Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 10, 2009


Clive Stafford Smith, New Statesman, UK - World leaders should take their cue from Pakistan's self-appointed president, General Pervez Musharraf, and publish memoirs while still in office. It is good to know what is really going on. Last month he went to America, partly to meet with President Bush, and partly to hawk his book, In the Line of Fire, on TV talk shows.

The published extracts show that Musharraf has done some kissing and telling. He describes how the US threatened to bomb Pakistan immediately after the 11 September 2001 attacks if his government did not co-operate in the war on terror ("Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age!" exclaimed the then US deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage). He also spills the beans about shipping centrifuges to North Korea, and how his country's nuclear deterrent was not even operational when Pakistan threatened India in 1999.

One interesting nugget involves Pakistan's sale of hundreds of stray Arabs to the Americans, for shipment to Bagram air force base and on to Guantanamo Bay. Many of my clients in Cuba insist that, far from being captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, they were grabbed in Pakistan and flogged to the Americans, like slaves at auction. Predictably enough, for five years the Bush administration has remained very quiet on this issue, but Musharraf's book sheds new light.

"Many members of al-Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan," he writes. "We have played cat and mouse with them . . . We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of 'not doing enough' in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan."

As his revelations set people arguing, so more truths came out. Rather than condemning or denying the bounty program, the US department of justice complained about who had received the loot. "We didn't know about this," said a justice official. "It should not happen. These bounty payments are for private individuals who help to trace terrorists on the FBI's most wanted list, not foreign governments."

Musharraf backed down, agreeing that the money be given to individuals rather than the government. So, that makes it OK?

The payments help us see why so many innocent prisoners ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Musharraf writes that "millions" were paid for 369 prisoners - the minimum rate was apparently $5,000, enough to tempt a poor Pakistani to shop an unwanted Arab to the Americans, gift-wrapped with a story that he was up to no good in Afghanistan. . .

Musharraf admits to detaining more than 600 suspects; US sources suggest the true figure may be twice as high. Recent official data shows that only 5 per cent of prisoners at Guantanamo were captured by US forces. The rest were sold by Afghanistan and Pakistan. . .

Clive Stafford Smith is the legal director of Reprieve, a UK charity fighting for the lives of people facing the death penalty and other human-rights abuses. He represents 36 prisoners in Guantanamo.


Anonymous what's a little collateral damage among psychopaths? said...

Bush/Cheney knew they weren't paying for terrorists. They knew who blew up the fucking towers because they ordered it. What a fucking joke. Everyone who isn't brain dead knows the patsy Bin Laden died in Dec.'01 which makes all those corny fakeass tapes from NSA/CIA all the more laughable.

June 10, 2009 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an open secret in the military and in Washington who blew up the towers, reined in the Air Force, launched two wars plus eternal war and sank the Constitution and is beginning to shit his pants ' cause he ain't gettin' away with it.

June 11, 2009 11:04 PM  
Anonymous jagger/richards said...

I shouted out who killed the Kennedys when after all it was you and me.

June 11, 2009 11:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home