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By: Colin Freeman
The siege of the Iraqi mansion lasted five hours, starting with a loudspeakered call to surrender and ending with the crash of missiles from a United States helicopter gunship. By the time it was over, half the house’s wedding cake-style facade was missing, affording the media a unique, through-the-rocket-hole tour when they were finally allowed near it.
Inside we found an elegant inner balcony splintered with bullets, and for anyone with a knowledge of gangster movies, one scene sprang to mind: the closing shots of Scarface, where Al Pacino’s drug baron makes his famous last stand.
“That film was mentioned a couple of times,” grinned Lieutenant Colonel Rick Carlson, commander of a unit involved in the raid, when I put this to him later.
So came the spectacular demise of Saddam Hussein’s notorious sons Uday and Qusay, whose lives resembled a real-life gangster flick, and whose deaths in July 2003 produced one of the few moments of universal good cheer in the ever-mounting gloom of post-war Iraq. For the US military, it was a much-needed morale boost in a steadily fraying mission, netting both the Ace of Hearts and the Ace of Clubs in the “Deck of 55” most wanted. For Iraqis, meanwhile, it meant the passing of two of the regime’s most feared men – in particular Uday, whose psychotic, unhinged brutality made his father look statesmanlike.
Yet as celebratory gunfire erupted over Baghdad, Latif Yahia, a 39-year-old former commando, was one of the few Iraqis who didn’t reach for his Kalashnikov. Not just because he was thousands of miles away in exile in England, where assault rifles are still frowned upon as party poppers, but because he didn’t want to cheer. He wanted to cry.
“The Americans should have taken Uday alive,” he tells me now. “I wanted him to face trial, so that I could tell the world what he had done, all the killing.”
Playboy, murderer, and sadist extraordinaire, Saddam’s elder son left no shortage of people with horror stories to tell in his wake. Yet for Latif, the trauma of his encounter with him was uniquely personal, one that still haunts him every time he looks in the mirror. For back in 1987, after noticing his striking likeness to Saddam’s son, Iraq’s secret service picked him to be Uday’s “fiday”, or body double, a job that involved becoming the living, breathing copy of the nation’s greatest hate figure.
Being the stand-in man on any occasion where Uday feared one of his many enemies might assassinate him was just one of Latif’s occupational hazards. Far worse was the window it gave him into the ruling family’s inner circle, attending Uday’s debauched parties, mixing with his entourage of pimps and thugs, and looking on as his doppelganger rampaged with impunity. And, to his ultimate horror and guilt, sometimes enjoying it.
“Until now, I haven’t slept properly because of thinking about him,” he said. “I am stuck with Uday for the rest of my life, and will probably take him with me to my grave.”
Now, though, 19 years after fleeing Iraq and claiming asylum in Europe, Latif has another chance to give Uday’s crimes an airing, and, hopefully, give his designer-stubbled, Ray Ban-wearing demon a final exorcism.
The Devil’s Double, released this week, is a film loosely-based on Uday’s early life – shot entirely from the point of view of his body double. Coming in the wake of Green Zone and the Hurt Locker, it is the first major Iraq movie to explore life in the ruling clan. And while Uday played no real role in the wider political drama of the war, he proves an illuminating focus point, being in many ways the personification of the regime’s dark side. Addicted to drink, sex and violence in equal measure, he was despised even more than his father – as I myself found when I was a correspondent based in Baghdad after the war.
On the hot July night that news emerged that he had been killed, the Iraqi capital erupted with so much gunfire that I thought a full-scale insurrection had broken out; by contrast, the celebrations when Saddam was caught five months later were more muted.
Iraqis used to tell me that their worst nightmare was Uday inheriting power, a fear that was not without justification, if the words that Latif claimed his employer once said to him are anything to go by: “Just wait till I’m president, I’ll be crueller than my father. You will often remember these words, and yearn for the days of Saddam Hussein.”
