Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Torture Taxi

Connection With Nevada

According to this Las Vegas TV story, extraordinary rendition aircraft have been spotted in Las Vegas. Human rights activists and foreign governments friendly to the U.S. are outraged because of a suspected kidnapping operation being run by American intelligence agencies.

People have been snatched in broad daylight and then whisked to secret prisons, possibly for torture. The planes used in this controversial operation are often seen in Las Vegas, but the connection goes much deeper.

The I-Team first reported on the so-called "torture taxis" in 2006 and has spotted these planes coming in and out of Las Vegas on several occasions.

The aircraft are owned by shell companies set up by unknown agencies, quite possibly the Central Intelligence Agency. Some of the companies were created in Nevada, using phony names and non-existent persons. So far, Nevada officials don't see it as a problem or a concern.

The images are all too familiar -- prisoners being mistreated, others held indefinitely without charges. Even more damaging to America's image have been allegations of torture carried out at secret prisons by American agents or surrogates.

In a way, the legal justification for the torture program has roots in Nevada, since a Nevada lawyer named Jay Bybee, while working for the Bush administration, wrote the legal brief defending such policies.

It's not hypothetical. Some of the very same planes that have been used in the kidnapping and transport of suspected terrorists to dark, unknown places fly in and out of Las Vegas on a regular basis. The I-Team has recorded their arrivals. However, we cannot say what they're doing here, but are pretty sure what they've been used for elsewhere.

Trevor Paglen, of the University of California, said, "It's indisputable at this point that the United States has been kidnapping people around the world, disappearing them, holding them incommunicado, torturing them. It's beyond dispute."

Trevor Paglen is the co-author of Torture Taxi, a book about the so-called rendition planes and the torture program. The planes in question are owned by private companies with clearance to land at any U.S. military base in the world. Track the planes and you can figure out where the secret prisons are located, often in countries with dismal human rights records.

Such information has outraged European governments. Example: Khaled al-Masri, a German national, was vacationing in Macedonia when he was grabbed by masked men, flown to Afghanistan, and tortured for five months until his captors realized they had the wrong guy. Al-Masri is now suing the U.S. Government, along with a Reno company, Keeler and Tate, which owns the plane suspected of transporting Al-Masri to Kabul.

From all indications, the firm is merely a shell, a false front created by an intelligence agency. The only officer listed is one Tyler Edward Tate, a person who seemingly does not exist. The lawyer who incorporated the company is Steven Petersen, who has declined all requests for comment and whom the I-Team discovered, is hard to find, even at his office.

Petersen's office staff didn't know where he was, how to reach him, or when he might return. The I-Team can't find any record of Tyler Tate other than what's filed with Nevada's Secretary of State. It's a felony to file false information with that office, although no one there seems too concerned. The office has known for more than a year that Keeler and Tate is most likely a phony front. But a deputy told the I-Team there's, quote, "nothing they can do until a formal complaint is filed by someone."

In other parts of the country -- in North Carolina and Portland, Oregon, for example -- the lawyers who have filed papers for other fictitious airlines linked to the torture program are being investigated by the state bar. Not so in Nevada.

On Scott Petersen's door is another name familiar in Nevada -- Laxalt. Peter Laxalt is the brother of former governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, a well-connected Washington lobbyist. The lobby directory previously listed the Paul Laxalt Group as sharing the same suite with Steven Petersen. But, as soon as calls were made about the connection, the Laxalt name was removed from the directory.

Trevor Paglen said, "We called the D.C. office. The Laxalt Group denied even having an office in Reno. Their name was on the building directly. We called the secretary and they told us there was a West Coast office of the group in that building."

This is not a dead end. European nations have filed formal criminal charges against numerous American intelligence agents. Khaled El-Masri's lawsuit is moving forward and he has the American Civil Liberties Union helping him. At some point, that suit could force some answers about the mysterious Keeler and Tate in Reno. And, investigations are underway in two states into the lawyers who assisted in setting up the phony companies.

One other point, since the I-Team's first report last year about tracking these planes as they fly to Las Vegas, steps have been taken to hide their arrivals and departures.

Torture System

Finally On Trial

America has deliberately driven hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners insane. Now it is being held to account in a Miami court according to this February 23, 2007 The Guardian story by Naomi Klein.

Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial. This was not supposed to happen. The Bush administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.

Arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Padilla, a Brooklyn-born former gang member, was classified as an "enemy combatant" and taken to a navy prison in Charleston, South Carolina. He was kept in a cell 9ft by 7ft, with no natural light, no clock and no calendar. Whenever Padilla left the cell, he was shackled and suited in heavy goggles and headphones. Padilla was kept under these conditions for 1,307 days. He was forbidden contact with anyone but his interrogators, who punctured the extreme sensory deprivation with sensory overload, blasting him with harsh lights and pounding sounds. Padilla also says he was injected with a "truth serum", a substance his lawyers believe was LSD or PCP.

According to his lawyers and two mental health specialists who examined him, Padilla has been so shattered that he lacks the ability to assist in his own defence. He is convinced that his lawyers are "part of a continuing interrogation program" and sees his captors as protectors. In order to prove that "the extended torture visited upon Mr Padilla has left him damaged", his lawyers want to tell the court what happened during those years in the navy brig. The prosecution strenuously objects, maintaining that "Padilla is competent" and that his treatment is irrelevant.

The US district judge Marcia Cooke disagrees. "It's not like Mr Padilla was living in a box. He was at a place. Things happened to him at that place." The judge has ordered several prison employees to testify on Padilla's mental state at the hearings, which began yesterday. They will be asked how a man who is alleged to have engaged in elaborate anti-government plots now acts, in the words of brig staff, "like a piece of furniture".

It's difficult to overstate the significance of these hearings. The techniques used to break Padilla have been standard operating procedure at Guantánamo Bay since the first prisoners arrived five years ago. They wore blackout goggles and sound-blocking headphones and were placed in extended isolation, interrupted by strobe lights and heavy metal music. These same practices have been documented in dozens of cases of "extraordinary rendition" carried out by the CIA, as well as in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many have suffered the same symptoms as Padilla. According to James Yee, a former army Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo, there is an entire section of the prison called Delta Block for detainees who have been reduced to a delusional state. "They would respond to me in a childlike voice, talking complete nonsense. Many of them would loudly sing childish songs, repeating the song over and over." All the inmates of Delta Block were on 24-hour suicide watch.

Human Rights Watch has exposed a US-run detention facility near Kabul known as the "prison of darkness" - tiny pitch-black cells, strange blaring sounds. "Plenty lost their minds," one former inmate recalled. "I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors."

