By any reasonable standard, Islam Karimov is one of the world’s most infamous torturers. His particular brand of infamy is so horrid that even the Bush Administration had to cut off military aid to the Uzbeki dictator in 2005. For example, one of his favorite methods of punishing his victims is to slowly immerse them in boiling oil. That horrid.
But it seems a good “friendship” is a difficult thing for the Clinton’s–both Bill and Hillary–to let go of. As Fred Kaplan pointed out way back in 2005, before US aid was cut off:
President Bill Clinton struck up a relationship with Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov to stave off the common threat from Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. After Sept. 11, President Bush tightened the alliance. Karimov supplied the CIA and the Pentagon with an air base, which served as the staging area for the invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. During that war, he also allowed the United States to set up listening posts and to launch Predator drones from Uzbek territory.
Later, in 2009, Clinton attended an AIDS fundraiser in Cannes and had his picture taken with the elegant Gulnara Of The Oil Vats:
Ken Silverstein made a point of inquiring with the Clinton Foundation whether or not Karimova made contributions to the foundation. He didn’t receive any reply, which normally translates into English as, “We can’t actually deny it, so we’re not going to say anything at all.”
In any case, it’s a fair question to ask since (1), Clinton is always raising money, and (2), he doesn’t exactly have a reputation as being terribly picky about his funding sources. In this case however, it matters, since Gulnara Karimova–Harvard grad–has a rather terrible reputation as was laid out in Wikileaks releases as noted in this Guardian story from last December:
The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of “rampant corruption”, organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.
But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN).
Many dispatches focus on the behaviour of Karimov’s glamorous and highly controversial daughter Gulnara, who is bluntly described by them as “the single most hated person in the country”.
She allegedly bullied her way into gaining a slice of virtually every lucrative business in the central Asian state and is viewed, they say, as a “robber baron”. Granted diplomatic status by her father, Gulnara allegedly lives much of the time in Geneva, where her holding company, Zeromax, was registered at the time, or in Spain.
Gulnara acquired interests in the crude oil contracts of Zeromax in “a deal with [a] local mafia boss“, the embassy said. She also got hold of shares in the Coca-Cola bottling franchise after it was subjected to a tax investigation, they claimed.
“Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way … She remains the single most hated person in the country.”
The relationship between the US and the Karimovs hasn’t been without its complications though, since Hillary bestowed an award to one of Uzbekistan’s human rights activist:
But the US secret cables go some way towards explaining western ambivalence. They detail how the dictatorial president recently flew into a rage because the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, presented a Women of Courage award in Washington to a newly released Uzbek human rights campaigner, Mutabar Tadjibayeva.
Karimov’s displeasure was conveyed in “icy tones”, which alarmed the embassy: “We have a number of important issues on the table right now, including the Afghanistan transit (NDN) framework.”
There have been a bunch of news stories in the past week about Roger Clemens being prosecuted for lying under oath to Congress about taking performance enhancing drugs, like this story:
The case of USA vs. WILLIAM R. CLEMENS, as it is formally styled, may last a month and a half and overlap, on Aug. 4, the hero’s 39th birthday. The lead prosecutor, a hook-nosed veteran named Steven Durham who much resembles Ken (Hawk) Harrelson, the old Red Sox first baseman, unfolded a list of potential witnesses that includes numerous ex-trainers of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Jays’ team physician (and former major-league pitcher) Ron Taylor, and such chemically enhanced former big-leaguers as Jose Canseco, Sammy (“no speak English”) Sosa, Mark (“We’re not here to talk about the past”) McGwire and even the big-headed Barry Bonds himself, fresh off his own partial exoneration (and conviction on one count of obstruction of justice) on charges that he was well aware of the muscle-building, testicle-shrinking propensities of what his pusher called “the Cream” and “the Clear.”
On Clemens’ behalf, his lawyer suggested, might be summoned ex-players David Cone, Wade Boggs, Phil Garner and Woody Williams, not to mention Debra herself and a brace of masseur/masseuses.
Wednesday’s first order of business was the defence’s rather late and whiny insistence on obtaining an audio recording to supplement the official transcript of Clemens’s Congressional declamation. “Tone of voice” could be crucial to understanding the pitcher’s delivery, his lawyers argued. But District Judge Reggie Walton bade the proceedings continue anyway, arguing that: “This country’s going broke, and we can’t afford to waste money.”
Neither Judge Walton nor the defence ventured to suggest that Defendant Clemens, whose peak salary exceeded $20 million U.S. per season, might help to foot the bill for any delay.
The usual justification for this prosecutorial excess goes like this story:
And, of course, yes, games are not consequential in an intrinsic sense. However, the fact is that in this world today, there are many trivial things taken very seriously by a lot of people — sports primarily included. And thus, because sports in the aggregate is a substantial institution, the government is obliged to pay attention.
Perhaps one of the reasons the government is forced to pay attention is because of the way sports affect children. The goal of sports is victory, but the essence is fairness. What’s the first question a kid asks entering a game? What are the rules?
If we don’t accept playing by the rules in sport, where else do we lay down that marker? That’s what’s serious about sports. And why, although we are weary of all the doping distractions, it is worth the while of governments to go after athletes — especially the celebrities — who might have cheated their games and cheated what a very visual institution in our society teaches us. Yes, it’s time and money, but, yes, it’s only fair.
