Daily Archives: November 15, 2009

Anti-terror expert: Pakistani Army ran terrorist training camps under CIA “acceptance”

Pakistani Army ran Muslim extremist training camps, says anti-terrorist expert

London Times | Nov 14, 2009

by Charles Bremner in Paris

CIA logoThe Pakistani Army ran training camps for a Muslim extremist group, at least until recently, with the acceptance of the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to France’s foremost anti-terrorist expert.

Jean-Louis Bruguière, who retired in 2007 after 15 years as chief investigating judge for counter-terrorism, reached this conclusion after interrogating a French militant who had been trained by Lashkar-e-Taiba and arrested in Australia in 2003.

In a book in his counter-terrorism years, Mr Bruguière says that Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was set up to fight India over disputed Kashmir territory, had become part of the international Islamic network of al-Qaeda.

Willy Brigitte, the suspect, told Mr Bruguière, that the Pakistani military were running the Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp where he spent 2½ months in 2001-02. Along with two Britons and two Americans, Brigitte was driven in a 4×4 through army roadblocks to the high-altitude camp where more than 2,000 men were being trained by Pakistani regular army officers, he said.

“The links between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Pakistani Army are more than close. Brigitte observed this twice,” Mr Bruguière said. “When the camp was resupplied, all the materiel was dropped off by Pakistani army helicopters. And there were regular inspections by the Pakistani Army and the CIA.”

The US agency carried out spot checks to ensure that Pakistan was sticking to an agreement not to train any foreigners at the militant organisation, the judge said. “After 9/11, the Americans put pressure on the Pakistani Government to put more effective controls on the activities of the Islamic organisations linked to al-Qaeda,” he said.

Mr Brigitte, originally from the French West Indies, and other foreign personnel were moved out to another camp when the CIA was due to visit, Mr Bruguière said.

The judge said that it was possible that the Americans had been turning a blind eye to the organisation’s training of foreign operatives.

It was not clear whether the Pakistani armed forces and ISI intelligence service were “playing the same game” as the Pakistani Government over Islamic terrorism, said the judge, whose book is titled Some Things that I Wasn’t Able to Say.

Defense lawyer: Fort Hood suspect may be paralyzed

Robert Gates shut up

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “Everybody ought to shut up.”

AP | Nov 13, 2009


FORT HOOD, Texas — The attorney for the Army psychiatrist accused of killing fellow soldiers at Fort Hood says doctors have told the soldier he may be paralyzed from the waist down.

Attorney John Galligan told The Associated Press on Friday that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan told him that he has no feeling in his legs and doctors say the condition may be permanent. Galligan says Hasan also told him he had extreme pain in his hands.

Hasan was shot by police officers responding to last week’s shootings at Fort Hood. Galligan spoke with him Thursday in the intensive care unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the attack at the sprawling Texas post that also left 29 people wounded.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was coherent during his first meeting with his defense lawyer in a hospital intensive care unit, the attorney said Friday.

Civilian lawyer John Galligan told the CBS “Early Show” that Hasan was alert but began to fade toward the end of their hour-long session Thursday.

Hasan was charged Thursday with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the attack at the sprawling Texas post that also left 29 people injured. The Army psychiatrist was shot several times and remains hospitalized. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Galligan said Hasan’s medical condition remains “extremely serious.” But he says Hasan was alert enough to know he was speaking with his lawyer.

“He understands who I am. We can talk …. But I was only there for an hour and towards the end of the one-hour session, I could tell I was kind of pushing him in terms of my ability to keep him fresh and alert in a discussion with me,” Galligan said.

President Barack Obama has ordered a review to determine if warning signs were mishandled of contact between Hasan and a radical Islamic cleric who encouraged Muslims to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Obama said he wanted all intelligence related to Hasan preserved and reviewed to determine whether it was properly shared and acted upon within the government. The first results are due Nov. 30. John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, will oversee the review.