Starring Dominic Cooper as both Uday and Latif, the film is directed by Lee Tamahori, best known for his portrayal of violence within New Zealand’s Maori community in Once Were Warriors. The mayhem in that, however, is nothing compared to the savagery in The Devil’s Double. It applies the gangster movie blueprint to an entire country, replacing the Mafia with the Hussein clan, although Uday is far more crazed than anything Coppola or Scorsese have so far conjured up.
In one horrific scene, he uses a carving knife to stab to death Kamel Hannah, his father’s personal pimp, at a party attended by the wife of the recently-deposed Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. The incident is entirely authentic, according to Latif, save for the minor detail that Uday actually used an electric rose pruner that he had at his side. Even so, Latif says the violence has been toned down.
“The movie shows 20 per cent of what really happened, at most,” he says. “On one occasion, in a jail back in ’91, I remember Uday dealing with a Shia prisoner who had been involved in the uprising against Saddam after the first Gulf War. He said: ‘I won’t kill you by the gun,’ and instead put a drill through his head. When he’d finished, he looked around and said: ‘This is what happens to those who stand up against us.’ They killed half the people in that jail, and put the bodies in among those still alive. Then they released the survivors, just so they could tell other Iraqis what they’d seen.”
Latif first met Uday in 1979, when the two were at the Baghdad College High School for Boys, the country’s answer to Eton. The Iraq of that time was a very different place: Saddam, newly in power, was still relatively popular, having used Iraq’s oil money to create one of the Middle East’s most developed countries, while Baghdad was the region’s party capital, full of bars, discos and nightclubs.
Even then, Iraq’s First Family were a law unto themselves. Latif’s teachers learnt this the hard way when Uday first turned up at school, surrounded by five bodyguards. Having turned a blind eye to his habit of throwing chalk at them during lessons, and parking his yellow Porsche in the school’s basketball court, one teacher finally protested when Uday brought a girlfriend into class. “The teacher told Uday this was forbidden in an all-boys school,” recalls Latif. “He was never seen again.”
A keen painter, Latif won Uday’s friendship after drawing a portrait of Saddam, but knew to keep his distance. When university beckoned, he even switched to reading law when learning that Uday had enrolled on the same engineering course.
Then, one day in September 1987, while serving at the front during the Iran-Iraq war, he was whisked by limousine to a palace in Baghdad, where Uday, sat in a white leather armchair and smoking one of his trademark Montecristo No 6 cigars, told him of the top-secret plan to make him his “fiday”. After all, his father had been using one for years. “I want you to be me. Everywhere, always,” he said. It was an order, not a request. When Latif at first refused, he was thrown for days into a blood-encrusted jail cell with no lavatory. When he still protested, Uday threatened to feed his sisters to his pet dogs.
Thus began his secret service-organised “training programme”. He and Uday already bore a sharp resemblance to each other, with the same round eyes, thick eyebrows and slightly curly hair. But nothing was left to chance. To start, there was cosmetic surgery – a cleft added to the chin, and dental treatment to mimic Uday’s bucktoothed grin, which even gave him Uday’s distinctive lisp as well. To be really convincing, though, he also had to study the unique Uday school of deportment, honing, as he puts it, a “supercilious, dictatorial arrogance”.
How to mimic Uday’s childlike giggle, cocky stride and slovenly manners, always sitting slumped rather than straight up. How to greet people with a studied stare, and make his point by gesturing with a revolver. How to cruise around Baghdad in a different Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini every day, which also had to match whichever loud designer suit he was wearing. How to cradle a Montecristo between middle and index fingers, and knock back vast quantities of Dimple, the unsophisticated Scotch that was Uday’s favourite. And how, when attending discos, to up the tempo by blasting a few gunshots into the ceiling. For Latif, though, the hardest part of the fakery was played on his own family. He signed a contract saying he would never, on pain of execution, tell anyone that he was Uday’s double; this included his parents, who were told he had gone missing at the front, and whom he was forbidden from seeing again.
