossibile it is of the hilariously-overblown magnitude imagined by the IPCC, whether waiting and adapting as and if necessary is more cost-effective than attempting to mitigate the supposed problem by trying to reduce the carbon dioxide our industries and enterprises emit.

Let us pretend, solum ad argumentum, that a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration causes the maximum warming imagined by the IPCC. The IPCC’s bureaucrats are careful not to derive a function that will convert changes in CO2 concentration directly to equilibrium changes in temperature. I shall do it for them.

We derive the necessary implicit function from the IPCC’s statement to the effect that equilibrium surface warming ΔT at CO2 doubling will be (3.26 ± ln 2) C°. Since the IPCC, in compliance with Beer’s Law, defines the radiative forcing effect of CO2 as logarithmic rather than linear, our implicit function can be derived at once. The coefficient is the predicted warming at CO2 doubling divided by the logarithm of 2, and the term (C/C0) is the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration. Thus,

ΔT = (4.7 ± 1) ln(C/C0) | Celsius degrees

We are looking at the IPCC’s maximum imagined warming rate, so we simply write –

ΔT = 5.7 ln(C/C0) | Celsius degrees

Armed with this function telling us the maximum equilibrium warming that the IPCC predicts from any given change in CO2 concentration, we can now determine, robustly, the maximum equilibrium warming that is likely to be forestalled by any proposed cut in the current upward path of CO2 emissions. Let me demonstrate.

By the end of this month, according to the Copenhagen Accord, all parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are due to report what cuts in emissions they will make by 2020. Broadly speaking, the Annex 1 parties, who will account for about half of global emissions over the period, will commit to reducing current emissions by 30% by 2020, or 15% on average in the decade between now and 2020.

Thus, if and only if every Annex 1 party to the Copenhagen Accord complies with its obligations to the full, today’s emissions will be reduced by around half of that 15%, namely 7.5%, compared with business as usual. If the trend of the past decade continues, with business as usual we shall add 2 ppmv/year, or 20 ppmv over the decade, to atmospheric CO2 concentration. Now, 7.5% of 20 ppmv is 1.5 ppmv.

We determine the warming forestalled over the coming decade by comparing the business-as-usual warming that would occur between now and 2020 if we made no cuts in CO2 emissions with the lesser warming that would follow full compliance with the Copenhagen Accord. Where today’s CO2 concentration is 388 ppmv –

Business as usual: ΔT = 5.7 ln(408.0/388) = 0.29 C°

– Copenhagen Accord: ΔT = 5.7 ln(406.5/388) = 0.27 C°

= “Global warming” forestalled, 2010-2020: 0.02 C°


One-fiftieth of a Celsius degree of warming forestalled is all that complete, global compliance with the Copenhagen Accord for an entire decade would achieve. Yet the cost of achieving this result – an outcome so small that our instruments would not be able to measure it – would run into trillions of dollars. Do your Treasury models demonstrate that this calculation is in any way erroneous? If they do, junk them.

You say “formal global and national economic modelling” shows “that the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of acting”. You ask for my “equivalent evidence basis to Treasury modelling published by the Government of the industry and employment impacts of climate change”. I respond that the rigorous calculation that I have described, which your officials may verify for themselves, shows that whatever costs may be imagined to flow from anthropogenic “global warming” will scarcely be mitigated at all, even by trillions of dollars of expenditure over the coming decade.

Every economic analysis except that of the now-discredited Lord Stern, with its near-zero discount rate and its absurdly inflated warming rates, comes to the same ineluctable conclusion: adaptation to climate change, in whatever direction, as and if necessary, is orders of magnitude more cost-effective than attempts at mitigation. In a long career in policy analysis in and out of government, I have never seen so cost-ineffective a proposed waste of taxpayers’ money as the trillions which today’s scientifically-illiterate governments propose to spend on attempting – with all the plausibility of King Canute – to stop the tide from coming in.

Remember that I have done this calculation on the basis that everyone who should comply with the Copenhagen Accord actually does comply. Precedent does not look promising. The Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord’s predecessor, has been in operation for more than a decade, and it was supposed to reduce global CO2 emissions by 2012. So far, after billions spent on global implementation of Kyoto, global CO2 emissions have risen compared with when Kyoto was first signed.