Members of Congress also are pressing for a full investigation into why Hasan was not detected and stopped. A Senate hearing on Hasan is scheduled for next week.

A joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI learned late last year of Hasan’s repeated contact with the cleric. The FBI said the task force did not refer early information about Hasan to superiors because it concluded he wasn’t linked to terrorism.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and others have called for a full examination of what agencies knew about Hasan’s contacts with a radical imam and others of concern to the U.S., and what they did with the information. Hoekstra confirmed this week that the U.S. government knew of about 10 to 20 e-mails between Hasan and a radical imam, beginning in December 2008.

Staff overseeing Hasan’s training had reported that he was at times belligerent in his frequent discussions about his Muslim faith and was considered a lazy worker, according to a military official familiar but not authorized to speak publicly about several group discussions about Hasan.

Army officials have said they believe Hasan acted alone when he jumped on a table with two handguns last week, shouted “Allahu akbar” and opened fire inside a building at Fort Hood. The 13 people killed included a pregnant soldier and at least three other mental health professionals.

Hasan could face additional charges, said Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey. It had not been decided whether to charge Hasan with the death of the soldier’s unborn child, officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case publicly.

Hasan was charged in the hospital without his lawyers present, Galligan said.

“What I find disturbing is that my client is in ICU, and he’s 150 miles south of his defense counsel, and he’s being served with the charges,” he told The Associated Press. “Given his status as a patient, I’m troubled by this procedure and that I’m not there. I’m in the dark, and that shouldn’t be the case. I am mad.”

Months before the shootings, doctors and staff overseeing Hasan’s training reported viewing him at times as defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his faith, according to the military official familiar with several group discussions about Hasan. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the meetings and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hasan was characterized as a mediocre student and lazy worker, which concerned the doctors and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a military medical school in Bethesda, Md., the official said.

Even outside the military, Hasan’s behavior drew attention. Golam Akhter, a civil engineer from Bethesda, Md., said Thursday that he had spoken with Hasan about 10 times at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring before Hasan left for Texas last summer.

“He used to not believe that 9/11 was solely the work of Middle East people,” Akhter said. “His main thing was, ‘America is killing Muslims in the Middle East.’ That made him very, very upset.”

Akhter said he sensed that Hasan was “a troubled man” and feels guilty for not alerting others.

“I tried to convince him to try to be a moderate Muslim,” Akhter said.

Hasan repeatedly referred to his strong religious views in discussions with classmates at Walter Reed, his superiors and even in his research work, the military official said. His behavior, while at times perceived as intense and combative, was not unlike the zeal of others with strong religious views.

But some doctors and staff were concerned that their unfamiliarity with the Muslim faith would lead them to unfairly single out Hasan’s behavior, the official said.

Some questioned Hasan’s sympathies as an Army psychiatrist, whether he would be more aligned with Muslims fighting U.S. troops. There also was some concern about whether he should continue to serve in the military, the official said.

But they saw no signs of mental problems, no risk factors that would predict violent behavior. And the group discussed other factors that suggested Hasan would continue to thrive in the military, factors that mitigated their concerns, the official said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he was appalled at news leaks about the investigation into last week’s deadly shootings at Fort Hood.

“Frankly if I found out with high confidence anybody who’s leaking on the Department of Defense, who that was, that would probably be a career-ender,” he told reporters traveling with him to Oshkosh, Wis. “Everybody ought to shut up.”

Civilian deaths mount as South African police get greater “shoot to kill” powers

monstersandcritics.com | Nov 13, 2009

By Clare Byrne

Johannesburg – The increasingly gung-ho approach to crime-fighting of South Africa’s police is under fire after a toddler was shot dead by a policeman last week in the latest case of police bungling claiming innocent lives.

Atlegang Phalane, 3, was hit by a bullet last weekend while sitting in the back seat of his uncle’s parked car outside a relative’s house in Rabie Ridge, a low-income suburb on the northern edge of Johannesburg.