These standard mind-breaking techniques have never faced scrutiny in an American court because the prisoners in the jails are foreigners and have been stripped of the right of habeas corpus - a denial that, scandalously, was just upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington DC. There is only one reason Padilla's case is different - he is a US citizen. The administration did not originally intend to bring Padilla to trial, but when his status as an enemy combatant faced a supreme court challenge, the administration abruptly changed course, charging Padilla and transferring him to civilian custody. That makes Padilla's case unique - he is the only victim of the post-9/11 legal netherworld to face an ordinary US trial.

Now that Padilla's mental state is the central issue in the case, the government prosecutors are presented with a problem. The CIA and the military have known since the early 1960s that extreme sensory deprivation and sensory overload cause personality disintegration - that's the whole point. "The deprivation of stimuli induces regression by depriving the subject's mind of contact with an outer world and thus forcing it in upon itself. At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father-figure." That comes from Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation, a declassified 1963 CIA manual for interrogating "resistant sources".

The manual was based on the findings of the agency's notorious MK-ULTRA programme, which in the 1950s funnelled about $25m to scientists to carry out research into "unusual techniques of interrogation". One of the psychiatrists who received CIA funding was the infamous Ewen Cameron, of Montreal's McGill University. Cameron subjected hundreds of psychiatric patients to large doses of electroshock and total sensory isolation, and drugged them with LSD and PCP. In 1960 Cameron gave a lecture at the Brooks air force base in Texas, in which he stated that sensory deprivation "produces the primary symptoms of schizophrenia".

There is no need to go so far back to prove that the US military knew full well that it was driving Padilla mad. The army's field manual, reissued just last year, states: "Sensory deprivation may result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, depression, and antisocial behaviour" - as well as "significant psychological distress".

If these techniques drove Padilla insane, that means the US government has been deliberately driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of prisoners insane around the world. What is on trial in Florida is not one man's mental state. It is the whole system of US psychological torture.

· Naomi Klein's book on disaster capitalism will be published this spring; a version of this article appears in the Nation www.nologo.org

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Iraqi Testimony

Of Torture By US And Israeli Forces

The following are testimonies given by Iraqis who were illegally apprehended and tortured by US forces. the testimonies were given at the Global Peace Organization in Perdana KL, Malaysia

The first testimony comes by Professor Ali Shalal, who was tortured at Abu Ghraib Prison, known to the World as the "man behind the hood".

I, Ali Sh. Abbas (alias Ali Shalal) of full age and an Iraqi citizen do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:

I am 45 years old. I now live in Amman, Jordan. I was an Islamic education lecturer in the city of Al-Alamiya, Iraq.

The purpose of making this statutory declaration is to put on record my torture experience in the Abu Ghraib prison.

On the 13th October, 2003 while I was going to prayer in the mosque in Al-Amraya, the American troops arrested me. They tied my hands to the back of my body and put a bag over my head. They took me to a small prison in a U.S. military camp in Al-Amraya.

The Commander of this military camp, one Captain Philips told me that he had received an order from his superior to arrest him and he did not know the reasons for my arrest. I was left alone in the prison.

After two days, they transferred me to the Abu Ghraib prison. The first thing they did to me was to make a physical examination of my body and abused me. Together with other detainees, we were made to sit on the floor and were dragged to the interrogation room. This so called room is in fact a toilet (approximately 2m by 2m) and was flooded with water and human waste up to my ankle level. I was asked to sit in the filthy water while the American interrogator stood outside the door, with the translator.

After the interrogation, I would be removed from the toilet, and before the next detainee is put into the toilet, the guards would urinate into the filthy water in front of the other detainees.

The first question they asked me was, "Are you a Sunni or Shiia?" I answered that this is the first time I have been asked this question in my life. I was surprised by this question, as in Iraq there is no such distinction or difference. The American interrogator replied that I must answer directly the questions and not to reply outside the question. He then said that in Iraq there are Sunnis, Shiias and Kurds.

The interrogators wore civilian clothes and the translator, an Afro-American wore American army uniform. When I answered that I am an Iraqi Muslim, the interrogator refused to accept my answer and charged me for the following offence:

(a) That I am anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic
(b) I supported the resistance
(c) I instigated the people to oppose the occupation
(d) That I knew the location of Osama bin Ladin

I protested and said that Muslims and Jews descended from the same historical family. I said that I could not be in the resistance because I am a disabled person and have an injured hand.

The interrogator accused me that I had injured my hand while attacking the American soldiers. The interrogator informed me that they knew that I was an important person in the community and therefore could help them. As an inducement for my cooperation, the interrogator offered medical help for my injured hand.

When I did not cooperate, the interrogator asked me whether I considered the American army as "liberator" or "occupier". When I replied that they were occupiers, he lost his temper and threatened me. He told me that I would be sent to Guantanamo Bay where even animals would not be able to survive.

They took me to another room and took record of my thumb print, a photo of my eye and a sample of my saliva for DNA analysis. After this procedure, they tagged me by putting a band round my wrist with the following particulars: my name, a number, my religious status and whether I had previous arrest. They then beat me repeatedly and put me in a truck to transfer me to another part of the Abu Ghraib prison.

This part of the prison, was in an open space and consisted of five sectors, surrounded by walls and barb wires and was called "Fiji Land". Each sector had five tents and surrounded by barb wires. When I was removed from the truck, the soldiers marked my forehead with the words "Big Fish" in red. All the detainees in this camp are considered "Big Fish". I was located in camp "B".

The living conditions in the camp were very bad. Each tent would have 45 to 50 detainees and the space for each detainee measured only 30cm by 30cm. We had to wait for 2 to 3 hours just to go to the toilets. There was very little water. Each tent was given only 60 litres of water daily to be shared by the detainees. This water was used for drinking and washing and cleaning the wounds after the torture sessions.

They would also make us to stand for long hours. Sometimes, as a punishment, no food is given to us. When food is given, breakfast is at 5.00 am, lunch is at 8.00 am and dinner at 1.00 pm. During Ramadhan, they bring food twice daily, first at 12.00 midnight and the second is given during fasting time to make the detainees break the religious duty of fasting.

During my captivity in the camp, I was interrogated and tortured twice. Each time I was threatened that I would be sent to Guantanamo Bay prison. During this period, I heard from my fellow detainees that they were tortured by cigarette burns, injected with hallucinating chemicals and had their rectum inserted with various types of instruments, such as wooden sticks and pipes. They would return to the camp, bleeding profusely. Some had their bones broken.

In my camp, I saw detainees brought over from a secret prison which I came to know later as being housed in the "Arabian Oil Institute" building, situated in the north of Baghdad. These detainees were badly injured.

