Daily Archives: October 8, 2007

Iraqi panel: Blackwater guards should face murder charges

CNN | Oct 8, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)  — An Iraqi government panel investigating last month’s deadly shooting involving Blackwater security contractors calls the guards’ actions “premeditated murder.”

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday that the investigative commission formed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused the American company’s contractors of indiscriminately firing on citizens and violating the rights of Iraqis.

The September 16 shooting in Baghdad’s Nusoor Square left 17 people dead and 27 others wounded, al-Dabbagh said. Seven vehicles were destroyed.

Al-Dabbagh said the commission, formed September 22, determined there was no proof the Blackwater convoy was under direct or indirect fire.

“Not even a stone was thrown at them,” al-Dabbagh said.

He added the contractors violated the rules of conduct and regulations for private security firms operating in Iraq.

“They must be held accountable according to the law,” al-Dabbagh said, emphasizing that those responsible should be prosecuted for “premeditated murder.”

He said Iraq’s government is awaiting the recommendations of this committee and the joint Iraqi-American panel in determining how to proceed legally. It is unclear whether the work of the Iraqi panel has been completed.

Security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation. Video Watch how supervision has been tightened on contractors »

The Iraqi-American joint committee met for the first time Sunday to begin reviewing security operations. It plans to issue a report offering recommendations to the Iraqi and U.S. governments.

Last month’s shooting has sparked fury in both countries and led to a series of new steps reviewing the role of U.S. contractors in Iraq.

The incident involved Blackwater security contractors guarding a State Department convoy. Blackwater is one of a number of private security contractors in Iraq.

Iraqi officials said Blackwater guards indiscriminately opened fire and killed civilians.

Blackwater said its contractors “acted lawfully and appropriately in response to a hostile attack,” and “the civilians reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were, in fact, armed enemies, and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire.”

Border crossings reopen

Five border crossings between Iran and Iraq’s Kurdish region have been reopened, an Iraqi Kurdish regional government spokesman said.

Iran closed its border with the Iraqi region nearly two weeks ago to protest the U.S. military’s incarceration of an Iranian arrested September 20 in Sulaimaniya.

The U.S. military maintains that Mahmoud Farhadi was posing as a businessman with a trade delegation and was in charge of Zafar Command, one of three units of the Ramazan Corps of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani blasted the United States for the arrest, saying Farhadi is an Iranian civil servant who was on an official trade mission in the region.

The U.S. military has long accused Quds Force agents of training and equipping Iraqi insurgents, an allegation Iran vehemently denies.

U.S. Army envisioned using dirty bombs and radioactive poisons for assassinations

A note of caution regarding the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko:

Covert global governance has been a reality for at least a century and probably much farther back in history. The world’s intelligence agencies and militaries have been operating as pawns in a game under the manipulation of more powerful globalist elite secret societies which fund them, instruct them, brief and debrief them and rein them in when necessary. In this globalist milieu, we find that intelligence agencies often contract their services out to each other to create “Plausible Denialability” smokescreens that the public can’t decipher or catch up with until decades after the fact.

Therefore, in this manipulated world, anything can happen. There are those who accuse oligarch Boris Berezovsky or British intelligence of poisoning Litvinenko to make Putin look bad. And there are those who say Putin sent FSB agents to silence Litvinenko because he was accusing the Kremlin of assassinating Anna Politkovskaya, and for writing a book accusing them of false-flag terror in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings. I happen to favor the latter theory which is the most plausible.

Putin stood to gain and the KGB Siloviki have always had a sloppy way of killing off their opponents and carrying out terrorist acts that makes it obvious to experienced observers. Berezovsky simply had no logical motive to kill Litvinenko, besides the fact that they were allies against Putin. The MI5 and MI6 are slightly more subtle in their methods and I doubt they would have done him in such an obvious way. They would have made him have an accident, arranged a “suicide” or poisoned him with a much more sophisticated toxin that would have been untraceable and possibly given him a heart attack.