However, reading a Wired piece by Spencer Ackerman, ‘Some Will Call Me a Torturer’: CIA Man Reveals Secret Jail, I wonder if Mr. Clemens should simply admit to torture and run for political office? US politicians who torture, and the people who do their dirty work, are immune from prosecution, despite their crimes being far more heinous than sticking yourself with a needle and risking your health, all for some deluded idea that you can put off aging and growing old. Torture is not vain.
Indeed, torture is stupid and misguided. It destroys lives:
Distilled, that story, told in Carle’s new memoir The Interrogator, is this: In the months after 9/11, the CIA kidnaps a suspected senior member of al-Qaida and takes him to a Mideast country for interrogation. It assigns Carle — like nearly all his colleagues then, an inexperienced interrogator — to pry information out of him. Uneasy with the CIA’s new, relaxed rules for questioning, which allow him to torture, Carle instead tries to build a rapport with the man he calls CAPTUS.
But CAPTUS doesn’t divulge the al-Qaida plans the CIA suspects him of knowing. So the agency sends him to “Hotel California” — an unacknowledged prison, beyond the reach of the Red Cross or international law.
Carle goes with him. Though heavily censored by the CIA, Carle provides the first detailed description of a so-called “black site.” At an isolated “discretely guarded, unremarkable” facility in an undisclosed foreign country (though one where the Soviets once operated), hidden CIA interrogators work endless hours while heavy metal blasts captives’ eardrums and disrupts their sleep schedules.
Afterward, the operatives drive to a fortified compound to munch Oreos and drink somberly to Grand Funk Railroad at the “Jihadi Bar.” Any visitor to Guantanamo Bay’s Irish pub — O’Kellys, home of the fried pickle — will recognize the surreality.
But Carle — codename: REDEMPTOR — comes to believe CAPTUS is innocent.
“We had destroyed the man’s life based on an error,” he writes. But the black site is a bureaucratic hell: CAPTUS’ reluctance to tell CIA what it wants to hear makes the far-off agency headquarters more determined to torture him. Carle’s resistance, shared by some at Hotel California, makes him suspect. He leaves CAPTUS in the black site after 10 intense days, questioning whether his psychological manipulation of CAPTUS made him, ultimately, a torturer himself.
Eight years later, the CIA unceremoniously released CAPTUS. (The agency declined to comment for this story.) Whether that means CAPTUS was innocent or merely no longer useful as a source of information, we may never know. Carle spoke to Danger Room about what it’s like to interrogate a man in a place too dark for the law to find.
Worse for all of us, the sitting President who had nothing to do with the US torture regime, according to cables released by Wikileaks awhile back, and only months after winning the Nobel Peace prize, worked secretly to quash a legitimate prosecution of US torturers in the Spanish justice system.
Short version: the US has a lot more to worry about than juiced up athletes. Sure, the media should tell us which athletes are the phonies. But the justice system should be reserved for the torturers, the (real) baby killers and murderers, the scam artists who steal money from grandma (and you and me), and other serious crimes against society. Doping is not one of them, in my view. And torturers, politicians, and financial scammers should not enjoy self-administered legal immunity.
US government doctors who cared for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay deliberately concealed or ignored evidence that their patients were being tortured, the first official study of its kind has found.
A detailed review of the medical records and case files of nine Guantanamo inmates has concluded that medical personnel at the US detention centre were complicit in suppressing evidence that would demonstrate systematic torture of the inmates.
The review is published in an online scientific journal, PLoS Medicine, and is the first peer-reviewed study analysing the behaviour of the doctors in charge of Guantanamo inmates who were subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques that a decade ago had been classed by the US government as torture.
Hippocratic oath? Cheney changed it to Hypocritic oath.
Former Military Interrogator Matthew Alexander: Despite GOP Claims, “Immoral” Torture “Slowed Down” Effort to Find Osama bin Laden [New]
The death of Osama bin Laden has sparked a debate over whether torture of suspects held at places such as the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay helped track down and kill the al-Qaeda leader. Some claim the mission vindicated controversial Bush policies on harsh interrogation techniques. We speak with Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator in Iraq. “The laying of the groundwork, if you will, of these [Bush-era] techniques, I believe wholeheartedly, slowed us down on the road towards Osama bin Laden and numerous other members of al-Qaeda,” Alexander says. “I’m convinced we would have found him a lot earlier had we not resorted to torture and abuse.” [includes rush transcript]
James Ridgeway and Jean Casella in AJE:
The spectre of Bradley Manning lying naked and alone in a tiny cell at the Quantico Marine Base, less than 50 miles from Washington, DC, conjures up images of an American Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, where isolation and deprivation have been raised to the level of torture.
In fact, the accused Wikileaker, now in his tenth month of solitary confinement, is far from alone in his plight. Every day in the US, tens of thousands of prisoners languish in “the hole”.
A few of them are prison murderers or rapists who present a threat to others. Far more have committed minor disciplinary infractions within prison or otherwise run afoul of corrections staff. Many of them suffer from mental illness, and are isolated for want of needed treatment; others are children, segregated for their own “protection”; a growing number are elderly and have spent half their lives or more in utter solitude.
Our prison system makes a mockery of the 8th Amendment. The violence done to those in prison simply produces more violence, among other ills. It is difficult to imagine a more counterproductive system.