After one month and just before sunset my number was called and they put a bag over my head and my hands were tied behind my back. My legs were also tied. They then transferred me to a cell.

When I was brought to the cell, they asked me in Arabic to strip but when I refused, they tore my clothes and tied me up again. They then dragged me up a flight of stairs and when I could not move, they beat me repeatedly. When I reached the top of the stairs, they tied me to some steel bars. They then threw at me human waste and urinated on me.

Next, they put a gun to my head and said that they would execute me there. Another soldier would use a megaphone to shout at me using abusive words and to humiliate me. During this time, I could hear the screams of other detainees being tortured. This went on till the next morning.

In the morning, an Israeli stood in front of me and took the bag from my head and told me in Arabic that he was an Israeli had interrogated and tortured detainees in Palestine. He told me that when detainees would not cooperate, they would be killed. He asked me repeatedly for names of resistance fighters. I told him that I do not know any resistance fighters but he would not believe me, and continued to beat me.

This Israeli dressed in civilian clothes tortured me by inserting in turn first with a jagged wooden stick into my rectum and then with the barrel of a rifle. I was cut inside and bled profusely. During this time, when any guard walked past me, they would beat me. I had no food for 36 hours.

The next morning, the Israeli interrogator came to my cell and tied me to the grill of the cell and he then played the pop song, "By the Rivers of Babylon" by Pop Group Boney M, continuously until the next morning. The effect on me was that I lost my hearing, and I lost my mind. It was very painful and I lost consciousness. I only woke up when the Israeli guard poured water on my head and face.

When I regain consciousness, he started beating me again and demanded that I tell him of the names of resistance fighters and what activities that I did against the American soldiers. When I told him that I did not know any resistance fighters, he kicked me many times.

I was kept in the cell without clothes for two weeks. During this time, an American guard by the name of "Grainer" accompanied by a Moroccan Jew called Idel Palm (also known as Abu Hamid) came to my cell and asked me about my bandaged hand which was injured before I was arrested. I told him that I had an operation. He then pulled the bandage which stained with blood from my hand and in doing so, tore the skin and flesh from my hands. I was in great pain and when I asked him for some pain killers, he stepped on my hands and said "this is American pain killer" and laughed at me.

On the 15th day of detention, I was given a blanket. I was relieved that some comfort was given to me. As I had no clothes, I made a hole in the centre of the blanket by rubbing the blanket against the wall, and I was able to cover my body. This is how all the prisoners cover their bodies when they were given a blanket.

One day, a prisoner walked past my cell and told me that the interrogators want to speed up their investigation and would use more brutal methods of torture to get answers that they want from the prisoners. I was brought to the investigation room, after they put a bag over my head. When I entered the investigation room, they remove the bag from my head to let me see the electrical wires which was attached to an electrical wall socket.

Present in the room was the Moroccan Jew, Idel Palm, the Israeli interrogator, two Americans one known as "Davies" and the other "Federick" and two others. They all wore civilian clothes, except the Americans who wore army uniforms. Idel Palm told me in Arabic that unless I cooperated, this would be my last chance to stay alive. I told him that I do not know anything about the resistance. The bag was then placed over my head again, and left alone for a long time. During this time, I heard several screams and cries from detainees who were being tortured.

The interrogators returned and forcefully placed me on top of a carton box containing can food. They then connected the wires to my fingers and ordered me to stretch my hand out horizontally, and switched on the electric power. As the electric current entered my whole body, I felt as if my eyes were being forced out and sparks flying out. My teeth were clattering violently and my legs shaking violently as well. My whole body was shaking all over.

I was electrocuted on three separate sessions. On the first two sessions, I was electrocuted twice, each time lasting few minutes. On the last session, as I was being electrocuted, I accidentally bit my tongue and was bleeding from the mouth. They stop the electrocution and a doctor was called to attend to me. I was lying down on the floor. The doctor poured some water into my mouth and used his feet to force open my mouth. He then remarked, "There is nothing serious, continue!" Then he left the room. However, the guard stopped the electrocution as I was bleeding profusely from my mouth and blood was all over my blanket and body. But they continued to beat me. After some time, they stopped beating me and took me back to my cell. Throughout the time of my torture, the interrogators would take photographs.

I was then left alone in my cell for 49 days. During this period of detention, they stopped torturing me. At the end of the 49th day, I was transferred back to the camp, in tent C and remained there for another 45 days. I was informed by a prisoner that he over heard some guards saying that I was wrongly arrested and that I would be released.

I was released in the beginning of March 2004. I was put into a truck and taken to a highway and then thrown out. A passing car stopped and took me home. As a result of this experience, I decided to establish an association to assist all torture victims, with the help of twelve other tortured victims.

I feel very sad that I have to remember and relive this horrible experience again and again, and I hope that the Malaysian people will answer our call for help. God willing.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1960.

The second testimony if from a Fallujan engineer tortured during the war crimes that occured in fallujah in 2005

I, Abbas Z. Abid (Iraqi Passport No: S379532) of full age and an Iraqi citizen do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:I am 43 years old.

2. I live in Fallujah, a city in Iraq.

3. I am an Electrical Engineer. Prior to my arrest and detention, I was the Chief Engineer in the Science and Technology Ministry in Baghdad.

4. The purpose of making this statutory declaration is to put on record my torture experience when I was detained in the “Al-Jadiria” prison.

5. This was originally an underground shelter, but was converted into a secret prison.

6. On the evening of 28th of August 2005, about 10pm, a combined force of American forces and National Guards launched a raid on my brother's house. The force consisted of four American Humvees filled with American soldiers and twelve trucks loaded with Iraqi soldiers. More than 15 American and Iraqi soldiers entered the house in a terrifying manner.

7. My nephews came to my house crying for my help as my brother was not at home that night. I stay nearby my brother.

8. I went to my brother's house and welcomed the soldiers and introduced my self as the chief engineer in the Science and Technology Ministry, and told them that my brother is not available for the time being and that I'm ready to answer any questions. They told me that they're searching the house for incriminating evidence. And when not finding anything illegal in the house, the Commander turned to a table in the living room that was used for studying by my nephews
9. He began to search the table and asked, “Why so many holy books? It's just too many!” I told him that every one in the family has his own holy book. He then examined some papers on the table which were articles downloaded from the internet from various sites - some referred to the violence in Iraq, the future of Iraq and some referred to political figures like Ahmed Al-Jalaby. The Commander asked, “What is this?” and since I didn't know the contents of those papers, I took a quick look at them and told him that they are various articles concerning the situation in Iraq. He said, “I'll take them and show them to my superiors.” He took the articles and the five holy books on the table and left the house.