I only mention this because there are those who will now jump on this latest “revelation” from the US Army to bolster their theory that the West poisoned Litvinenko to discredit Putin. Most likely they did not, but if you understand the global conspiratorial nature of the New World Order, it hardly matters which agency did it. What matters is that Litvinenko was a freedom fighter and a truth-seeker who may have done some dirty work for the FSB, learning of even dirtier secrets along the way, but who now wanted to expose the crimes of the Putin government. For that, he was killed and it matters not by which agency because they are all in it together.

Until the New World Order conspiracy is entirely exposed, the people of this world stop worshiping their dictators and are ready to take responsibility for their own lives, these and other crimes against humanity will continue unabated.

PW

. . .

Cold War secrets:

  • U.S. envisioned radiological weapon to covertly kill leaders
  • Weapons to contaminate “populated or otherwise critical areas for long periods of time.”
  • Munitions combining high explosives with radioactive material “to accomplish physical damage and radioactive contamination simultaneously.”

Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves is seen in an Aug. 3, 1948 file photo. Groves was chief of The Manhattan Project, and later supervised a now-defunct agency called the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project.

Associated Press | Oct 8, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) – In one of the longest-held secrets of the Cold War, the U.S. Army explored the potential for using radioactive poisons to assassinate “important individuals” such as military or civilian leaders, according to newly declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Approved at the highest levels of the Army in 1948, the effort was a well-hidden part of the military’s pursuit of a “new concept of warfare” using radioactive materials from atomic bombmaking to contaminate swaths of enemy land or to target military bases, factories or troop formations.

Military historians who have researched the broader radiological warfare program said in interviews that they had never before seen evidence that it included pursuit of an assassination weapon. Targeting public figures in such attacks is not unheard of; just last year an unknown assailant used a tiny amount of radioactive polonium-210 to kill Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London.

No targeted individuals are mentioned in references to the assassination weapon in the government documents declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the AP in 1995.

The decades-old records were released recently to the AP, heavily censored by the government to remove specifics about radiological warfare agents and other details. The censorship reflects concern that the potential for using radioactive poisons as a weapon is more than a historic footnote; it is believed to be sought by present-day terrorists bent on attacking U.S. targets.

The documents give no indication whether a radiological weapon for targeting high-ranking individuals was ever used or even developed by the United States. They leave unclear how far the Army project went. One memo from December 1948 outlined the project and another memo that month indicated it was under way. The main sections of several subsequent progress reports in 1949 were removed by censors before release to the AP.

The broader effort on offensive uses of radiological warfare apparently died by about 1954, at least in part because of the Defense Department’s conviction that nuclear weapons were a better bet.

Whether the work migrated to another agency such as the CIA is unclear. The project was given final approval in November 1948 and began the following month, just one year after the CIA’s creation in 1947.

It was a turbulent time on the international scene. In August 1949, the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb, and two months later Mao Zedong’s communists triumphed in China’s civil war.

As U.S. scientists developed the atomic bomb during World War II, it was recognized that radioactive agents used or created in the manufacturing process had lethal potential. The government’s first public report on the bomb project, published in 1945, noted that radioactive fission products from a uranium-fueled reactor could be extracted and used “like a particularly vicious form of poison gas.”

Among the documents released to the AP – an Army memo dated Dec. 16, 1948, and labeled secret – described a crash program to develop a variety of military uses for radioactive materials. Work on a “subversive weapon for attack of individuals or small groups” was listed as a secondary priority, to be confined to feasibility studies and experiments.

The top priorities listed were:

– 1: Weapons to contaminate “populated or otherwise critical areas for long periods of time.”

– 2: Munitions combining high explosives with radioactive material “to accomplish physical damage and radioactive contamination simultaneously.”

– 3: Air and-or surface weapons that would spread contamination across an area to be evacuated, thereby rendering it unusable by enemy forces.

The stated goal was to produce a prototype for the No. 1 and No. 2 priority weapons by Dec. 31, 1950.

The 4th ranked priority was “munitions for attack on individuals” using radioactive agents for which there is “no means of therapy.”