Remember too that we have assumed the maximum warming that the CO2 imagines might occur in response to a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration. Yet even the IPCC’s central estimate of CO2’s warming effect, according to an increasing number of serious papers in the peer-reviewed literature, is a five-fold exaggeration. If those papers are right, after a further decade of incomplete compliance and billions squandered, warming forestalled may prove to be just a thousandth of a degree.

Now ask yourself this. Are you, personally, and your advisers, personally, and your administration’s officials, personally, willing to make the heroically pointless sacrifices that you so insouciantly demand of others in the name of Saving The Planet For Future Generations? I beg leave to think not. At Flag 1 I have attached what I have reason to believe is a generally accurate list of the names and titles of the delegation that you led to Copenhagen to bring back the non-result whose paltriness, pointlessness and futility we have now rigorously demonstrated. There are 114 names on the list. One hundred and fourteen. Enough to fill a mid-sized passenger jet. Half a dozen were all that was really necessary – and perhaps one from each State in Australia. If you and your officials are not willing to tighten your belts when a tempting foreign junket at taxpayers’ expense is in prospect, why, pray, should the taxpayers tighten theirs?

You say that climate-change “deniers” – nasty word, that, and you should really have known better than to use it – are “small in number but too dangerous to be ignored”, and “well resourced”. In fact, governments, taxpayer-funded organizations, taxpayer-funded teachers, and taxpayer-funded environmental groups have spent something like 50,000 times as much on “global warming” propaganda as their opponents have spent on debunking this new and cruel superstition. And that is before we take account of the relentless prejudice of the majority of the mainstream news media.

How, then, it is that we, the supposed minority who will not admit that the emperor of “global warming” is adequately clad, are somehow prevailing? How is it that we are convincing more and more of the population not to place any more trust in the “global warming” theory? The answer is that the “global warming” theory is not true, and no amount of bluster or braggadocio, ranting or rodomontade will make it true.

You say that our aim, in daring to oppose the transient fashion for apocalypticism, is “to erode just enough of the political will that action becomes impossible”. No. Our aim is simply to ensure that the truth is widely enough understood to prevent the squandering of precious resources on addressing the non-problem of anthropogenic “global warming”. The correct policy response to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. No interventionist likes to do nothing. Nevertheless, the do-nothing option, scientifically and economically speaking, is the right option.

You say that I and others like me base our thinking on the notion that “the cost of not acting is nothing”. Well, after a decade and a half with no statistically-significant “global warming”, and after three decades in which the mean warming rate has been well below the ever-falling predictions of the UN’s climate panel, that notion has certainly not been disproven in reality.

However, the question I address is not that but this. Is the cost of taking action many times greater than the cost of not acting? The answer to this question is Yes.

Millions are already dying of starvation in the world’s poorest nations because world food prices have doubled in two years. That abrupt, vicious doubling was caused by a sharp drop in world food production, caused in turn by suddenly taking millions of acres of land out of growing food for people who need it, so as to grow biofuels for clunkers that don’t. The scientifically-illiterate, economically-innumerate policies that you advocate – however fashionable you may conceive them to be – are killing people by the million.

You say my logic “belongs in a casino, not a science lab”. Yet it is you who are gambling with poor people’s lives, and it is you – or, rather, they – who are losing: and losing not merely their substance but their very existence. The biofuel scam is born of the idiotic notion – a notion you uncritically espouse – that increasing by less than 1/2000 this century the proportion of the Earth’s atmosphere occupied by CO2 may prove catastrophic. At a time when so many of the world’s people are already short of food, the UN’s right-to-food rapporteur, Herr Ziegler, has roundly and rightly condemned the biofuel scam as nothing less than “a crime against humanity”.

The scale of the slaughter is monstrous, with food riots (largely unreported in the Western news media, and certainly not mentioned by you in your recent speech) in a dozen regions of the Third World over the past two years. Yet this cruel, unheeded slaughter is founded upon a lie: the claim by the IPCC that it is 90% certain that most of the “global warming” since 1950 is manmade. This claim – based not on science but on a show of hands among political representatives, with China wanting a lower figure and other nations wanting a higher figure – is demonstrably, self-servingly false. Peer-reviewed analyses of changes in cloud cover over recent decades – changes almost entirely unconnected with changes in CO2 concentration – show that it was this largely-natural reduction in cloud cover from 1983-2001 and a consequent increase in the amount of short-wave and UV solar radiation reaching the Earth that accounted for five times as much warming as CO2 could have caused.

