The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Swede tortured at Guantanamo

by Jan Strupczewski


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swede released from the U.S. naval base at
Guantanamo Bay last week said he had been tortured by exposure to
freezing cold, noise and bright lights and chained during his 2
1/2-year imprisonment.

Mehdi Ghezali, the son of an Algerian-born immigrant who was arrested
in Pakistan where he says he was studying Islam, told Swedish media in
interviews published or aired on Wednesday that he was subjected to
interrogations almost every day.

The 25-year-old man was released on July 8 after pressure from Sweden
including a meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Goran Persson
and President Bush.

Ghezali told Dagens Nyheter daily and Swedish public radio that he had
answered all questions put to him for the first six months but gave up
talking when his interrogators kept asking the same questions.

After more than two years in the camp, in April this year the military stepped up the pressure on him.

"They put me in the interrogation room and used it as a refrigerator.
They set the temperature to minus degrees so it was terribly cold and
one had to freeze there for many hours -- 12-14 hours one had to sit
there, chained," he said, adding that he had partially lost the feeling
in one foot since then.


Ghezali said he was deprived of sleep for about two weeks by constant
switching of cells and interrogation, was exposed to powerful flashes
of light in a dark room, to very loud music and noise and was chained
for long periods in painful positions.

"They forced me down with chained feet. Then they took away the chains
from the hands, pulled the arms under the legs and chained them hard
again. I could not move," he said.

After several hours his feet were swollen and his whole body was aching.

"The worst was in the back and the legs," he said.

Some of these torture methods have also been used by the U.S. military
on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in a scandal which has
embarrassed the U.S. government this year.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds told public radio that if
correct, the allegations meant that the U.S. had broken international
laws. "That is wholly unacceptable," Freivalds said.

She said that she hoped that the U.S. would investigate the allegations.

Ghezali said he went Pakistan to study Islam in August 2001, before the
September 11 attacks which triggered President Bush's war on terrorism
and the invasion of Afghanistan.

He said he was visiting a friend in the Afghan town of Jalalabad near
the Pakistani border when the U.S. attack started and decided to return
to Pakistan when he heard that villagers were selling foreigners to the
U.S. forces.

But he was captured by Pakistani villagers while crossing the border
from Afghanistan and sold to Pakistani police, who turned him over to
the U.S. military. He was flown from Pakistan to Afghanistan and
arrived in Guantanamo in January 2002.

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Friday, July 16, 2004

Terrorism: Bush's Favorite Boogey-man

by Jim Babka

Pretend for a moment that you're George W. Bush. For the last two weeks
the news has been filled with talk about how your central policy - a
war against a nation that never attacked the United States, never even
threatened to, and almost certainly couldn't have after a decade of
sanctions and embargoes - is failing. The media is reporting, with
seeming delight, how...

* Your promise for a transitional government by June 30 rings hollow,

* Leaders of the provisional government are being assassinated,

* Hundreds of servicemen and women are dying, and

* Pictures of sexual abuse of Prisoners of War by your Department of
Defense - gross violations of the Geneva Convention - are splashed all
over newspapers and television.

And worst of all, your job approval rating is plummeting. It's
dropping, just like your father's approval rating did when he was
running for re-election. It's falling in the same manner that Jimmy
Carter's rating did when he was running for re- election.

Your handlers all realize what the Pew Charitable Trust, Gallup, Zogby,
and the Democratic Leadership Council has already announced in various
forums; that the job approval rating of a sitting president in May of
the election year is the best predictor of that president's election
night percentage.

And your numbers just dropped to 47%. Even worse, your disapproval number just reached 51%.

What do you do? How do you stop the free-fall? How do you change what
the media is talking about? How do you move those pictures off the
front page and the discussion of prisoner abuse off of talk radio?

You call a press conference. You announce a crisis. And if you're
George W. Bush you reach for your proven favorite - terrorism.

You and your crew may have screwed up in Iraq, but Americans still see
you as strong against terrorism. It's time to call a press conference
to remind them of that.

And Wednesday, that's exactly what the Bush Administration did.
Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke to the media and changed the news
cycle. The plan appears to have worked. Since then, no one's talking
about your long list of failures and a P.O.W. scandal this morning.

The level of terrorist activity and the need for a press conference may
be real. But given how this administration has lied about terrorist
threats in the past, I'm a wee-bit skeptical - about the timing that is.

(Note: No sooner had I written this column then evidence arrived to
bolster my skepticism: According to Friday morning's National Journal,
"Homeland Security officials 'say they had little advance notice before
Attorney General John Ashcroft' on Wednesday 'issued his broad warning'
of a possible terrorist attack, the Wall Street Journal reports.
'Homeland Security officials believed the information being used by
Justice, much of which had been known for some time, was not new or
specific enough to merit an announcement or other action.'")

The explosion of a Spanish train right before their national elections
was an indication we should expect something similar here. And the
photos coming out of Abu Ghraib are recruitment postcards for Al Qaeda,
increasing the odds we'll be attacked this Summer. That's not news.