“This class of munitions is proposed for use by secret agents or subversive units for lethal attacks against small groups of important individuals, e.g., during meetings of civilian or military leaders,” it said.

Assassination of foreign figures by agents of the U.S. government was not explicitly outlawed until President Gerald R. Ford signed an executive order in 1976 in response to revelations that the CIA had plotted in the 1960s to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro, including by poisoning.

The Dec. 16, 1948, memo said a lethal attack against individuals using radiological material should be done in a way that makes it impossible to trace the U.S. government’s involvement, a concept known as “plausible deniability” that is central to U.S. covert actions.

“The source of the munition, the fact that an attack has been made, and the kind of attack should not be determinable, if possible,” it said. “The munition should be inconspicuous and readily transportable.”

Radioactive agents were thought to be ideal for this use, the document said, because of their high toxicity and the fact that the targeted individuals could not smell, taste or otherwise sense the attack.

“It should be possible, for example, to develop a very small munition which could function unnoticeably and which would set up an invisible, yet highly lethal concentration in a room, with the effects noticeable only well after the time of attack,” it said.

“The time for lethal effects could, it is believed, be controlled within limits by the amount of radioactive agent dispersed. The toxicities are such that should relatively high concentrations be required for early lethal effects, on a weight basis, even such concentrations may be found practicable.”

Tom Bielefeld, a Harvard physicist who has studied radiological weapons issues, said that while he had never heard of this project, its technical aims sounded feasible.

Bielefeld noted that polonium, the radioactive agent used to kill Litvinenko in November 2006, has just the kind of features that would be suitable for the lethal mission described in the Dec. 16 memo.

Barton Bernstein, a Stanford history professor who has done extensive research on the U.S. military’s radiological warfare efforts, said he did not believe this aspect had previously come to light.

“This is one of those items that surprises us but should not shock us, because in the Cold War all kinds of ways of killing people, in all kinds of manners – inhumane, barbaric and even worse – were periodically contemplated at high levels in the American government in what was seen as a just war against a hated and hateful enemy,” Bernstein said.

The project was run by the Army Chemical Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Alden H. Waitt, and supervised by a now-defunct agency called the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. The project’s first chief was Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the Army’s head of the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bombs. The radiological project was approved by Groves’ successor, Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Nichols.

The released documents were in files of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project held by the National Archives.

Among the officials copied in on the Dec. 16 memo were Herbert Scoville, Jr., then the technical director of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project and later the CIA’s deputy director for research, and Samuel T. Cohen, a physicist with RAND Corp. who had worked on the Manhattan Project.

The initial go-ahead for the Army to pursue its radiological weapons project was given in May 1948, a point in U.S. history, following the successful use of two atomic bombs against Japan to end World War II, when the military was eager to explore the implications of atomic science for the future of warfare.

In a July 1948 memo outlining the program’s intent, before specifics had received final approval, a key focus was on long-lasting contamination of large land areas where residents would be told that unless the areas were abandoned they probably would die from radiation within one to 10 years.

“It is thought that this is a new concept of warfare, with results that cannot be predicted,” it said.

Bohemian Grove Human Sacrifice Ritual To Appear On Cartoon Network

The Occult Rituals of the Global Elite Will Appear on the Cartoon Network this Sunday Night

The Grove as it appears in the cartoon (left) appears to be modeled after the real thing (right) as it appeared in the Alex Jones film, ‘Dark Secrets Inside Bohemian Grove.

Outlaw News | Oct 6, 2007

Lucy, Daughter of the Devil, is an ‘adult cartoon’, part of the Turner Broadcasting owned Cartoon Network’s late night line-up. It is a 10 minute CGI comedy show; the plot follows an eccentric and im-witted Satan, who is living in San Francisco, trying to convince his 21-year-old daughter, Lucy, to assume her role as the Antichrist. Along the course of their adventures, Lucy meets and begins to court ‘DJ Jesús’, a laid back techno DJ who turns out to be the second coming of Christ. The show is heavy with blasphemous shocks, but as it is sadly lacking it wit, it rates among the lower end shows featured in the ‘Adult Swim’ programming block; without the talents of H. Jon Benjamen, the brilliant voice actor who providing the voice of Satan, the show likely never would have made it past the pilot.

