Since the “war on terror” began, various policies have been adopted on both sides of the Atlantic that have played on, or exacerbated, our fear of the “Islamic extremist.” Perhaps none has been more pernicious than the recent British practice of stripping citizenship from dozens of people who were considered possible terrorism suspects, as soon as they traveled abroad — which then made it less politically complicated for American agents to hunt them down as dangers.
The power to strip dual citizens of their British rights — habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence included — has been on the books here for decades, but had not often been used until 9/11.… Seguir leyendo »
Living Under Drones, a new report from Stanford and New York universities, was a difficult piece of fieldwork – I was with the law students in Peshawar as they tried to interview victims of the CIA's drone war. But it has made an important contribution to the drone debate by identifying the innocent victims of the CIA's reign of terror: the entire civilian population of Waziristan (roughly 800,000 people).
Until now, the most heated dispute has revolved around how many drone victims in the Pakistan border region are dangerous extremists, and how many children, women or men with no connection to any terrorist group.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Friday, I took part in an unusual meeting in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
The meeting had been organized so that Pashtun tribal elders who lived along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier could meet with Westerners for the first time to offer their perspectives on the shadowy drone war being waged by the Central Intelligence Agency in their region. Twenty men came to air their views; some brought their young sons along to experience this rare interaction with Americans. In all, 60 villagers made the journey.
The meeting was organized as a traditional jirga. In Pashtun culture, a jirga acts as both a parliament and a courtroom: it is the time-honored way in which Pashtuns have tried to establish rules and settle differences amicably with those who they feel have wronged them.… Seguir leyendo »
Disappointment has rippled through the ranks of Obama supporters in recent weeks, with the reviving of Guantánamo military courts and other backtracking in the War on Terror. More worrying still, in Afghanistan, Bagram Air Force Base has become Guantánamo’s evil twin sister — and a bloated twin at that, with a new $50 million prison bringing the number of inmates to more than 1,500, none of whom has ever caught sight of a lawyer or a legal right.
The Obama Administration has supported the Pentagon’s regressive Bagram policy, but this week may have witnessed the first sign of daylight in a very dark secret jail.… Seguir leyendo »
For some years now, the British Government has professed the wrongness of Guantánamo Bay. Tony Blair called it an “anomaly”; others were more forthright. Indeed, the Cuban camp that houses about 250 prisoners, without trial or charges after seven years, is a profound exercise in hypocrisy. The West is here to promote the rule of law, proclaimed George Bush with Mr Blair at his side - but don't ask us to respect it ourselves. Because hypocrisy is the yeast that ferments hatred, the Guantánamo experiment has been a recruiting sergeant for extremism. And so long as the suicide bombers flock to the standard, everyone is a loser.… Seguir leyendo »