Nor is the IPCC’s great lie the only lie. If you will allow me to brief you and your advisers, I will show you lie after lie after lie after lie in the official documents of the IPCC and in the speeches of its current chairman, who has made himself a multi-millionaire as a “global warming” profiteer.

However, if you will not make the time to hear me for half an hour before you commit your working people to the futile indignity of excessive taxation and pointless over-regulation without the slightest scientific or economic justification, and to outright confiscation of their farmland without compensation on the fatuous pretext that the land is a “carbon sink”, then I hope that you will at least nominate one of the scientists on your staff to address the two central issues that I have raised in this letter: namely, the egregious cost-ineffectiveness of attempting to mitigate “global warming” by emissions reduction, and the measured fact, well demonstrated in the scientific literature, that a largely-natural change in cloud cover in recent decades caused five times as much “global warming” as CO2. It is also a measured fact that, while those of the UN’s computer models that can be forced with an increase in sea-surface temperatures all predict a consequent fall in the flux of outgoing radiation at top of atmosphere, in observed reality there is an increase. In short, the radiation that is supposed to be trapped here in the troposphere to cause “global warming” is measured as escaping to space much as usual, so that it cannot be causing more than around one-fifth of the warming the IPCC predicts.

My list of the Copenhagen junketers from Australia’s governing class is attached. All those taxpayer dollars squandered, just to forestall 0.02 C° of “global warming” in ten years. Yet, in the past decade and a half, there has been no “global warming” at all. Can you not see that it would be kinder to your working people to wait another decade and see whether global temperatures even begin to respond as the IPCC has predicted? What is the worst that can happen if you wait? Just 0.02 C° of global warming that would not otherwise have occurred. It’s a no-brainer.

Yours faithfully,

VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY


THE RUDD GOVERNMENT’S COPENHAGEN JUNKET LIST

December 2009


The following 114 officials or representatives of the Australian Government and of State administrations attended the UN climate conference at Copenhagen in December 2009 –