Two police officers searching for a suspect pulled up outside the house and opened fire on the parked car, killing him instantly.

The police Independent Complaints Directorate said one of the officers alleged he had seen a pipe that looked like a gun, but that no weapon or pipe had been found at the scene.

One policeman was arrested over the killing, which follows a number of police killings of civilians in recent weeks that the political opposition says is the consequence of a new, hardline tack by President Jacob Zuma and his security chiefs.

Last month, Olga Kekana, 29, was shot dead and two of her fellow passengers injured when police shot at the car in which they were travelling after mistaking it for a hijacked car.

In another incident under investigation, two policemen in Pretoria shot dead a street vendor after he allegedly insisted they pay for their food, while a young man in a Pretoria township died of a police bullet to the head after he ran away from police when they came to his shack to question him.

Deaths at the hands of police have been on the increase for a few years, since the police started coming under intense pressure to get a handle on crime before the 2010 football World Cup.

Around 50 people are murdered each day in the country and another 50 the victims of a murder attempt, making South Africa one of the world’s most violent societies.

Pitted against heavily-armed criminal gangs, police are understandably jittery, given the high risk of death or injury. From April 2008 to April 2009, a total of 109 police were killed on the job, according to police statistics.

Over the same period, 912 people were reported to have died in police custody or as a result of police action, 120 more cases than the previous year.

‘The suspects – when they attack us, they shoot to kill. We must protect ourselves,’ one detective, who has been on the job for 18 years in southern Johannesburg and who has lost nine colleagues in action, told the German Press Agency dpa.

The detective approves of the ‘shoot to kill’ doctrine espoused by the country’s new national police commissioner, Bheki Cele.

Cele, a Stetson-wearing former provincial security minister came into the job guns blazing in July, telling police not to die with their firearms in their holsters and to shoot first if their lives were under threat.

Zuma has also encouraged police to use lethal force, on the basis that ‘criminals don’t take an oath to do warning shots.’

In the wake of the recent spate of civilian killings, Zuma’s spokesman has since stressed that the president’s remarks ‘did not translate to a licence for policemen to just go out and shoot people.’

Cele has also warned police against being ‘trigger-happy’ but deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday brushed off civilian deaths as ‘unavoidable.’

‘When you are caught up combat with criminals, innocent people are going to die, not deliberately but in the exchange of fire,’ he said, repeating his demand of police: ‘Shoot the bastards.’

The controversy comes as the government prepares to amend the law to give police more license to shoot – including at fleeing suspects.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance has warned such a move would return South Africa to apartheid-style policing of ‘shooting unarmed citizens in the back.’

‘One almost wants to ask the question: What will come first?’ Johan Burger, a retired former senior police and senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies questioned. ‘Will crime get out of control first, or will the police get out of control first?’

Fort Hood’s military victims blocked from getting damages

Tribune-Review | Nov 15, 2009

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Legal experts say families of active-duty military members who were killed during the recent Fort Hood shootings or the military members themselves who were wounded probably will be unable to win court judgments for damages even if they can prove the Army was negligent in not acting to remove the alleged shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

Andrew Adair, a Washington attorney, and others say a 1950 Supreme Court ruling would stand in the way of such damage claims.

The restriction would not apply to the lone civilian, Mike Cahill, 62, who was killed in last week’s attack. Nor would it apply to injured civilians, including police officer Kimberly Munley, who was involved in a shootout with Hasan.

In the 1950 ruling, known as the Feres Doctrine after one of the plaintiffs that brought the case, the high court said active-duty members of the military cannot sue for damages if the death or injury is “incident to military service.”

“Even if the higher-ups in the military have knowledge that someone is a loose cannon and take no action, there is no recourse. That’s where the law is,” Adair said

Hasan was formally charged Thursday with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the attack, which left 29 people wounded. Congressional investigators have begun to question whether Army officials failed to respond to indications that Hasan might be a danger to others. President Obama on Saturday urged Congress to hold off on an investigation of the Fort Hood rampage until federal law enforcement and military authorities have completed their probes into the shootings.

