December 16th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Nir Rosen on the Palestinians in Lebanon--WashPost 12/16/07

Nir Rosen is a fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of
"In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq."

*Scapegoats in an Unwelcoming Land*

By Nir Rosen
Sunday, December 16, 2007; B02

Last Wednesday, a car-bomb blast on a crowded Beirut street killed Brig.
Gen. Francois Hajj, one of Lebanon's top generals. The capital began
buzzing with speculation that Hajj had been assassinated in retaliation
for his role as the operational commander of the army's bloody
three-month battle with an armed Islamic group last summer. In May,
Fatah al-Islam -- a foreign jihadist group inspired by al-Qaeda, led by
veterans of the struggle in Iraq and made up mostly of Saudis, Syrians
and even some Lebanese -- ensconced itself on the outskirts of Nahr
al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, and massacred
Lebanese troops at an army checkpoint. Hajj's forces responded by
indiscriminately bombarding the camp in the name of the war on terror,
and the Lebanese public rallied 'round.

Palestinians had once again become Lebanon's scapegoats, victims of a
land in which they have long faced slaughter and discrimination.
Attacking them may be personally risky, but it's also often good
politics; the assassinated general's boss, army commander Gen. Michel
Suleiman, is poised to become Lebanon's next president. Suleiman isn't
the first army commander to punish the Palestinians, and he won't be the
first president to do so, either. Between 1958 and 1964, President Fuad
Shehab created an elaborate, ruthless secret-service network to monitor
the Palestinian camps. During his 1970-76 reign, President Suleiman
Franjieh clashed militarily with Palestinian factions, even using the
air force to bomb a neighborhood thought to be pro-Palestinian. I've
heard followers of assassinated president-elect Bashir Gemayel, whose
Maronite Christian militia massacred Palestinians in 1976, brag that he
was stopped at a checkpoint in the early years of the country's 1975-90
civil war with a trunk full of the skulls of dead Palestinians. Even
today, the Lebanese opposition's preferred candidate for president is
Michel Aoun, a Christian retired general who also participated in the
1976 killings.

 
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Chris Keeley

Darius Rejali on Torture--WashPost 12/16/07

Darius Rejali on Torture--WashPost 12/16/07

Darius Rejali is a professor of political science at Reed College and
the author of the recently published "Torture and Democracy."

*5 Myths About Torture and Truth*
Myths About Torture and Truth

By Darius Rejali
Sunday, December 16, 2007; B03

/So the CIA did indeed torture Abu Zubaida, the first al-Qaeda terrorist
suspect to have been waterboarded. So says John Kiriakou, the first
former CIA employee directly involved in the questioning of "high-value"
al-Qaeda detainees to speak out publicly. He minced no words last week
in calling the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" what they are./

/But did they work? Torture's defenders, including the wannabe tough
guys who write Fox's "24," insist that the rough stuff gets results. "It
was like flipping a switch," said Kiriakou about Abu Zubaida's response
to being waterboarded. But the al-Qaeda operative's confessions --
descriptions of fantastic plots from a man who intelligence analysts
were convinced was mentally ill -- probably didn't give the CIA any
actionable intelligence. Of course, we may never know the whole truth,
since the CIA destroyed the videotapes of Abu Zubaida's interrogation./
/But here are some other myths that are bound to come up as the debate
over torture rages on./

1 /Torture worked for the Gestapo./

Actually, no. Even Hitler's notorious secret police got most of their
information from public tips, informers and interagency cooperation.
That was still more than enough to let the Gestapo decimate anti-Nazi
resistance in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, France,
Russia and the concentration camps.

Yes, the Gestapo did torture people for intelligence, especially in
later years.
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