At first, being Uday had benefits. Latif was billeted in a five-star apartment with four full-time servants, its own bar, and a wardrobe packed with Uday’s hand-tailored clothes. He was also introduced to Saddam himself, or a man he assumes was him: one scene in the film shows the Iraqi leader playing tennis with his own double, the two impossible to be tol apart. But the scales soon fell from Latif’s eyes as he saw at first hand Uday’s appalling behaviour, which was normally covered up by Iraq’s state-controlled press.
Saddam’s son ran his own dark empire in Iraq, controlling the lucrative underworld smuggling rackets that thrived during the years of UN sanctions. His vast wealth allowed him to buy hundreds of cars, stashed all over Baghdad in underground garages and torched once the US invaded so nobody else could own them. (Uday employed somebody just to scour the internet for photos of new or collectable cars, which were then placed in a ring binder. He employed his own fisherman and two lion-tamers, too.)
He also ran the Iraqi Olympic Committee – the only one in the world that had its own jail, where athletes who did badly in international contests would be tortured using increasingly elaborate methods Uday had found on the internet. Worst of all, though, was his penchant for kerb-crawling around Baghdad.
Like Uday’s request for Latif to become his “fiday”, proposals of a quick night of romance with the president’s son were not negotiable. Dozens of girls would be paraded before him at the Baghdad Boat Club every night, and most would end up in his bedroom. Those who refused were abducted by his bodyguards and raped, first by Uday, and then by his henchmen. (It’s said he never slept with the same girl more than three times.)
Latif chronicles several such incidents in his book I Was Saddam’s Son, including the events of one notorious night at Habbaniya, a resort in Iraq’s western desert. Spotting a woman on honeymoon, Uday dragged her up to his sixth-floor hotel room, where he beat and raped her.
“Afterwards, he comes grinning out of the bedroom, pours himself a brandy and goes on chatting as though nothing had happened,” Latif writes. “Suddenly, we hear a long shrill scream that goes on forever. I dash into the bedroom, and see the door open to the balcony… she jumped from the sixth floor because she couldn’t stand the shame. What could I have done? Uday’s bodyguards, who almost derived more pleasure from their boss’s acts of cruelty than he did himself, would have killed me.”
So what made Uday so crazy? The Devil’s Double doesn’t dwell on this too much, but Latif has theories of his own. For all that Uday’s childhood was spoilt and overindulged, he points out, it was also traumatic.
Saddam, he claims, inducted Uday into the ways of the “family firm” from a young age, taking him to his first public execution aged just five, and, aged ten, showing him videos of regime opponents being tortured. Living up to family expectations was also hard. After all, when your father has already grabbed the titles of President, High Excellency, and Conqueror of All Iraq, there is very little left to achieve.
“This evil man, this gangster, he would cry like a baby when he was drunk, and talk about how his father ignored him,” says Latif. “He was close to his dad, but after he murdered Kamel Hannah [the pimp killed with a rose pruner], Saddam started favouring his brother Qusay to take over from him. At that time Uday also got rid of all his professional bodyguards, and just had pimps and thugs around him. That made things even worse.”
Things got worse for Latif too, as anger over the gassing of the Kurds in 1988 and disastrous 1991 Gulf War defeat made the ruling family more unpopular. He suffered two assassination attempts during public engagements on his boss’s behalf, nearly losing a finger in a grenade blast. When he returned to Baghdad for treatment, however, Uday’s only concern was that he too may have to forfeit a finger if his double’s digit couldn’t be saved. The film eventually depicts Latif escaping Iraq with one of Uday’s former girlfriends, Sarrab, and as the closing credits point out, “the rest is history”.
Minus his double, Uday spent his final years paralysed from the waist down after being shot while out cruising for girls one day, although even that does not seem to have curbed his lust. When US troops searched his various hide-outs after the war, they reportedly found Viagra, porn movies and an HIV testing kit, as well as millions of dollars’ worth of fine wine and a heroin stash.
