The Lessons of Violence

Posted on Jan 21, 2008
Hamas mourners
AP photo / Khalil Hamra
Palestinians mourn over the body of Hussam Zahar, 24, son of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, during his funeral in Gaza City. Hussam Zahar was killed Jan. 15 in an Israeli strike on Gaza.

By Chris Hedges

The Gaza Strip is rapidly becoming one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. Israel has cordoned off the entire area, home to some 1.4 million Palestinians, blocking commercial goods, food, fuel and even humanitarian aid. At least 36 people have been killed in Israeli strikes since Tuesday and many more wounded. Hamas, which took control of Gaza in June, has launched about 200 rockets into southern Israel in the same period in retaliation, injuring more than 10 people. Israel announced the draconian closure and collective punishment Thursday in order to halt the rocket attacks, begun on Tuesday, when 18 Palestinians, including the son of a Hamas leader, were killed by Israeli forces.

This is not another typical spat between Israelis and Palestinians. This is the final, collective strangulation of the Palestinians in Gaza. The decision to block shipments of food by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency means that two-thirds of the Palestinians who rely on relief aid will no longer be able to eat when U.N. stockpiles in Gaza run out. Reports from inside Gaza speak of gasoline stations out of fuel, hospitals that lack basic medicine and a shortage of clean water. Whole neighborhoods were plunged into darkness when Israel cut off its supply of fuel to Gaza’s only power plant. The level of malnutrition in Gaza is now equal to that in the poorest sub-Saharan nations.

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Ex-CIA Official May Refuse To Testify About Videotapes

Not just any former CIA official but the head of clandestine operations such as rendition, waterboarding, torture, kidnapping and murder, all in the name of “the war on terror”.

A former CIA official at the center of the controversy over destroyed interrogation videotapes has been blocked by Justice Department officials from gaining access to government records about the incident, according to sources familiar with the case.

Federal Judge Won’t Review Destruction Of CIA Videotapes
Thursday, Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m. ET: National Security and Intelligence
The former official, Jose Rodriguez Jr., has also told the House intelligence committee through a letter from his attorney that he will refuse to testify next week about the tapes unless he is granted immunity from prosecution for his statements, the sources said.

The panel has issued a subpoena for Rodriguez, the former chief of clandestine operations who issued the order to destroy the videotapes in 2005. He and other former CIA officials are also being blocked from gaining access to documents about the incident, sources said.

How Did Specialist Ciara Durkin Die?

(CBS/AP) Exactly how Ciara Durkin died remains a mystery. The Army National Guard soldier from Massachusetts was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in Afghanistan last week, and now her family is demanding answers from the military.

Initially the Pentagon reported that Durkin, part of a finance unit deployed to Afghanistan in November 2006, had been killed in action, but then revised its statement to read she had died of injuries “suffered from a non-combat related incident” at Bagram Airfield. The statement had no specifics and said the circumstances are under investigation.

Durkin had a desk job doing payroll in an office about three miles inside the secure Bagram Air Base. About 90 minutes after she left work last Friday, her family says she was found dead near a chapel on the base with a single gunshot wound to the head.

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Diplomatic immunity: the latest attempt to keep Backwater’s employees from prosecution

Charges for Blackwater ex-guard? Lawyer doubts it.

The Seattle attorney representing a former Blackwater contractor under investigation in the high-profile shooting death of an Iraqi said his client is being pilloried by Congress and the media, and he questions whether criminal charges can ever be filed.

“There are jurisdictional issues. And there are factual issues, including the issue of self-defense,” said Stewart Riley, who represents Andrew Moonen of Seattle. “You have to remember that the Green Zone is still a war zone.”

Riley said he has represented Moonen, a former Army paratrooper, since January, just a few weeks after Moonen allegedly shot and killed the bodyguard to the Iraqi vice president during a Dec. 24 confrontation in the Baghdad “Green Zone,” the heavily guarded compound that contains the U.S. embassy and Iraqi government offices.

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