10. At the front door one of his soldiers whispered something in his ears so he came back and asked me, “What kind of a car is your brother driving?” “Where is it now?” I told him that it is an Opel Omega and it's in our father's garage. The Commander then told me that he wanted to check my father’s house.

11. They searched and found nothing in my father’s house. The soldiers then told me that I was to follow them for further questioning.

12. I was first brought to the Al-Muthanna Brigade Head-Quarters for questioning. They beat me up and demanded to know the names of “terrorists” in my neighbourhood. I told them that I did not know any terrorists. But they did not believe me and continue to beat me. They even electrocuted me and threatened to shoot me. The American took part in the torture and would provide beer to the investigators and guards. I know this because I can hear and understand English.

13. Soon after my detention, the son of my cousin was also detained and he was tortured in order to get a testimony against me. He was released after 18 days of torture and after he had made a false statement against me.

14. I was detained at the Al-Muthana Brigade HQ for four weeks and then transferred to the Al-Jadiria prison. The following detainees were transferred with me:
Hameed Kameel Shared
Taha Hussein
Readh Mustafa
Rabah Mahmoud
Basim Hammed Khalaf
Fauzi Kareem
Muhanned Eesaa

15. There, I was again tortured. My torture consisted of the following:

a. Hitting with various tools (thick cudgels, cables, metal pipes, metal ribbons);

b. Electric shocks in various parts of the body and especially the penis;

c. Forcing me to drink allot of water mixed with a diuretic solution, and my penis then tied with a rubber band to prevent me from urinating;

d. Hanging me from the wall while hanging weights from my penis for long hours;

e. Threaten to sexually assault me;

f. Play with my sexual organs;

g. Frightening me by shooting a gun around, near and above my head;

h. Threaten to sexually abuse my wife and my mother after bringing them to the prison;

i. Cut off all food or drinks (except the water I was forced to drink with the diuretic solution) during the investigation period;

j. Forcefully extracting my finger nails;

k. Hanging me from the wall for long hours until I fainted - the hanging method is by handcuffing my hands to the back and then hang me up from the handcuffed hands so that my shoulder get dislocated;

l. Hanging me from the wall and then hitting me with several tools of torture until the hand-cuffs breaks. That happened many times;

16. Other detainees suffered from the following tortures:

a. Forcing detainees to have sex with other inmates;

b. Their bodies being drilled with a “Black & Decker” drill;

c. Cutting pieces of flesh from the body with a grinding machine;

d. Burning various parts of the bodies with cigarettes and melted nylon;

e. Inserting solid objects in the rectum with wooden sticks, pipes and a vacuum cleaner hose pipe;

f. Make to stand for long hours.

17. I was forced to sign a statement without reading or knowing what's in it because they put a bag over my head. This they do to all prisoners.

18. I was then thrown in the corridor with the bag over my head for long hours. I was then moved to a small room ( 2.5m by 2.5m) together with 30 other detainees; then after three days I was moved to another nearby room (7m by 3.5m) and there were about 70 detainees there. The numbers increased afterwards and reached about 115 in that room.

19. They put the bag over my head for over two months and only remove it when I am given food. Some prisoners would have the bag over their head for over five months. I've seen many unbelievable things in that room such as follows:

a. There was not enough room for everybody, so the detainees were sitting and sleeping over each other and most of them suffered from burns and frictions and severe wounds, some of them were infected with contagious diseases like TB and scabies.

b. Everybody used to urinate in plastic bottles placed near the door. Visits to the toilet are made once every 4 days.

c. We were separated in groups of 15 detainees. A detainee is allowed only 1 minute in the WC and then he had to leave to let another one in. On any other occasion during the four days intervals, we have to discharge our human waste in the plastic bags given to us and right in front of everybody. These bags were used to bring food and we kept them for this purpose. These toilet bags were placed near the plastic bottles at the door. Because it is so crowded, the bottles and bags get knocked over and the waste would be spread all over the room. Those bottles and bags were emptied once every four days when we went to the WC. Whenever we went to the WC and on our return, we would be beaten by the guards.

d. The guards would offer inducements to convince some of the detainees to report on other detainees about what they know or hear or think and they would sometimes make up stories about their fellow detainees to avoid the torture.

e. Detainees who have names like “Omar”, “Baker”, “Marwan” which indicate that they are Sunnis, would receive particular attention from the guards who would yell at them and calling them “son of a bitch”, “bastard” and other humiliating terms.

f. No medical care was available at all, and detainees were left to die from their injuries caused by torture. While I was at the prison, the following detainees died, namely:
Alaa Khareeb Hassan
Mohammed Khadim
Husham Abbas
Omar Ali Mohammed
Khalid Younis Muhseen
Ali Farhan Mohamed
Waheed Mahmoud Abdullah
Haitham Radhi

20. Each group of five detainees was given a 2ltr bottle of water once every 2-3 days; When thirst became unbearable, some of the detainees drunk from the urine bottles in the room.

21. Some of the guards in this prison have mobile phones with tones and songs in the Iranian language and they would talk in a language which I do not understand.

22. Even though the Al-Jadiria prison is under the control of the Minister of Interior, American troops have visited the prison many times and therefore cannot deny the existence of such a prison. Yet in the media, they deny knowing it and deliberately try to give the impression that in this prison, only Iraqis soldiers are torturing fellow Iraqis to distract attention from the tortures in Abu Ghraib.

23. On the 5th of September 2006 I was brought to a court, and the judge ruled that I should be set free for the lack of evidence.

24. I was released on the 2nd of October 2006 with three of my inmates, one of them was Syrian. At the prison's gate my brother was waiting for me in his car and he hired a group of police officers to secure me and to ensure that I reached home safely. I asked my inmates to come with us but they refused. Two cars followed us, a BMW and a Toyota Crown both with black windows. But we were able to evade them.

25. Later, I found out that the inmates who were released with me were killed and buried in (Al-Najaf) cemetry and their parents had to pay huge sums of money to reclaim their bodies from Najaf for re-burial in Baghdad.

26. I stayed about an hour in my house and then moved to another house to stay for a few days. I then left my beloved country.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1960.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My New Friends

From Lebanon

From: Mrs. Nazek Audi Hariri.

Attn: Sir/Maddam,

Greetings to you, with warm heart I offer my friendship, and greetings, and I hope this mail meets you in good time.

However strange or surprising this contact might seem to you as we have not met personally or had any dealings in the past, I humbly ask that you take due consideration of its importance and the immense benefit it will be to you.

After careful consideration with my children, we resolved to contact you for your most needed assistance in this manner. I duly apologize for infringing on your privacy, if this contact is not acceptable to you, as I make this proposal to you as a person of integrity.