Latif, who now lives and blogs in Belgium, joined the exiled anti-Saddam opposition, although to this day, he insists the US-led invasion was a mistake, simply replacing one gangster clique with many. “I knew it would put Sunni and Shia and Kurd against each other,” he says. “Now you have lots of people all wanting to behave like Saddam and Uday.”
Nor does he wish ever to return to his home country, whatever rosy claims are made in the West about it now becoming a democracy. Because from his own bitter experience, the problem is not just the thugs who tend to hog power in Iraq, but the willingness of the people to follow them slavishly.
“The problem is not Iraq as a country, but the people. I am sorry to say this, but if you read the history of Iraq, you will see it has been like this for 7,000 years – that is to say,
a–holes, clapping their hands for anyone, and selling their mothers for money. It will take 50 years, maybe more, to change the place.”
The Devil’s Double opens in cinemas on Friday
WASHINGTON — As the American-led ground offensive in the first war with Iraq got under way on Feb. 24, 1991, directed his frustration at an unlikely target: the Soviet leader . Mr. Hussein had dispatched his foreign minister to Moscow in an 11th-hour bid to head off a ground war.
After prodding by Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Hussein had offered to withdraw Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 21 days. But the United States appeared to be moving ahead with its land campaign.
“The situation is now is getting worse,” Mr. Hussein had written the previous night in an emotional letter to the Soviet leader. “Our nation and army are confused. We are asking ourselves which one is more significant: the Soviet Union’s proposal or the Americans’ threats?”
Speaking to trusted aides, Mr. Hussein was less diplomatic, denouncing Mr. Gorbachev as a “scoundrel” who lacked the will or influence to stay the first President George Bush’s hand. “He tricked us,” Mr. Hussein said. “I knew he would betray us!”
The disclosures about Mr. Hussein’s closed-door deliberations that first day of the Persian Gulf land war are documented in an extraordinary Iraqi archive, which includes 2,300 hours of recorded meetings and millions of pages of documents, that was captured by United States forces after the 2003 invasion.
On the 20th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm (the air campaign began on Jan. 17, 1991), three transcripts of Mr. Hussein’s fateful decisions are being released to coincide with a symposium in Texas on Thursday with Mr. Bush and members of his war cabinet. Only a small portion of the archive, stored in digital form at the National Defense University, has been declassified and opened to outside researchers. (A 2008 government report drew on the three Feb. 24 transcripts, but until now they have not been available in their entirety.)
The war’s history has been well documented, but the three transcripts provide gripping new details of what went on inside the Iraqi command, including Mr. Hussein’s anger at Mr. Gorbachev and his misinterpretation of the United States’ military actions.
With only fragments of information coming from the battlefield and a room full of subordinates eager to applaud the faintest glimmer of success, Mr. Hussein was convinced that the United States lacked the resolve to wage a grinding ground war, the transcripts show.
Even if the Americans suffered just one casualty for every four Iraqi casualties, he boldly predicted, the United States would falter. He lectured his aides that igniting Kuwait’s oil fields to hinder the allied warplanes was a valid military tactic that would not enrage the world. And he and his aides kept misreading the signals about whether the ground assault had even begun.
Studied along with a parallel archive of declassified transcripts at the George Bush Presidential Library at, the captured Iraqi records depict Mr. Gorbachev as eager to engineer a solution that would protect the Soviet Union’s former Iraqi client and make the Soviets an equal partner with the United States in international diplomacy, but unwilling to jeopardize his relations with the Bush administration.
Mr. Bush emerges as a leader who sought to mollify Mr. Gorbachev even as the United States stuck to its demand for the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
“It is your neighborhood, and some of them are your friends,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Gorbachev in a phone call on Feb. 22, 1991. “We recognize Soviet interests in the area. I want to get our forces out of there as soon as possible. I know how the Iranians and others feel.”