1. Kevin Michael Rudd, Prime Minister
2. Penelope Wong, Minister, Clim. Chg. & Water
3. Louise Helen Hand, Ambassador for Clim. Chg.
4. David Fredericks, Dep. Chf. of Staff, Dept. of the Prime Minister
5. Philip Green Oam, Sen. Policy Advr., Foreign Affairs Dept.
6. Andrew Charlton, Sen. Advr., Prime Minister’s Dept.
7. Lachlan Harris, Sen. Press Sec., Prime Minister’s Office
8. Scott Dewar, Sen. Advr., Prime Minister’s Office
9. Clare Penrose, Advr., Prime Minister’s Office
10. Fiona Sugden, Media Advr., Prime Minister’s Office
11. Lisa French, Prime Minister’s Office12. Jeremy Hilman, Advr., Prime Minister’s Office
13. Tarah Barzanji, Advr., Prime Minister’s Office
14. Kate Shaw, Exec. Sec., Prime Minister’s Office
15. Gaile Barnes, Exec. Asst., Prime Minister’s Office
16. Gordon de Brouwer, Dep. Sec. Prime Minister’s Dept.
17. Patrick Suckling, 1st Asst. Sec., Intl. Div., Prime Minister’s Office\
18. Rebecca Christie, Prime Minister’s Office
19. Michael Jones, Official Photographer, Prime Minister & Cabinet
20. Stephan Rudzki
21. David Bell, Federal Agent, Aus. Federal Police
22. Kym Baillie, Aus. Federal Police
23. David Champion, Aus. Federal Police
24. Matt Jebb, Federal Agent Aus. Federal Police
25. Craig Kendall, Federal Agent, Aus. Federal Police
26. Squadron Leader Ian Lane, Staff Offr., VIP Operations
27. John Olenich, Media Advr., to Minister Wong, Office of Clim. Chg. & Water
28. Kristina Hickey, Advr. to Minister Wong, Office of Clim. Chg. & Water
29. Martin Parkinson, Sec., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
30. Howard Bamsey, Special Envoy for Clim. Chg., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
31. Robert Owen-Jones, Asst. Sec., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
32. Clare Walsh Asst. Sec., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
33. Jenny Elizabeth Wilkinson, Policy Advr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
34. Elizabeth Peak, Princ. Legal Advr., Intl. Clim. Law, Dept. of Clim. Chg.
35. Kristin Tilley, Dir., Multilat. Negots., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
36. Andrew Ure, Actg. Dir., Multilat. Negots., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
37. Annemarie Watt, Dir., Land Sector Negots., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
38. Kushla Munro, Dir., Intl. Forest Carbon Sectn. Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
39. Kathleen Annette Rowley, Dir., Strategic & Tech. Analysis, Dept. of Clim. Chg.
40. Anitra Cowan Asst. Dir., Multilat. Negots., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
41. Sally Truong, Asst. Dir., Multilat. Negots., Intl. Div. Dept. of Clim. Chg.
42. Jane Wilkinson, Asst. Dir., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
43. Tracey Mackay, Asst. Dir., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
44. Laura Brown, Asst. Dir., Multilat. Negots., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
45. Tracey-Anne Leahey, Delegation Mgr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
46. Nicola Loffler, Sen. Legal Advr., Intl. Clim. Law, Dept. of Clim. Chg.
47. Tamara Curll, Legal Advr., Intl. Clim. Law, Dept. of Clim. Chg.
48. Jessica Allen, Legal Support Offr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
49. Sanjiva de Silva, Legal Advr., Intl. Clim. Law, Dept. of Clim. Chg.
50. Gaia Puleston, Political Advr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
51. Penelope Morton, Policy Advr., UNFCCC Negots., Intl. Div., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
52. Claire Elizabeth Watt, Policy Advr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
53. Amanda Walker, Policy Offr., Multilat. Negots., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
54. Alan David Lee, Policy Advr., Land Sector Negots., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
55. Erika Kate Oord, Aus. Stakeholder Mgr., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
56. Jahda Kirian Swanborough, Comms. Mgr., Ministerial Comms., Dept. of Clim. Chg.
57. H.E. Sharyn Minahan, Ambassador, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
58. Julia Feeney, Dir., Clim. Chg. & Envir., Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
59. Chester Geoffrey Cunningham, 2nd Sec., DFAT, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to Germany
60. Rachael Cooper, Exec. Offr., Clim. Chg. & Envir., Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
61. Rachael Grivas, Exec. Offr., Envir. Branch, Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
62. Moya Collett, Desk Offr., Clim. Chg. & Envir. Sectn., Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
63. Rob Law, Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
64. Robin Davies, Asst. Dir. Gen., Sustainable Devel. Gp., Aus. Agency for Intl. Devel.
65. Deborah Fulton, Dir., Policy & Global Envir., Aus. Agency for Intl. Devel.
66. Katherine Vaughn, Policy Advr., Policy & Global Envir., Aus. Agency for Intl. Devel.
67. Brian Dawson, Policy Advr., Aus. Agency for Intl. Devel.
68. Andrew Leigh Clarke, Dep. Sec., Dept. of Res. Devel., Western Aus.
69. Bruce Wilson, Gen. Mgr., Envir. Energy & Envir. Div., Dept. of Resrc. Devel., W. Aus.
70. Jill McCarthy, Policy Advr., Dept. of Resrc., Energy & Tourism
71. Simon French, Policy Advr., Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
72. Ian Michael Ruscoe, Policy Advr., Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
73. David Walland, Acting Supt., Nat. Clim. Centre, Bureau of Meteorology
74. Damien Dunn Sen. Policy Advr., Aus. Treasury
75. Helen Hawka Fuhrman, Policy Offr., Renewable Energy Policy & Partnerships
76. Scott Vivian Davenport, Chf., Economics, NSW Dept. of Industry & Invest.
77. Graham Julian Levitt, Policy Mgr., Clim. Chg., NSW Dept. of Industry & Invest.
78. Kate Jennifer Jones, Minister, Clim. Chg. & Sustainability, Qld. Govt.
79. Michael William Dart, Princ. Policy Advr., Office of Kate Jones, MP, Qld. Govt.
80. Matthew Anthony Jamie Skoien, Sen. Dir., Office of Clim. Chg. Qld. Govt.
81. Michael David Rann, Premier, S. Aus. Dept. of Premier & Cabinet, S. Aus.
82. Suzanne Kay Harter, Advr., Dept. of Premier & Cabinet, S. Aus.
83. Paul David Flanagan, Mgr., Comms., Govt. of S. Aus.
84. Timothy O’Loughlin, Dep. Chf. Exec., Sust. & Wkfc. Mgmt., S. Aus. Dept. of Premier
85. Nyla Sarwar M.Sc, student, Linacre College, University of Oxford
86. Gavin Jennings, Minister, Envir. & Clim. Chg. & Innovation, Victorian Govt.
87. Sarah Broadbent, Sustainability Advr.
88. Rebecca Falkingham, Sen. Advr., Victoria Govt./Office of Clim. Chg.
89. Simon Camroux, Policy Advr., Energy Supply Ass. of Aus. Ltd.
90. Geoff Lake, Advr., Aus. Local Govt. Ass.