First and foremost I wish to introduce myself properly to you. My name is Mrs.Nazek Audi Hariri, mother of five, my husband Mr. Rafik Baha al-din Hariri a very successful businessman and proficient politician in Lebanon.

Though I was involved in some of my husband's business, which was very vast and successful. My beloved husband was among those killed in the massive explosion that rocked central Beirut's fashionable seafront district, on his way back from Lebanon parliament on 14th February 2005.

When my husband died, I was contacted as next of kin by a private security firm in Europe to come forth to claim the consignment with the Certificate of Deposit and claim a safety deposit my husband has in their Vault in his name.

I discovered a Certificate of Deposit for the safety deposit with this private security firm, and other documents relating to the safety deposit in a book. The safety deposit, which is a trunk box, is stocked with hard currency (US Dollars) totaling $36,000,000 (thirty SIX Million US Dollar),which was generated from cash payments from his business associates.

Though I knew my late husband was a politician and the money was reserved for May election campaign.

This came as a shock to me and my children, and we have decided to have this fund invested immediately in commercial and residential properties in abroad as well as profitable ventures, now that the U.S.A Govt. has ordered Syria Govt. to leave and not to intervene in any Lebanon affair and we dont know what is going to happen, hence we sincerely propose to you to render us your most needed assistance in this regard.

If you agree to render us your assistance, your role in thisproject will be to act on my behalf as a trustee to receive the safety deposit containing the funds from the Security firm.

Though I believe this transaction should be based on mutuality,we are offering you 20% 0f the funds and another 5% for the miscallenous expenses that may comes up during this transaction.

When my late husband was alive he was accepted among the populace, but most of the politician here they did not agree with his policy, after my late husband's death,we went to poll,but we lost the election to opposition party.the set of people that could not accomodate the opposition party.

Ever since,member of my late husband family and his political associate has been subjected to witch-hunting by the incumbent goverment this affected some of my late husband's bussiness.

I thank you in advance as we anticipate your assistance in enabling us achieve this goal.

As you may understand, due to my husband sensitive position in the present government, it is not safe to communicate with me via phone or fax.

Please all your correspondence should be forwarded to(mrs_nazek@movemail.com/mrs_nazek_2007@movemail.com) and I will like us to keep this way, for the safety of this transaction.

Whether or not you are interested in assisting us. This will enable us make alternative plans, in the event of non-interest on your part.


Dear Ms:

I read your letter with great interest. I'm sorry for your loss.

I'am interested in doing business with you. I have a representative in Lebanon, who can meet you.

You will be happy to know, that the money will be used in Lebanon, to help promote social change, in all the federated states in the Middle East.

Dr Theo Seuss

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blogger Imprisoned

Despite the fact most of the bloggers disagree with what he writes, and some go labeling his writings as "rubbish", we all agree at least the person has the write to express his thoughts in the name of Freedom of Expression.

"An Egyptian court sentenced a blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president.

Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt. He had used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator. "

Here is the full article

Freedom to Abdel Kareem Soliman!!!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hang Up The Phone!

The Forum received the following letter by email. Though particularly pertinent to those in the US, about half our Forum contacts are from there, and its content with links intact is posted here primarily for their benefit. For the rest of us, it shows something about the sort of democracy the land of the fleece would foist upon us (Ed: "fleece" used in sense of "to deprive of money or belongings by fraud, hoax, or the like; swindle", while standing to halt that "...or the like" by whatever means available wherever we are).

Dear Friend,

Phone companies are voluntarily turning over millions of customer records to the National Security Agency.

Acting without a court order or the knowledge or consent of their customers, phone companies are providing the government with potentially intimate details about who you know and who you talk to - details that are stored in giant databases, and perhaps mined by the NSA's supercomputers to scan through each of our associations and interests for "suspicious" signs, whatever that may be.

This is illegal and un-American. (Ed: last word taken as internal view of one who must not see the place as does the rest of the world) Act now to protect your privacy.

In May 2006, USA Today revealed that since shortly after 9/11 at least two major phone companies - AT&T and Verizon - have been voluntarily granting the NSA direct, mass access to their customers' calling records, and that the NSA had compiled a giant database of those records. This program extends to all Americans, not just those suspected of terrorist or criminal activity.

The goal of this program, according to media reports, is to "create a database of every call ever made within the nation's borders." This information can easily be linked to determine your identity, your friends, and your interests.

That's why the ACLU is supporting an effort by AT&T and Verizon shareholders to force the companies to disclose how they handle customers' personal information, any legal issues with assisting in government spying and how much the companies have spent addressing the spying scandal. Act now to protect your privacy.

Both telecommunications companies are attempting to obstruct discussion of this issue by appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to block the proposed shareholder resolutions.

Act now to stop AT&T and Verizon from abusing your privacy.

As owners of publicly traded corporations, shareholders have a right to vote on issues they feel are vital to preserve their company’s reputation and protect the long-term value of investments and maintain customer privacy. AT&T and Verizon customers, board members and shareholders must be aware of all the issues inherent in assisting the government with its spying.

If you are a shareholder of these companies, a customer, or a concerned citizen, your voice matters to hold AT&T and Verizon accountable and to protect you privacy. So please take action today to protect your privacy.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

And, in the letter's side bar, there was this:

Get Involved: Help End Unchecked NSA Spying

>> With the help of phone companies, the NSA is tapping phones and reading email without a warrant.

Make your voice heard now, and stop warrantless spying by the phone companies.

>> ACLU activists in dozens of states are calling for oversight by the local utility commissions who regulate the phone companies. See what’s happening in your state and around the country.

>> On January 31, the ACLU urged the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to exercise its proper authority, uphold our initial ACLU v. NSA victory, and require the president to shut down his program of unchecked NSA wiretapping. Learn more about ACLU v. NSA.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bang! You're Dead

And I'm Richer For It

This was swiped in full from a thing called OpEdNews.

February 17, 2007

Arms Merchant Bush Assails Quds Force

By Sherwood Ross

Even if he's not lying this time, President Bush's outrage over Iran's Quds Force supplying armor-piercing weapons to Iraq's "insurgents" rings hollow coming from the world's Number One Merchant of Death.

If it's an act of war for the Iranians to help the Iraqis against us, why is it not an act of war for Bush to peddle arms to every Tom, Dictator, and Harry to slaughter their enemies? After all, Bush is selling record numbers of attack helicopters, guided missiles, warplanes and small arms to firebrands and crackpots everywhere.