Jeffrey A. Engel, a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A & M, noted that the exchanges showed that “despite heated discussions at the height of war with Iraq, Bush and Gorbachev were fundamentally concerned with safeguarding the future of Soviet-American relations.”
After the air campaign began in January, preparations for a possible ground attack in Iraq were stepped up. With the ground war just days away, Mr. Gorbachev mounted a peacemaking effort., the Iraqi foreign minister, arrived in Moscow on Feb. 21. Later that day, Mr. Gorbachev told Mr. Bush in a phone call that he sensed a “serious shift” in Iraq’s position, according to a transcript in the Bush Library.
Iraq, Mr. Gorbachev said, was no longer demanding that resolution of the gulf crisis be linked to other issues in the Middle East. And although the Iraqis had initially demanded that they be given six weeks to leave Kuwait, the Soviets had insisted that the schedule be shortened to 21 days. That timetable still fell short of Mr. Bush’s demands that Mr. Hussein unconditionally remove his troops and pay reparations to Kuwait and that a plan be worked out to deal with Iraq’s poison gas, biological weapons and nuclear arms programs.
Mr. Gorbachev’s diplomatic efforts were undermined on Feb. 22 when the Kuwaiti oil well fires that Mr. Hussein had ordered set — and which he saw as a defensive measure — were described by Mr. Bush in his conversation with the Soviet leader as a “scorched-earth policy” and a reason to not delay military action. Mr. Bush said it should take the Iraqis no more than seven days to pull out of Kuwait, and he issued them an ultimatum to take action before noon the following day.
On Feb. 23, just minutes before the noon deadline, Mr. Bush and the Soviet leader spoke by telephone. Mr. Gorbachev argued that joint American-Soviet action through thewould establish a model for dealing with other crises.
“George, let’s keep cool,” Mr. Gorbachev said. “Saddam wants to stall, but we are not simpletons.”
But Mr. Bush’s patience had been exhausted. “Mikhail,” he said, “I appreciate that spirit, but I don’t want to leave a false impression there is any more time.” If the Iraqis intended to comply with the withdrawal demand, he said, it would need to happen “in the next few minutes.”
In Baghdad the next morning, Mr. Hussein waited anxiously for word from his foreign minister, who had left Moscow. “When will Comrade Tariq arrive?” the Iraqi leader asked. Told that Mr. Aziz had yet to return to Baghdad, Mr. Hussein demanded: “What do you mean he has not arrived?” He read aloud a headline: “Tariq Aziz Arrives in Baghdad.”
As he waited for the minister to show up, Mr. Hussein instructed his subordinates to read a letter he had sent to Mr. Gorbachev the night before, asking the Soviet president why he was not doing more to oppose Mr. Bush’s decision to start the ground war. “We trusted you,” Mr. Hussein wrote.
The conspiracy-minded Iraqi leader seemed both baffled and angry.
“In typical fashion, he suspected that Iraq had been stabbed in the back, this time by disingenuous Soviet mediation efforts,” said David Palkki, the deputy director of the research center that houses the declassified Hussein archives.
Mr. Gorbachev’s reply was not reassuring. He wrote that Mr. Bush did not agree with the Soviet proposal, and that if Mr. Hussein wanted to avoid a ground war, he should immediately issue a statement saying that Iraq would withdraw its forces within 9 to 10 days, which was close to Mr. Bush’s seven-day timeline.
When Mr. Aziz finally arrived to see Mr. Hussein, the Iraqi leader greeted him with a laugh: “Are you up to surprises like Bush?”
To elude American warplanes, Mr. Aziz had returned via Jordan and traveled by road to Baghdad. Like two teenagers discussing the latest muscle car, Mr. Hussein and his foreign minister talked about how fast it was possible to drive on Iraq’s roads.
“We were going 220 on the highway,” Mr. Aziz said, referring to kilometers. That translates to more than 130 miles per hour.