This Sunday an episode of the show entitled ‘Human Sacrifice’ will air, in which the Devil is summoned to attend a ritual human sacrifice at the Bohemian Grove in Northern California, held to honor a senator who has been chosen to be elected as the next president. DJ Jesús is chosen to serve as the sacrificial victim, and is lured to the Grove under the pretext that he will be DJing the ‘most amazing dance party/orgy/political summit on the planet’, which he is told is like the movie ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, except Alan Greenspan and Bono will be there.

The Grove, as it appears in the show, was clearly modeled after actual footage of the site which appeared in Alex Jones’ film ‘Dark Secrets Inside Bohemian Grove’, or from the memory of someone who has attended. The ritual begins with torches lighting up the night, and the crowd, which contains ‘half of Washington’, chanting ‘Hail Satan’. The Devil appears and declares that ‘ten presidents have announced their candidacy in front of this unholy alter’, before introducing a comedian to give a pre-sacrifice routine of poop jokes that the Devil had written for him in exchange for his soul. A bit of cartoon mayhem ensues with DJ Jesús escaping the sacrifice in order to provide the music for the crowd. The show finishes by zooming out of an aerial view of the grove, displaying its real-life location in Northern California.

I have no doubt that many people within the Truth Movement will attempt to claim that this show was intended to somehow ‘expose the elite’, just as they did when South Park made a brutal mockery of 9/11 Truth. I do not believe that this is the case. In recent years we have seen several examples of this type of public display of the occult nature of the ruling elite, all of which, save Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and a couple others, have been done through some form of comedy. It is my assertion that orders for this kind of exposure must in some way trickle down from the top, or it would not be allowed at all.

Their motivation in doing this is part of what Alice Bailey called the ‘externalization of the hierarchy’, a process through which those occult masters who have ruled the planet throughout history voluntarily expose themselves and their true nature. This is to be a slow process where we, the public, are gradually familiarized with the concept through the use of gradualism. Comedy shows are the most effective way of doing this, as they put us in such a mood that we are not thinking about what we see in a serious or rational way, and are thus much more susceptible to being familiarized with concepts that would normally evoke fear or revulsion if they were not presented in such a light-hearted manner.

Expect to see more and more of this type of thing in the future.

Churches lure teens with ultra-violent video game

 

Halo 3 can only be bought by over-17s and is rated ‘M’ for its mature content

Telegraph | Oct 8, 2007

By Catherine Elsworth

Churches across the United States are under fire for using the ultra-violent video game Halo 3 to attract younger members to their congregations.

Even some evangelical churches known for taking a hard line on violent entertainment have been hosting sessions where boys come to play Microsoft’s incredibly popular futuristic “space epic” in which an alien religious group is bent on destroying the Earth, and much of the galaxy.

The game, which came out two weeks ago and has already made more than 300 million dollars in sales, can only be bought by over-17s and is rated ‘M’ for its mature content. It features a vast array of weaponry which players use to annihilate opponents.

Pastors and church leaders defend their use of the game saying it is an effective way of connecting with boys and young men, who are notoriously hard to reach. Once they are in the church setting, ministers can offer them Christian messages after playing the game.

“We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” wrote Gregg Barbour, youth minister of Colorado Community Church near Denver, in a letter to parents.

But critics are worried about the message implicit in allowing boys as young as 12 to play a potentially corrupting adult video game.

“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,” James Tonkowich, president of the non-profit Institute on Religion and Democracy, told the New York Times. “My own take is you can do better than that.”

Daniel Heimbach, a professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, agreed. “To justify whatever killing is involved by saying that it’s just pixels involved is an illusion,” he told the paper.