91. Sridhar Ayyalaraju, Post Visit Controller, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
92. Tegan Brink Dep. Visit Controller & Security Liaison Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
93. Melissa Eu Suan Goh, Trspt. Liaison Offr. & Consul, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
94. Lauren Henschke, Support Staff, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
95. Maree Fay, Accommodation Liaison Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
96. Patricia McKinnon, Comms. Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
97. Eugene Olim, Passport/Baggage Liaison Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
98. Belinda Lee Adams
99. Jacqui Ashworth, Media Liaison Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
100. Patricia Smith, Media Liaison Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
101. Martin Bo Jensen, Research & Public Dipl. Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
102. Mauro Kolobaric, Consular Support, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
103. Susan Flanagan, Consular Support, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
104. Stephen Kanaridis, IT Support Offr., Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
105. George Reid, Support Staff, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
106. Ashley Wright, Support Staff, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
107. Jodie Littlewood, Support Staff, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
108. Thomas Millhouse, Support Staff, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
109. Timothy Whittley, Support Staff Driver, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
110. Julia Thomson, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
111. Donald Frater, Chf. of Staff to Minister Wong Office of Clim. Chg. & Water
112. Jacqui Smith, Media Liaison, Dipl. Miss. of Aus. to DK
113. Greg French, Sen. Legal Advr. (Envir.), Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade
114. Jeremy Hillman, Advisor, to the Prime Minister.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"When peaceful revolution is impossible, violent revolution is inevitable!"
                                   