So was Ashcroft standing up for our safety yesterday or did Karl Rove
decide it was time to change the story to save Bush's political
ratings? I don't know. The information yesterday may all have been

But even that says something about this administration. The admission
that we should be on the lookout for such an attack means we might not
even be winning the War on Terrorism. All this effort has amounted to
little. And the Bush-led foray into Iraq may have even increased the
odds we'll face another September 11th.

There's only one long-term solution to the disastrous foreign policy of
the United States - a policy so hideous it creates enemies all over the
globe. Keep telling the story of Iraq so that no American president
will ever want to do such an illegal and stupid thing again.

So while the President tries to change the front-page story, we'll stick to the facts.

Here's a FACT: 65 American servicemen have died in Iraq during the
month of May, including one Army soldier and three Marines the same day
Ashcroft was holding his press conference. Of course, news of the four
was lost in the hubbub of Ashcroft's headline- stealing press

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Thursday, July 15, 2004


Hey! These aren't even political! :)

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Deposits lead to federal charges

Welcome to the USA PATRIOT Act, Title III

Deposits lead to federal charges
Posted on Fri, Jun. 25, 2004
NEVY KAMINSKI, Herald Staff Writer

TAMPA - Federal authorities say a Bradenton man deposited more than $60,000 cash within two days at eight Manatee County banks and wired the cash to his native Jordan to avoid paying taxes.

Belal Al-Thabteh, 27, a naturalized U.S. citizen, told an undercover agent and a bank official that he was sending the money to Jordan because he was planning to move back there to find a wife, Ed Wrage, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified in federal court Thursday.

Al-Thabteh faces a charge of structuring monetary transactions, according to court records.

Federal law requires that all deposits of more than $10,000 be reported. It is against federal law to break up deposits to avoid reporting. Al-Thabteh faces up to 21 months in prison if convicted of the charge.

"It's a form of money laundering, or you sometimes hear it called smurfing," said ICE spokeswoman Pamela McCullough. "By depositing the money like this you avoid having a currency transaction report created."

FBI and ICE agents searched Al-Thabteh's home in the 8700 block of 44th Avenue Drive West Wednesday afternoon and arrested him during a raid that brought a dozen agents to the house and lined the quiet neighborhood's streets with cars, according to neighbors and Al-Thabteh's family. Al-Thabteh's older brother, Mohamod, who owns the home, said the raid was an overreaction considering that his brother is not a violent or dangerous person.

"For the way they came in and for the amount of people that came in and the cars, it was way too much," Mohamod Al-Thabteh said.

Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Tampa said he is concerned that the arrest was a case of racial profiling.

"Ever since 9/11, there has been this paranoia and fear to prevent the next 9/11," Bedier said after attending the hearing. "The paranoia and fear are so high that agents don't want to take chances. . . . Other people that do the same thing aren't treated like this."

Federal agents said their investigation revealed no link to terrorism.

At a preliminary hearing Thursday in Tampa's federal courthouse, Wrage testified about the investigation that led to Al-Thabteh's arrest and Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo ordered Al-Thabteh released on a $200,000 bond pledged by his brother.

Pizzo ordered Al-Thabteh to turn over his Jordanian and American passports to authorities. Pizzo also appointed the federal public defender's office to represent Al-Thabteh pending a review of his financial status.

Bank officials alerted authorities when they noticed that on June 16, Al-Thabteh deposited $16,000 at three Bradenton Bank of America branches, according to Wrage. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Munch said bank records show Al-Thabteh made similar deposits at Gold Bank, SouthTrust and SunTrust banks in Manatee County.

Wrage testified that on June 17, agents from several federal, state and local agencies, including the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, tracked Al-Thabteh as he drove to six Bank of America branches in Bradenton, Longboat Key and Sarasota to deposit $7,000 cash at each bank.

According to Wrage's testimony, Al-Thabteh told an undercover agent that he was making the deposits like this to avoid paying taxes.

Al-Thabteh moved to the U.S. six years ago and became a citizen in January. He is studying at Manatee Community College and once worked at the convenience store his brother owns on Longboat Key.

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Monday, July 12, 2004

I Am Not Responsible
by Russell Madden


When I have difficulty finding a job, it is not because I am lazy or unskilled or intimidated by all the legal hoops the State has created to inhibit citizens from starting their own businesses. It is not because I fear change and am unwilling to try something new. No. It's the fault of foreign competition that floods the market with cheap goods. Or it's due to out-sourcing. Or Walmart.

I am not responsible.

If I am fat, it is not because I eat junk food all day long. It is not because I sit on the couch playing video games or watching TV hour after hour. It is not because I never exercise. It is not because exerting willpower is too much like work. No. It is because of my genetics. Or my metabolism. Or callous corporations like McDonald's trapping me in a "toxic food environment." Or because food is too cheap and too plentiful.

I am not responsible.


To read this great essay, follow this link:

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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Airport Searches

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