Hundreds of churches, however, are using the game and finding it a highly effective tool. The Colorado-based Dare 2 Share Ministry recently sent e-mail messages to 50,000 young people about how to reflect on and discuss their faith using themes from the game.

John Robison, associate pastor of one 300-member church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, told the New York Times he managed to allay parents’ fears about the game. “We explain we’re using it as a tool to be relatable and relevant, and most people get over it pretty quick.”

Mobile phone cancer risk higher for children

 

New research says that children’s thinner skulls make them more vulnerable to tumours

Telegraph | Oct 8, 2007

By Harry Wallop

Children should not be given mobile phones because using them for more than 10 years increases the risk of brain cancer, a leading scientist has said.

People who have used their phone for a decade are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a tumour on a nerve connecting the ear to the brain, according to a group of scientists who have surveyed the results of 11 different studies.

Prof Kjell Mild, of Orbero University, Sweden, who is a Government adviser and led the research, said that children should not be allowed to use mobile phones because their thinner skulls and developing nervous system made them particularly vulnerable.

His study comes just a month after a separate piece of research, jointly funded by the Government and the mobile phone industry, found there was only a “very faint hint” of a link between long-term use of mobile phones and brain tumours.

This six-year, £8.8 million Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme came under fire for failing to investigate more thoroughly those who had used their phones for more than a decade.
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Most scientists have had difficulty researching this area as mobile phone usage did not become widespread until the late 1990s.

Professor Mild said the danger may be even greater than his study suggests because 10 years is the minimum period needed by cancers to develop.

“I find it quite strange to see so many official presentations saying that there is no risk. There are strong indications that something happens after 10 years,” he said.

He has called for more research, especially into a possible link between mobile phones and Alzheimer’s disease, since “we have indications that it might be a problem”, as well as a possible link with Parkinson’s.

The need for greater research has been echoed by Prof Lawrie Challis, who led the MTHR research.

He has confirmed that a second wave of studies – funded by the Government and the phone industry – would include a long-term look at the health of 200,000 mobile users in Britain, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The Swedish scientists’ initial findings were unveiled in April but are published in full in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Occupational Environmental Review.

They want a revision of the emission standard for mobiles and other sources of radiation, which they describe as “inappropriate” and “not safe”.

The international standard is designed merely to prevent harmful heating of living tissue or induced electrical currents in the body, and does not take into account the risk of getting cancer.

Vatican to clear Knights Templar of heresy

 

Templar grandmaster Jacques de Molay, was burnt at the stake in 1314 by French King Philip the Fair

Telegraph | Oct 10, 2007

By Malcolm Moore

The mysteries of the Order of the Knights Templar could soon be laid bare after the Vatican announced the release of a crucial document which has not been seen for almost 700 years.

A new book, Processus contra Templarios, will be published by the Vatican’s Secret Archive on Oct 25, and promises to restore the reputation of the Templars, whose leaders were burned as heretics when the order was dissolved in 1314.

The Knights Templar were a powerful and secretive group of warrior monks during the Middle Ages. Their secrecy has given birth to endless legends, including one that they guard the Holy Grail.

Recently, they have been featured in films including The Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The Order was founded by Hugues de Payns, a French knight, after the First Crusade of 1099 to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. Its headquarters was the captured Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, which lent the Templars their name.

But when Jerusalem fell to Muslim rule in 1244, rumours surfaced that the knights were heretics who worshipped idols in a secret initiation ceremony.

In 1307, King Philip IV “the Fair” of France, in desperate need of funds, ordered the arrest and torture of all Templars. After confessing various sins their leader, Jacques de Molay, was burnt at the stake.

Pope Clement V then dissolved the order and issued arrest warrants for all remaining members. Ever since, the Templars have been thought of as heretics.

The new book is based on a scrap of parchment discovered in the Vatican’s secret archives in 2001 by Professor Barbara Frale. The long-lost document is a record of the trial of the Templars before Pope Clement, and ends with a papal absolution from all heresies.

Prof Frale said: “I could not believe it when I found it. The paper was put in the wrong archive in the 17th century.”

