Socialist Worker

In brief: Iraq torture, Nick Berg, Marxism 2004

Issue No. 1902

DONALD RUMSFELD, the US defence secretary, personally authorised the expansion of a secret programme that led to US torture of prisoners, it was revealed last week. The programme encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation to obtain information.

Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, also approved the operation. One former intelligence officer says the programme was governed by the rules, "Grab who you must. Do what you want." Seymour Hersh, the journalist who revealed the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, has uncovered Rumsfeld's special operation. Rumsfeld set it up after 11 September 2001.

It is known by several codenames including Copper Green. It aims to sidestep laws which supposedly prevent intelligence agents from apprehending, interrogating and killing suspects. Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for intelligence, applied the programme to Iraq.

"They weren't getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq," a former intelligence official told Hersh. No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone said, 'I've got to crack this thing and I'm tired of working through the normal chain of command. 'I've got this apparatus set up-the special access programme-and I'm going in hot.' So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it's working. But we've got more targets [prisoners in Iraqi jails] than people who can handle them."

Cambone then decided to bring military intelligence officers into the prison alongside the military police guards.


Message to demo

THE STOP the War Coalition received a message of support from Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, the American who was killed in Iraq, to read on the emergency demonstration on Saturday. In the message Michael Berg said,

"When I eulogised my son, Nick, I said that he was my teacher and my hero. He was the kindest, gentlest human being I know or have ever known." He added, "George Bush can see neither the heart of Nicholas nor the American people, yet alone the people his policies are killing daily. Donald Rumsfield said that he took the responsibility for the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners. How could he take that responsibility when there was no consequence? Nick took the consequences of the policies-both stated and given with a wink and a nod by the Bush administration. And, even more than those murderers who took my son's life, I can't stand those who sit and make policies to end lives and break the lives of the still living."


New Labour backs 'merchant of death'

FOUR YEARS ago Labour's Peter Hain, now leader of the House of Commons, called Victor Bout "a merchant of death". Bout ran arms to right wing forces in Angola, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. These wars led to millions of deaths. But now an air freight company owned by Bout is delivering goods to US forces in Iraq.

So the US and Britain are doing their best to stop his name appearing on a UN list of people whose assets will be frozen as punishment for their bloody trade.


British troops stab 20 Iraqis

BRITISH SOLDIERS killed 20 Iraqi Shias with bayonets last weekend in some of the fiercest fighting to break out since the war officially ended. The slaughter took place near the southern Iraqi town of Amara. One year after Bush declared "mission accomplished", areas in British-controlled Iraq are now called war zones.

Fierce fighting also broke out when the US sent tanks and airships into Najaf, one of the Shias' holiest cities, on Friday of last week. US tanks rolled through the streets and through a cemetery sacred to Shias.

The militias were jubilant when US forces withdrew from the city, but clashes continued all weekend as Shias fought to keep the 2,500-strong US force out of the city.


See who's speaking at this great event

THE FULL timetable for Marxism 2004, a socialist festival and conference in London in July, is out now. It shows the range of meetings and debates and the range of speakers from across the world.

They include Walden Bello, Samir Amin, Lindsey German, Olivier Besancenot, Luciana Genro, Tony Benn, Tariq Ali, George Galloway, Mark Serwotka, Ghada Karmi and many more. Just confirmed as a Marxism speaker is an Italian anti-fascist resistance hero. Giovanni Pesce fought with the partisans during the Second World War. He has inspired generations of Italian activists and will inspire audiences at Marxism.

The father of Carlo Giuliani, the young anti-capitalist shot dead during the Genoa protests in 2001, is also speaking at Marxism. This year the Marxism organisers are giving a big boost to the cultural events. Music ranges from rock to hip-hop and classical, while free plays and films are also on offer.

  • Marxism 2004 takes place from 9 to 16 July in central London. Book up now-phone 020 7538 2707, e-mail info@marxism2004.net or go to www.marxism2004.net


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    Sat 22 May 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1902
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