In 2005, the U.S. peddled nearly half of all weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, "as major arms sales to the most unstable regions --- many already engaged in conflict ---grew to the highest level in eight years," the Boston Globe reported last November 13th. The U.S. sold $8.1-billion worth of weapons, 46% of all, with Russia a poor second at 15%, and UK at 13%.

Globe reporter Bryan Bender said a 2005 World Policy Institute study found the U.S. "transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in an ongoing war." (Gee, which seven got left out? Did Bush hurt their feelings?)

And 13 of those countries were defined as undemocratic in the State Department's own annual Human Rights Report, including top recipients Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan, Bender said.

"We are at a point in history where many of these sales are not essential for the self-defense of these countries and the arms being sold continue to fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas, the Globe quoted Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association in Washington as saying. Kimball added, "It doesn't make much sense over the long term." (Or the short term, pal.)

In October of last year, a UN panel voted to consider whether a new treaty might regulate conventional arms sales. Of 166 countries, the U.S. was the only one to vote "No."

Please note the Big Winners tend to be sited in the Middle East or close by, where they can help achieve the cherished goal of successive U.S. administrations from Eisenhower to the present of controlling the region's hydrocarbon resources. (See "Destroying World Order" by Francis Boyle, Clarity Press.)

When the sale of F-16 warplanes to Bush ally Pakistan was seen as a major threat by India, Bush decided to offer them to India as well. Never mind the warplane's ability to carry atomic warheads may intensify the fear and hysteria felt by the people of both nations. The sales will keep a Ft. Worth, Tex., factory humming.

President Bush's Most Favored arms recipient is ally Israel. It has received a total of 378 F-16s, plus 200 other fighter types supplied by the U.S. Israelis purchase them at $45-million a pop with some of the $2.-billion-plus they get each year U.S. taxpayers, Inter Press Service News Agency said. In 2005, Lockheed Martin got a $29.8-million contract just to provide their spare parts.

IPS quoted Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, that the U.S. Arms Export Control Act requires military items transferred to foreign countries be used "solely for internal security and legitimate self-defense" but that Israel's attacks against Lebanon's "civilian infrastructure and population centers clearly go beyond legitimate self-defense." Zunes said the U.S. "is legally obliged to suspend arms transfers to Israel." (What's with the legal-shm-eagle, Stephen?)

Amnesty International(AI) charged the Israeli attack on Lebanon's infrastructure last summer was on "a catastrophic scale," as Israeli forces "pounded buildings into the ground, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and turning villages and towns into ghost towns," killing 1,183 persons, wounding 4,054 more and displacing 970,000.

Using predominantly made-in-USA weapons, the Israelis "launched widespread attacks against public civilian infrastructure, including power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports and Beirut's international airport." They also took out everything from water pumping stations to supermarkets, AI said, noting two government hospitals in Bint Jbeil and Meis al-Jebe "were completely destroyed in Israeli attacks and three others were seriously damaged."

Much of the country remains blanketed with unexploded, and illegal, cluster bomblets.

Getting back to Iran's alleged crimes in Iraq, it may be recalled the CIA employed Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of President Teddy, in 1953 spread a million bucks around to street gangs and military types to overthrow Iran's elected president Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (now BP).

CIA-paid thugs installed the brutal Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi on the throne, whose SAVAK arrested, tortured, and murdered, thousands. This may have something to do with why, after the Shah was deposed, angry Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. President Carter denounced this, rightly, as violating diplomatic conventions. But isn't it also illegal to overthrow another country by force and violence? (What's with the legal schm-eagle, Sherwood?)

Let's also recall Carter's successor, the avuncular Ronald Reagan, okayed the sale of poison gas to Saddam Hussein, who used it in his war of aggression on Iran to kill and maim thousands of troops. Will somebody tell me, puh-lee-yuz, why the Iranians might think we have it in for them?

I haven't a clue if the Quds Force actually furnished the deadly weapons, but I'm inclined to believe Mr. Bush on grounds it takes one to know one. That's right. When it comes to peddling weapons of war, the hypocritical gentleman in the White House remains the world's uncrowned Hardware King. He's probably just too modest to admit it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Int'l Women's Day

March Against the Veil

From Friday 2 March 2007 from Germany via France, Holland and other countries towards the European Union Building in Brussels

In commemoration of 8 March, International Women’s Day, groups of men and women from towards the European parliament and proclaim that the veil is a manifestation of political Islam and a symbol of the oppression of women.

The march towards Brussels and the European Parliament building will begin on Friday 2 March from Germany.

During the march, meetings and speeches will be organised along the way. Once there, they will submit a grievance against the veil to the European parliament.

Our march is against the veil. It is the voice of protest of millions of women against this symbol of slavery. We demand the banning of child veiling as well as the banning of the veil in all work places and social centres.

Join us in Brussels to express your opposition to the veil and anti-women Islamic laws. Show your support for the widespread women’s liberation and equality seeking movement in Iran.

Long live 8 March, International Women's Day!
Long live Women’s Freedom
Long live socialism

Worker-communist Party of Iran, Organisation Abroad
17 January 2007

For more information, contact:
Germany: Nazanin Boroomand 0049.172.404.4323
Siamak Maki 0049.172.403.7035
Shahnaz Martab 0049.172.971.6227
France: Yadi Koohi 0033624918423
Holland: Bahman Zakeri 0031649906014
Maryam Namazie

CIA Sabotage Manual

In the early 1980s, the right-wing Reagan U.S. Government was determined to undermine or overthrow the leftist Daniel Ortega led Sandinista government of Nicaragua. As part of this campaign, the US Central Intelligence Agency produced a small wacky cartoon comic style illustrated booklet in both Spanish and English designed to destabilize the Nicaraguan Government and economic system. It instructed disaffected individuals on acts of sabotage they could carry out to this end.

The graphically illustrated CIA sabotage/terrorism manual was originally published for the Nicaraguan contras. It called itself a "A Practical Guide to liberating Nicaragua from oppression and misery by paralyzing the military-industrial complex of the traitorous Marxist state with minimal risk for the combatant."

Its introduction gives this

All Nicaraguans who love their country and cherish liberty - men and women, young and old folks, farmers and workers alike - surely ask themselves what they can do with the means at their disposal, to participate in the final battle against the usurpers of the authentic Sandinista revolution for which the people of Nicaragua have fought and shed their blood for so many years. Some may think today's armed struggle requires military supplies and economic resources only available to states or terrorist bands armed by Moscow. There is an essential economic infrastructure which any government needs in order to function which can easily be disabled and even paralyzed without the use of armaments or costly equipment using just a small investment of resources and time.