The document, known as the Chinon parchment, reveals that the Templars had an initiation ceremony which involved “spitting on the cross”, “denying Jesus” and kissing the lower back, navel and mouth of the man proposing them.

The Templars explained to Pope Clement that the initiation mimicked the humiliation that knights could suffer if they fell into the hands of the Saracens, while the kissing ceremony was a sign of their total obedience.

The Pope concluded that the entrance ritual was not truly blasphemous, as alleged by King Philip when he had the knights arrested. However, he was forced to dissolve the Order to keep peace with France and prevent a schism in the church.

“This is proof that the Templars were not heretics,” said Prof Frale. “The Pope was obliged to ask pardon from the knights.

“For 700 years we have believed that the Templars died as cursed men, and this absolves them.”

Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led

The Nazis argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The Nazis used “Stress Positions” to torture prisoners at Dachau Concentration Camp

Sunday Times | Oct 7, 2007

by Andrew Sullivan

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented by the far left or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all, they train captives to lie about this stuff, don’t they? Bottom line: I trusted the president in a time of war to obey the rule of law that we were and are defending. And then I was forced to confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America’s treaty obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture, and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to Americans.

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were apparently more dangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom Americans fought and defeated without resorting to torture. The decision to enter what Dick Cheney called “the dark side” was made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no idea how to do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods US soldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets or Vietcong.

Classic torture techniques, such as waterboarding, hypothermia, beatings, excruciating stress positions, days and days of sleep deprivation, and threats to family members (even the children of terror suspects), were approved by Bush and inflicted on an unknown number of terror suspects by American officials, CIA agents and, in the chaos of Iraq, incompetents and sadists at Abu Ghraib. And when the horror came to light, they denied all of it and prosecuted a few grunts at the lowest level. The official reports were barred from investigating fully up the chain of command.

Legally, the White House knew from the start that it was on extremely shaky ground. And so officials told pliant in-house lawyers to concoct memos to make what was illegal legal. Their irritation with the rule of law, and their belief that the president had the constitutional authority to waive it, became a hallmark of their work.

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We were through the looking glass.

After Abu Ghraib, some progress was made in restraining these torture policies. The memo defining torture out of existence was rescinded. The Military Commissions Act was crafted to prevent the military itself from being forced to violate its own code of justice. But the administration clung to its torture policies, and tried every legal manoeuvre to keep it going and keep it secret. Much of this stemmed from the vice-president’s office.

Last week The New York Times revealed more. We now know that long after Abu Ghraib was exposed, the administration issued internal legal memos that asserted the legality of many of the techniques exposed there. The memos not only gave legal cover to waterboarding, hypothermia and beating but allowed them in combination to intensify the effect.

The argument was that stripping a chained detainee naked, pouring water over him while keeping room temperatures cold enough to induce repeated episodes of dangerous hypothermia, was not “cruel, inhuman or degrading”. We have a log of such a technique being used at Guantanamo. The victim had to be rushed to hospital, brought back from death, then submitted once again to “enhanced interrogation”.

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase “enhanced interrogation technique”. By relying on it, the White House spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that the administration strongly opposed torture and that “any procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful”.

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney’s arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform. They didn’t qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn’t be abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of torture as defined under US and international law: “The court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . .”

The definition of torture remains the infliction of “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” with the intent of procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides. The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is how far we’ve come. And this fateful, profound decision to change what America stands for was made in secret. The president kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own administration.

Ever since, the United States has been struggling to figure out what to do about this, if anything. So far Congress has been extremely passive, although last week’s leaks about the secret pro-torture memos after Abu Ghraib forced Arlen Specter, a Republican senator, to proclaim that the memos “are more than surprising. I think they are shocking”. Yet the public, by and large, remains indifferent; and all the Republican candidates, bar John McCain and Ron Paul, endorse continuing the use of torture.

One day America will come back– the America that defends human rights, the America that would never torture detainees, the America that leads the world in barring the inhuman and barbaric. But not until this president leaves office. And maybe not even then.