Neither official put much hope in getting help from Iraq’s neighbors. One aide asked about Iran, whose eight-year war with Iraq had ended in 1988. “We are done dealing with the Iranians this time,” Mr. Aziz said. Added Mr. Hussein: “Like all new revolutions, they talk too much.”
With little accurate intelligence, Mr. Hussein and his command failed to grasp their adversary’s strategy. The Iraqis believed an American amphibious landing — a giant feint intended to distract Iraqi troops — was likely.
And Mr. Hussein initially mistook some probing actions by the American military as signs that a major attack had been mounted and contained. “If this is the initial shock,” Mr. Hussein said, “then the attack has failed.”
But as the day wore on, the seriousness of the predicament became more apparent. Frustrated at their inability to negotiate a compromise on their terms, the Iraqi officials speculated that casualties that the United States would suffer in a ground attack would lead Mr. Bush to soften his demands.
“Let us pray to God to grant us success to slaughter any number of them,” Mr. Aziz said. “That is what is going to help us get results.”
“Let them come to Karbala city,” Mr. Hussein said confidently. “It will become their cemetery.”
keywords: WikiLeaks, U.S. Intelligence, U.S. Army, National Ground Intelligence Center, NGIC, classified, SE- CRET, NOFORN, Red Cell.
restraint: Classified SECRET//NOFORN (US)
date: February 2, 2010
group: author: CIA Red Cell
author: CIA Red Cell
This CIA ”Red United States is an exporter of terrorism; ’Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin. This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens.’ The report looks at a number cases of US exported terrorism, including attacks by US based or financed Jewish, Muslim and Irish-nationalism terrorists. It concludes that foreign perceptions of the US as an ”Exporter of Terrorism” together with US double standards in international law, may lead to noncooperation in renditions (including the arrest of CIA officers) and the decision to not share terrorism related intelligence with the United States.
A Red Cell Special Memorandum 5 February 2010
What If Foreigners See the United States as an “Exporter of Terrorism”? (S//NF)
Much attention has been paid recently to the increasing occurrence of American-grown Islamic terrorists conducting attacks against US targets, primarily in the homeland. Less attention has been paid to homegrown terrorism, not exclusively Muslim terrorists, exported overseas to target non- US persons. This report examines the implications of what it would mean for the US to be seen increasingly as an incubator and “exporter of terrorism.” (S//NF)
Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin. This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens.
• Late last year five young Muslim American men traveled from northern Virginia to Pakistan allegedly to join the Pakistani Taliban and to engage in jihad. Their relatives contacted the FBI after they disappeared without telling anyone, and then Pakistani authorities arrested them as they allegedly attempted to gain access to al-Qa’ida training facilities.
• In November 2008, Pakistani-American David Headley conducted surveillance in support of the Lashkar-i-Tayyiba (LT) attack in Mumbai, India that killed more than 160 people. LT induced him to change his name from Daood Gilani to David Headley to facilitate his movement between the US, Pakistan, and India.
• Some American Jews have supported and even engaged in violent acts against perceived enemies of Israel. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American Jewish doctor from New York, emigrated to Israel, joined the extremist group Kach, and killed 29 Palestinians during their prayers in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron which helped to trigger a wave of bus bombings by HAMAS in early 1995.
• Some Irish-Americans have long provided financial and material support for violent efforts to compel the United Kingdom to relinquish control of Northern Ireland. In the 1880s, Irish-American members of Clan na Gael dynamited Britain’s Scotland Yard, Parliament, and the Tower of London, and detonated bombs at several stations in the London underground.In the twentieth century, Irish-Americans provided most of the financial support sent to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The US-based Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID), founded in the late 1960s, provided the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) with money that was frequently used for arms purchases. Only after repeated high-level British requests and then London’s support for our bombing of Libya in the 1980s did the US Government crack down on Irish-American support for the IRA. (S//NF)
CL BY: 0711195
CL REASON: 1.4 (d)
DECL ON: 20350204
DRV FRM: FOR S-06
There are times when the lyrics of certain songs ring true and at this very moment the words of the enduring Clash song ‘Should I stay or should I go’ have never been meant so earnestly as they are for Brian Cowen. At a time when Ireland is facing into the hardest times since most of this generation don’t want to remember, An Taoiseach, is having this very debate with his party members.