The following pages present a series of useful sabotage techniques, the majority of which can be done with simple household tools such as scissors, empty bottles, screwdrivers, matches etcetera. These measure are extremely safe and without risk to those who use them as they do not require equipment, skills or specialized activities which can draw attention to the operator. One combatant is able to make many of these without having to turn to collaborators or making detailed plans beforehand. These are acts which can be carried out in an improvised way any time an opportunity presents itself. Our sacred cause needs to have more men and women join its ranks in order to perform these sabotage tasks. However, necessary caution should be taken and only when the task requires it, should any person or persons participate in, or have knowledge of, a given act. As mentioned above, the techniques found in this manual correspond to the stage of individual sabotage (or at the most, cellular, with cells of no more than two persons) of the clandestine struggle. We hope the following is useful to all people who wish to live in freedom.

Thanks to the CIA for making this available. That they may live to regret and will continue more so is not the reader's problem. It’s like, well ... sometimes shit just happens, right?

The goofy cartoons and comments give suggestions and instructions on the following:

Don't do maintenance work on vehicles and machines
Hide and damage tools
Throw tools into sewers
Come late to work
Delay completing tasks
Call in sick so as not to work
Leave lights on
Leave water taps running
Plant flowers on state farms
Steal food from the government
Hoard government food
Leave open the corral gates on state farms
Spread rumors
Telephone to make false hotel reservations etc.
Spill liquids
Drop typewriters
Threaten the boss by telephone
Telephone giving false alarms re fires and crimes
(Turn off factory light, unscrew bulb, place small coin in socket, screw in bulb, fuse blows when lights turn on)
Damage books
Break light bulbs and windows.
Cut telephone cables
Cut cables and alarms systems
(Wet a sponge, wrap tightly with string. let it dry, remove string, introduce sponge into toilet or water drain, which will block when the sponges become wet and swell up)
Paint anti government slogans
Increase government expenditure (cartoons show rocks through police department windows, breaking out traffic signal light, sling shot street lights)
Put nails on roads and highways
Put nails next to tires of parked cars (cartoon on how to bend and sharpen them for effect)
Put dirt or sugar into gas tanks
Put water into gas tanks
Cut and perforate upholstery of vehicles
Break wind screens, wipers, and headlights
Put dirt in carburetor (cartoon of sugar in oil, shave candle wax in oil)
Break distributor coil
Cut or remove engine cables
Remove the rotor cap
Ice pick or similar tool (to radiator, gas tank, tire)
Perforate battery and cables (ice pick)
Invert battery cable connections
Put nails in battery cells
Cut down trees over highways
Put rocks on highways
Dig ditches in highways
Pull down telephone wires (how to make a grapple hook to do so)
(How to make sheet steel tire flattening wedges)
(How to make match book, cigarette, wastebasket timed incendiary)
(Precise Molotov cocktail making and use instructions)
Puncture fuel tank with ice pick and blow it up with Molotov cocktail

The entire illustrated booklet can be obtained as a 2 meg pdf format English language download.

There is also a quicker online look at the Crapaganda site with the comic panels annotated in the original bi-language form.

So wait a minute! Even the CIA can't be that dumb, can they? Remember the Watergate break in where they taped open the spring latch of the office door? A janitor found and removed it. The spooks put the tape back! The janitor found it again and called the cops. That was the tip off that eventually resulted in their President quitting. Yep, they can be that dumb and proved it again with their dopey The CIA Sabotage Manual.

That is not some kind of goofy wishful leftist hoax. There is plenty of US congressional investigation documentation backing that.

The frosting on this dumb dumb cake is that though Daniel Ortega was defeated in a subsequent election, the Nicaraguans just elected him again as their president. So much for comic book diplomacy in that nation.

Now, what do you suppose those clowns have been up to in Iraq, Iran, New York, pick a place?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Iranian Weapons?

No Way

The tail fin assembly of a supposed Iranian-made mortar round is marked "LOT3-2006" "81mm" It's interesting to note that today's date in Iran is 25 Bahman 1385. They don't use our Gregorian calendar whose dates are relative to the reign of Jesus Christ, but rather a Jalali calendar which started numbering years in Muhammad's time. If this is truly an Iranian weapon, 2006 must be an expiration date.

What about that word "LOT" hmmm sounds english to me. Well It's a universal language. Or the word LOT stands for something in Farsi.

How about the 81MM size? Well I guess they are made to use in US or NATO mortars since the Iranians use Chinese 82MM mortars and rounds.

This picture shows a picture of the 81mm Mortar round. It's marked "81MM" "HE" "3-2006".

More Gregorian dates. More English - HE stands for high explosive. I guess the Iranians were being kind in using our western dates, our NATO round sizes, and our abbreviations for what they do. Wouldn't that work better if that were written in Arabic or Farsi?

Gee look, this one is set to expire in 2006 too. Hmmm. They have a life expectancy of over 600 years! How can that be? Maybe the Iranians have developed some technology we don't have.

Ok .. this is the kind of stuff Iranians use. They're Chinese 82mm mortars and rounds. How come they look so different? hmmm. Maybe it's one of those in the left hand picture. Yes, the one marked "type 64"

Iranian weapons? No way. Do you think this is a wag the dog? I do.

Watch as the story changes from Iran made these weapons to Iran Imported the weapons. Overstated briefings... Yea, that's the ticket.

Speaking of investigations, I think we ought to find out who is really supplying those guys in Iraq. I think the answer does not lie too far from our own backyard.

Poll #12 Comments

This post is provided to allow space for comments that reflect upon or go beyond choices offered in the current poll.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One Ball Of Wax

Yesterday's children fashion our world today. Today's will configure tomorrow's. The radical perspective for understanding and dealing with events involves looking through peripheral symptoms in order to cut to the core for causative factors. We might seek that core in a study released today.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) published a report titled "An Overview Of Child Well-Being In Rich Countries". It is self described as "A comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations".

It shows that Britain and the United States are the worst places in the industrialized world for children to live. Child well-being was rated highest in northern Europe, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark leading the list.

The categories measured were material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people's own subjective sense of well-being. The first of its kind study looked at 40 indicators to gauge quality of childrens' lives in economically advanced nations. It found no direct link between gross domestic product and child well-being.

Here is the average overall best to worse ranking among those categories for nations having sufficient data.

1. Netherlands 4.2
2. Sweden 5.0
3. Denmark 7.2
4. Finland 7.5
5. Spain 8.0
6. Switzerland 8.3
7. Norway 8.7
8. Italy 10.0
9. Ireland 10.2
10. Belgium 10.7
11. Germany 11.2
12. Canada 11.8
13. Greece 11.8
14. Poland 12.3
15. Czech Republic 12.5
16. France 13.0
17. Portugal 13.7
18. Austria 13.8
19. Hungary 14.5
20. United States 18.0
21. United Kingdom 18.2

Computer users from the US and UK account for more than half of this Forum's contacts. Though their home press consideration will probably be excused, disputed, denied, and rapidly disappear, the truth won't go away and will remain available to all.