                     - John and Robert Kennedy

Rubbing Salt in Guantanamo's Wounds: Task Force Announces Indefinite Detentions



Friday 22 January 2010
With a stunning lack of sensitivity, President Barack Obama's Guantánamo Review Task Force chose the anniversary of the president's failed promise to close the prison to announce its conclusions regarding the eventual fate of 196 prisoners.
As the Washington Post explained, the Task Force said, with no trace of irony, that "nearly 50" of the men still imprisoned at Guantanamo "should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war." 
The administration's invocation of the laws of war actually refers to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which authorized the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001" (or those who harbored them), as interpreted by the Supreme Court in June 2004, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which it was asserted that "Congress has clearly and unmistakably authorized detention" of individuals covered by the AUMF.
This may technically be legal in the United States, but it is at odds with everyone else's understanding of the laws of war. As every other civilized country understands them, the laws of war involve holding combatants for the duration of hostilities according to the Geneva Conventions, which, under Common Article 3, prohibits the "humiliating and degrading treatment" and coercive interrogations to which the men in Guantánamo were subjected, after President Bush declared in February 2002 that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
Moreover, these men were never screened to ascertain whether they were actually combatants in the first place. Under Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention (relative to the treatment of prisoners of war), if there is any doubt about whether those detained fit the description of Article 4 (broadly speaking, regular armed forces), they should be treated as Article 4 prisoners until their status has been determined by a competent tribunal. Held close to the time and place of capture, these were convened in every U.S. war from Vietnam onwards, and in the first Gulf War, for example, 1,196 tribunals were held, and 886 men were subsequently released.
However, competent tribunals were not held in Afghanistan (and are still not held to this day, under President Obama), and irregular soldiers (such as those fighting for the Taliban, or military forces related to al-Qaeda who were supporting the Taliban) slipped through the cracks of the protections assured to everyone detained in wartime, whether combatant or civilian, and were labeled as "unlawful enemy combatants," who, according to the Bush administration, could be deprived of all rights.
This was nonsense, as the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed in 1958 in a commentary on the Fourth Convention (relative to the treatment of civilians) that "Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, or … a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention." Moreover, "There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law."
This interpretation was reinforced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in a judgment in 1998, but in the "war on terror," the result of the Bush administration's cynical maneuvering was Guantánamo, a prison in which men who had never been adequately screened were presumed to be guilty, even though, in most cases, the authorities knew nothing about them, largely because 86 percent of them had not been seized "on the battlefield," as senior officials claimed, but had been sold to the U.S. military by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, at a time when bounty payments, averaging $5,000 a head, were being paid for al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects.
As a result, the Obama administration's justification for holding 50 men indefinitely without charge or trial reinforces the Bush administration's false claim that there is a category of wartime prisoner who can be held indefinitely (as opposed to being held as a prisoner of war until the end of hostilities). What makes this conclusion even more unnerving is that the justification for holding these men indefinitely is evidence that, by President Obama's own admission, is "tainted" by the use of torture.
In a major national security speech in May, when he first signaled that he was reviving the Bush administration's justification for holding men indefinitely without charge or trial, he referred to prisoners who "cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States."
To its credit, the administration has belatedly acknowledged that the decision regarding whether or not to hold these men is not the exclusive province of the executive branch. As the Post explained, officials stated that "each detainee has the right to challenge his incarceration in habeas corpus proceedings in federal court." This is a welcome acknowledgment, as the courts' role, mandated by an enormously significant Supreme Court ruling in June 2008, has been noticeably sidelined by the administration, even though, in the last 16 months, District Court judges have ruled, in 32 out of 41 cases, that the government's supposed evidence – largely derived from the prisoners themselves, or from their fellow prisoners – is so "tainted" as to be useless and unbelievable.
Judges have also taken exception to the President's hidden sub-text – that other compelling evidence has come from the intelligence agencies – noting, on several occasions, that the "mosaics" of intelligence put forward to justify detention may be useful in terms of gathering intelligence, but fail to stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.
No indication has yet been provided as to the identities of the 50 men that the Task Force advocates holding indefinitely, but it is a safe bet that one is Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti (profiled on Truthout last October), who has always maintained that he was a humanitarian aid worker, caught up in the post-invasion chaos of Afghanistan.
Noticeably, al-Kandari has been persistently uncooperative with the interrogators in Guantánamo, and has refused to implicate himself in any terrorist-related activities.
But according to the authorities, in a version of reality concocted almost exclusively from multiple levels of hearsay provided by other prisoners, while in Afghanistan, between August and December 2001 he managed not only to visit the al-Farouq training camp (the main training camp for Arabs in the years before 9/11), but also provided instruction to al-Qaeda members and trainees, to serve as an adviser to Osama bin Laden, and to produce recruitment audio and videotapes which encouraged membership in al-Qaeda and participation in jihad.
Al-Kandari is one of the men whose only hope now is that a District Court judge will see through the authorities' flimsy case against him, but for those seeking justice for genuine terrorists (or those, at least, against whom something resembling real evidence exists), the news from the Task Force is at least more encouraging. As the Post explained, the Task Force has recommended that "about 35 prisoners should be prosecuted in federal or military courts."
Without the distraction of the 50 supposedly dangerous men who can be held indefinitely without evidence, this figure rather comprehensively demonstrates the colossal failure rate of the Bush administration's experiment at Guantánamo: of the 779 men held, just under 5 percent are to face trials. If anything demonstrates that doing away with establishing safeguards in wartime and establishing guilt through arrogant presumption is a disastrous idea, it should be this statistic.
Making up the rest of the 95 percent of Guantánamo's prisoners who should never have been detained are "at least 110 detainees" who have been cleared for release. As the Post explained, the Task Force "deemed approximately 80 detainees, including about 30 Yemenis, eligible for immediate repatriation or resettlement in a third country. About 30 other Yemenis were placed in a category of their own, with their release contingent upon dramatically stabilized conditions in their home country."
This is another swipe at the chaos of the Bush administration's policies, of course, as the figure of 110 can be added to the 44 prisoners already released by Obama, but it is not without its problems. The Post tiptoed around Obama's cowardly refusal to release any cleared Yemenis for the foreseeable future, in the face of unprincipled attacks from Republicans and member of his own party, who attempted to equate the cleared Yemenis with the failed Christmas Day plane bomber.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had apparently been in contact with an al-Qaeda-inspired group in Yemen that included Saudi ex-prisoners released by George W. Bush, despite warnings from the intelligence services that they were among the handful of dangerous men in Guantánamo, but in the hysteria that recently prevailed, the cleared Yemenis were sacrificed for political gain.
The unadorned figures also fail to reveal that, of the 50 men from other countries, the majority cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will be tortured on their return.
On the anniversary of President Obama's failure to close Guantánamo – and also to fully repudiate the Bush administration's vile policies – the plight of these men should not be overlooked. Although the Post noted that the administration "anticipates that about 20 detainees can be repatriated by this summer," and "has received firm commitments from countries willing to settle an additional 25 detainees who have been cleared for release," experiences this year have indicated that other countries are reluctant to provide new homes for these men when the United States has washed its hands of them.
The blame for refusing to allow any cleared prisoner to settle in the United States, if they cannot be repatriated, lies with the president, with lawmakers, with the Justice Department and judges in the Court of Appeals and numerous media outlets. 
But its impact not only continues to sour relations with other countries asked to do America's dirty work, it also threatens to leave innocent men stranded in Guantánamo for an undefined amount of time. Back in October 2008, when Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled that 17 men from China (the Uighurs), who had won their habeas petitions, had to be rehoused in the United States because they could not be repatriated, and because no other country and been found that would take them, he explained that their continued detention was unconstitutional.
Fifteen months later, Judge Urbina's words still ring true, as they may on this day next year, when some of these men may still be held in Guantánamo unless America accepts responsibility for its own mistakes.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Australian 'Greens' Senator Irrelevant



Sarah Hanson-Young a waste of tax-payers money

It never ceases to amaze me that Australian 'Greens' Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is so vocal about Whales and 'Global Warming' now re-marketed as 'Climate Change' notwithstanding the unsubstantiated "Fudged Data" regarding the allegations that CO2 is a Human affectation. Yet, The Senator has been completely silent on the War Crimes allegedly committed by Israel against the people of Gaza. The senator has no specific opinions on 'The War on Terror' that has cost the lives of too many Australian servicemen - no Australian Servicewomen have been sacrificed yet, thankfully; Aussie tax-payers have been paying dearly for no determined result in safety and security. Our government's blind unquestioned support for this undeclared war, which I might add makes our participation unconstitutional; has also reduced our freedom due to legislation that has not been open to universal suffrage by referendum. The Greens are totally irrelevant on genuine issues and are astonishingly overzealous where cuddly non-issues are concerned. So, what am I saying, Whales are a non-issue? When held up against the plight of children in Gaza YES! Whales are not more important than children. Also, until ALL the 'genuine' Data is made publicly available for scrutiny; Climate Change due to Human influence is AN UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATION.
CHILDREN FIRST! SENATOR HANSON-YOUNG! If you think that being a 'Green' abrogates your duty of care to The Global 'Human' Village; you will need to start scouring the Job section. The growth in awareness of the issues that affect the lives of all Australians as Global citizens is exponential - there is very little patience being shown lately to one issue demagogues. Oh, and paying lip-service to the "Free Tibet" crowd does not buy you any points. The Dalai Lama has been long exposed as a Zionist Muppet of the 'Controlled' opposition type. If you expect Aussies to buy into your Global environmental governance and Trading taxes - you'd be well advised to take a Global approach on more than your pet 'green' issues.