Don’t just believe that the title of the song is true in Brian’s case, no, indeed the lines ‘If I go there will be trouble, and if stay there will be double!’ are just as sharp. Either way, with a new Taoiseach at the helm Ireland is in for harsh times, the question I suppose is why Mr Cowen won’t stand down, is it out of a strong sense that he can undo his wrongdoing while he was Minister for Finance? Or is it that he doesn’t want the full scale of his bed-sharing with the likes of Anglo exposed and the only way of making sure that he isn’t exposed at least until after the demise of the present government is to hold his chair.
Many things about the last few years in Ireland have addled my brain, Ireland or should I say ‘The Irish’ were famous worldwide and I should probably mention Respected also, for being fighters, what has happened?? Has money made ye all soft?? Not since the farmers marched on Dublin in the 1970’s has Ireland seen any meaningful resistance or opposition to it’s government although I have heard plenty bemoan the situation on the street, but when it comes to the crunch no-one is willing to get out there and make their voices heard, I know that the Irish invented guerilla warfare as such, but unfortunately those tactics don’t work too well on democracy, not that Ireland really has one. The apathy in the Irish Nation to their political parties astounds me, the whole ‘one lot is as bad as the other’ sentiment is really heartbreaking for me to hear, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT THEN!
Very shortly the Fianna Fail/PD coallition will have to call a general election, I would hope that with Brian Cowen at the helm the Irish people would give a resounding NO, and with any luck Mary Harney will not only lose her seat but leave the country for good, how she has kept her chair for so long having done such a disasterous job over the past 12 years is beyond comprehension, but then again maybe we can put it down to the reason we keep seeing the same faces just in different jobs, it’s all about the dirt she has on the rest of them.
They say that ‘you get the Government you deserve’ if that’s the case, well then Ireland is rightly screwed. Ireland needs another revolution, why not? The government it has isn’t working for the people, the opposition are just that, opposition, they have been out of power for so long they wouldn’t know what to do with it if they got it and with as much repect as I have for socialist ideals, I do not believe that a Labour/Sinn Fein government would go down very well with our European partners, especially since they have all the buckets.
So, what to do then, well first things first, get rid of Cowen, at least then you have hopefully stopped the rot, I have faith in Lenihan, I think that the man truly believes in what he is doing and has the country’s best interest at heart, it is just a tragedy that he had to be brought in to clean up Cowen’s mess and he is taking the brunt of it. While I am on the subject, if I were able to give out medals or commendations I would give one to Brian Lenihan, to battle cancer, try to keep a sinking country afloat while your party is in turmoil and have a life with your family all at once, well done Mr Lenihan! I think that the jibes that he has received from Europe were underhanded at best.
If Tunisians can march in enough force to drive their President Bin Ali of 24 years out of the country never mind his office, why is it that the Irish can’t if you compare the reasons for the Tunisian’s revolt to the Irish situation, I think the Irish have more to complain about really, let Europe take the reigns for a while, it’s not like they’re not already here! Pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off, and hold your heads high!
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.
The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of “The Iraq War Logs”, the world’s previously largest classified information release).
The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.
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Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.
“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.
The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA.
Assange or Mansour, however, didn’t disclose the names of these officials. The WikiLeaks founder said he feared he could be killed but added that there were 2,000 websites that were ready to publish the remaining files that are in possession of WikiLeaks after “he has been done away with”.
“If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files. We have protected these websites through very safe passwords,” said Assange.
Currently, his whistle-blowing website is exposing files in a ‘responsible’ manner, he claimed. “But if I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to,” thundered the WikiLeaks founder. “We must protect our sources at whatever cost. This is our sincere concern.”
Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly sends ‘suspects’ for ‘interrogation and torture’, he said.
WikiLeaks is receiving sensitive files from Afghanistan, Kenya, Russia and China, among other countries. For nine years the US and Nato forces have failed to silence people in Afghanistan because the people there are loyal and truthful. The US marines fighting in Afghanistan are not happy being there and don’t really know why they are there and fighting for what, said Assange.The US is trying to use latest technology to disrupt his website but in vain.
“Washington is also projecting me as a terrorist and wants to convince the world that I am another Osama bin Laden,” he said. According to Assange, he will be put on a trial for his various expose in a special court in London from January 11, 2011 and this court deals with terror-related cases.
“If the UK (where I am based right now) decides to hand me over to Sweden for alleged cases of sexual abuse, they (Stockholm) would hand me over to the US,” he said. Assange said he feared that the US might slap laws declaring him as a spy who had been acting against Washington. The Pentagon has set up a ‘war room’ manned by 120 officials and their job is just to disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks, he said.
“We have more files dealing with defense issues of Central Europe, but I or my staff didn’t have the time to go through all of them.” What is being published by the five media partners of WikiLeaks are publishing only those details which they think are interesting for their readers. There are some Arab officials who are ‘stealing’ oil of their countries.
“We need these media partners to focus more on this issue,” Assange said in this extensive, interesting and last version of his interface with Doha-based Aljazeera. US embassies around the world are very anxious about Israel, Iran, Labour unions, arms dealings (mainly selling of American arms), and spying through high-tech devices.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Joint Statement On Wikileaks
2. At the same time, the right of access to information should be subject to a narrowly tailored system of exceptions to protect overriding public and private interests such as national security and the rights and security of other persons. Secrecy laws should define national security precisely and indicate clearly the criteria which should be used in determining whether or not information can be declared secret. Exceptions to access to information on national security or other grounds should apply only where there is a risk of substantial harm to the protected interest and where that harm is greater than the overall public interest in having access to the information. In accordance with international standards, information regarding human rights violations should not be considered secret or classified.
3. Public authorities and their staff bear sole responsibility for protecting the confidentiality of legitimately classified information under their control. Other individuals, including journalists, media workers and civil society representatives, who receive and disseminate classified information because they believe it is in the public interest, should not be subject to liability unless they committed fraud or another crime to obtain the information. In addition, government “whistleblowers” releasing information on violations of the law, on wrongdoing by public bodies, on a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, or on a breach of human rights or humanitarian law should be protected against legal, administrative or employment-related sanctions if they act in good faith. Any attempt to impose subsequent liability on those who disseminate classified information should be grounded in previously established laws enforced by impartial and independent legal systems with full respect for due process guarantees, including the right to appeal.
4. Direct or indirect government interference in or pressure exerted upon any expression or information transmitted through any means of oral, written, artistic, visual or electronic communication must be prohibited by law when it is aimed at influencing content. Such illegitimate interference includes politically motivated legal cases brought against journalists and independent media, and blocking of websites and web domains on political grounds. Calls by public officials for illegitimate retributive action are not acceptable.
5. Filtering systems which are not end-user controlled – whether imposed by a government or commercial service provider – are a form of prior censorship and cannot be justified. Corporations that provide Internet services should make an effort to ensure that they respect the rights of their clients to use the Internet without arbitrary interference.
6. Self-regulatory mechanisms for journalists have played an important role in fostering greater awareness about how to report on and address difficult and controversial subjects. Special journalistic responsibility is called for when reporting information from confidential sources that may affect valuable interests such as fundamental rights or the security of other persons. Ethical codes for journalists should therefore provide for an evaluation of the public interest in obtaining such information. Such codes can also provide useful guidance for new forms of communication and for new media organizations, which should likewise voluntarily adopt ethical best practices to ensure that the information made available is accurate, fairly presented and does not cause substantial harm to legally protected interests such as human rights.
Catalina Botero Marino
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression