Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama: A New Face for the Same Place, our Bush/Cheney America.

From today's Democracy Now headlines:

UN: US Uncooperative on Human Rights Probes

The Obama administration continues to deny UN requests to investigate conditions at Guantanamo Bay and other US prisons overseas. The Washington Post reports at least two human rights investigators were recently turned down after asking to visit Guantanamo. A top UN torture official also requested a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but was denied. One researcher says though the Obama administration has banned CIA torture techniques, it’s avoiding a legal obligation under the 1984 Convention Against Torture to investigate unresolved allegations. Six months after the Bush administration left office, the UN officials say the investigations are particularly urgent since a statute of limitations on prosecuting alleged torturers expires as early as next year.

Judge: Case Against Gitmo Prisoner “an Outrage”

The Obama administration meanwhile is facing a Friday deadline on whether to continue jailing Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohamed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged Jawad’s indefinite imprisonment, saying he’s been abused, threatened, and deprived of sleep in US custody. The case has received further scrutiny because it’s believed Jawad was jailed when he was twelve years old. Federal District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has given the Justice Department until tomorrow to explain why Jawad should still be jailed. Huvelle called the government’s current case “an outrage” and “riddled with holes.”

Audit: US Embassy in Iraq Should Be Scaled Down

In Iraq, an internal State Department audit has found the US embassy is overstaffed and needs to be scaled down. The $700 million facility currently employs more than 1,800 staffers and over 13,000 contractors. The report came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met President Obama at the White House on Wednesday. Obama repeated previous claims that the US has no territorial designs in Iraq, saying the US isn’t seeking military bases or control of Iraqi resources.

US Toll Passes 5,000 in Iraq, Afghanistan

Meanwhile, the official US death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan has surpassed the 5,000 mark. The Pentagon has recorded at least 5,002 military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number doesn’t include the dozens of soldiers who have committed suicide in war-related incidents.

Clinton Warns Iran of US “Defense Umbrella” in Mideast

The Obama administration is intensifying rhetoric toward Iran. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US would consider a “defense umbrella” over the Middle East to protect Gulf allies if the Iranian government doesn’t meet international demands on its nuclear activities. Clinton said she hopes that Iran would realize that “If the US extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer.”

Top Banks Set Aside $74B for Bonuses

And new figures show some of the top beneficiaries of the Wall Street bailout are increasing their employee bonuses over a year ago. According to the Washington Post, the top six US banks have allotted $74 billion to pay their employees, up from $60 billion at the same point last year.


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