The full 50 page report is a 1.5 Meg pdf format file. You can download it from the UNICEF web site. The document is well supported, fully discussed, and richly illustrated with many comparative graphs.

And, while considering nation ranks, why not see if there is another view? Say, ranking by number of colonies. Among those listed above it is

Netherlands 2
Denmark 2
Norway 3
France 7
UK 14
US 24

We could consider history of imperialistic invasions, but easier to bring it home and up to date. The number of troops in Iraq as of last month among those ranked for child welfare is

Czech Republic 100
Denmark 470
Poland 900
UK 7,200
US 132,000

Well well, seems to be a relation. So a little child will lead them huh?

And, there you have the essence of a radical perspective wrapping suffering up in one ball of wax. Starts with the kids; ends with what we have.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Substance And Source

Ponder if this characterizes more a couple of leaders or those they lead.

Lenin Thought

Of Both Great And Small
By Alexandra Kollontai

(MFL notes: Comrade Kollontai was the first female to become an ambassador not only in the Soviet Union, but also in the world. She was part of the Boleshevics and played a major role in the revolution. I got this article from here)

Lenin's ability to think about the great and important, while not forgetting the small details of everyday life, always amazed me. I was amazed that, while engaged in creating a totally new kind of state, he never missed the opportunity to remind us, even in relation to small details, of the fact that the state, and particularly a socialist state, requires accountkeeping and order. I will cite one example.

It was December, 1917. Christmas was approaching, but at Smolny no-one was thinking of holidays. We were working non-stop. Winter had still not set in properly, sleet was falling and a cold northerly wind was blowing along the Neva.

Nadezhda Konstantinovna was trying to persuade Vladimir Ilyich to leave town for a few days over Christmas. She argued that he needed a respite from work, he was sleeping badly and was clearly suffering from fatigue.

The doctor who ran the Halila sanatorium in Finland, on the Karelian Isthmus, came to see me at the People's Commissariat for Welfare and told me that his sanatorium had a new private residence, warm and well-lit, which he would be more than willing to put at Lenin's disposal. Vladimir Ilyich, however, brushed aside all our arguments. Although we told him that there was a magnificent forest nearby where one could go hunting as much as one wished, Vladimir Ilyich would only answer: 'Hunting is a fine thing, but we have no end of work to do. True, we have already made a start, but even the Bolsheviks cannot organise a new state in two months. That will take ten years at least.'

Nadezhda Konstantinovna interrupted him: 'What? Does that mean you are going to spend all those years sitting at your desk without a break?' 'Well, we'll see how things are later on,' was Lenin's reply.

However, a few days later it occurred to Vladimir Ilyich that if he went away for a few days, he would manage to write a complete new work that he could not find time for at Smolny. This idea so took hold of him that the following morning he said to Nadezhda Konstantinovna: 'If Kollontai at the People's Commissariat really does have a private residence in a forest where no one will disturb me, then I am willing to go.

On the morning of 24 December I went to the Finlyandsky Station to see Vladimir Ilyich off. He, Nadezhda Konstantinovna and Maria Ilyinichna had only just got into their compartment. Vladimir Ilyich sat beside the window, right in the corner of the carriage, in order to be less noticeable. Maria Ilyinichna sat beside him, and Nadezhda Konstantinovna sat opposite.

Vladimir Ilyich thought it would be safer if he went in an ordinary passenger compartment with two Red Army soldiers and a trusted Finnish comrade.

Vladimir Ilyich was wearing his old autumn coat that he had been wearing when he came back from abroad, and also, despite the keen frost, a felt hat. A comrade carrying three fur-coats and a fur hat with earflaps followed me into the compartment.'You can put these on,' I said to Vladimir Ilyich,'when you have to cross open fields in a horse-drawn sleigh, for then, naturally, it will be very cold, and it is a long way from the station to the sanatorium. The fur-coats, I added, are from the stores of the People's Commissariat.' 'That is evident,' said Vladimir Ilyich, opening one of the furcoats, on the inside of which was sewn the number of the storehouse and the item. 'I suppose you did this so that we should not leave the coats behind? State goods like book-keeping, and that is as it should be.

Vladimir Ilyich wanted me to go with them, but I was detained by urgent business at the People's Commissariat, mainly the organisation of aid for mothers and young children. I promised to join them later.

Vladimir Ilyich suddenly remembered that he had no Finnish money. 'It would be a help if you could get hold of at least 100 Finnish marks to pay the porter at the station, and to cover any other minor expenses.'

I ran to the currency exchange desk, but I had only a small amount of money with me, not enough to get even 100 Finnish marks.

Vladimir Ilyich said: 'So, the house stands alone and is well-heated, you say, and one can go hunting in the forest. And what if there are hares?' I answered, that I could not promise hares, but that there were certain to be squirrels. 'Hmm, shooting squirrels is a children's pastime.' Nadezhda Konstantinovna added: 'If Vladimir Ilyich will only go for walks in the forest, and not spend the whole three days sitting at his desk.' 'But there even the air inside will be cleaner,' Vladimir Ilyich interrupted her.

The train started to pull out of the station. No-one else on the platform realised that the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars was travelling as an ordinary 2nd-class passenger.

A few days later, Vladimir Ilyich was back at work at Smolny.

I got a handwritten note from Vladimir Ilyich:

'I thank you for the fur-coats from the stocks of your People's Commissariat, which I return to you safe and sound. They came in very useful, for we were caught in a snowstorm. Halila itself was very pleasant indeed. I am not sending you any Finnish marks as yet, but I have worked out roughly how much it comes to in Russian money – 83 roubles – and I enclose them with this note. I know that you have not got much money to spare. Yours, Lenin.

It was typical of Vladimir Ilyich that, amidst all his enormous problems of state, he could remember such details and always find time to be an attentive comrade

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Road Less Traveled

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost, 1920

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nazanin Fatehi

Has Been Rleased!

Today, 31 January evening, 19 year old Nazanin was released from prison after facing execution for the past year and a half.

She stepped out of prison with a smile on her face to greet her family and supporters who had gathered outside Evin prison.

Whilst there, she spoke to Mina Ahadi, the coordinator for the International Committee against Execution, and thanked all those who had worked for her release.

This was written by my blog team member Maryam Namazie.

Behind The Throne

I like Shujaat for cutting through the bull.

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