Obama made his comments during an eight-day Asia trip and pleaded for lawmakers to “resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater.” He said those who died on the nation’s largest Army post deserve justice, not political stagecraft.

“The stakes are far too high,” Obama said in a video and Internet address released by the White House while the president was flying from Tokyo to Singapore, where Pacific Rim countries were meeting.

Obama has ordered a review of how officials handled warning signs that might have pointed to the killing spree. Among the warning signs were e-mail contacts with radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was linked in the 9/11 Commission’s report to at least two of the 2001 hijackers.

Dean Swartz, another Washington attorney and former military lawyer, who has experience on both sides of military torts cases, said that even with evidence that Hasan’s superiors were aware of a potential for violence, survivors of the shooting would face a virtually insurmountable hurdle in overcoming the Feres Doctrine.

Swartz said that as a government attorney, he was obligated to oppose such claims, and “it made me sick to do it.”

Justice Department lawyers are defending the Feres Doctrine in several pending lawsuits, arguing that the doctrine is necessary to maintain military discipline and that active-duty members of the military are entitled to death benefits.

Pentagon spokesman Wayne V. Hall confirmed those killed at Fort Hood will be entitled to the benefits provided to all members of the military, including a $100,000 death benefit. Exact individual amounts, including life insurance benefits, will depend on determinations yet to be made by the military and what level of benefits were chosen by the killed or wounded soldiers, Hall said.

With respect to the Fort Hood shootings, Hall said he could not comment since there has been no attempt at litigation.

Barbara Cragnotti, spokeswoman for an advocacy group that has been seeking to have the Feres Doctrine overturned by Congress, said it appeared to her that the ban on legal claims would apply to all of those shot who were on active duty.

“I believe that Feres will bar all suits on the Fort Hood shooting,” she said, referring to active duty members of the military.

Cragnotti’s group, called Veterans Equal Rights Advocacy, has been backing a bill recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee that would lift the ban on lawsuits, but only in cases involving medical malpractice, such as botched surgery in a military hospital.

That bill, which is awaiting House floor action, would not apply to the Fort Hood incident because it involves only medical malpractice cases.

Cragnotti’s group contends the limits imposed by the Feres ruling are unfair and deprive members of the military rights that are provided to all other citizens.

Obama to Congress: Hold off Fort Hood hearings

He urges lawmakers to let Army finish its investigation first

San Antonio Express | Nov 14, 2009


obama devil handWASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called Saturday for a comprehensive review of the events leading to the tragedy at Fort Hood to “prevent a similar breach from happening again,” and he urged Congress to delay hearings until an investigation is complete.

“If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability,” Obama said during his weekly radio address.

Obama paid tribute at a Fort Hood ceremony last week for the soldiers and civilians killed Nov. 5 when a gunman opened fire on the base, killing 13 people. Dozens were wounded.

Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. Hasan suffered wounds and is being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

“It’s unthinkable that so many would die in a hail of gunfire on a U.S. Army base in the heart of Texas, and that a fellow service-member could have pulled the trigger,” Obama said.

Obama’s call for a thorough investigation comes as Congress prepares to launch hearings into the tragedy. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, will preside over the first hearing next week.

The House Armed Services Committee also has announced it will holding hearings, but Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, a ranking Democrat on the panel, said the review would come later.

An Austin lawmaker, Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, is asking the House Homeland Security Committee to hold hearings to investigate any possible ties that Hasan may have had with terrorist groups.

Chinese dissidents rounded up ahead of Obama visit

beijing soldier guard

Obama arrives in Shanghai on Sunday and moves onto Beijing the next day for a four-day maiden presidential trip

AFP | Nov 14, 2009

BEIJING — China has detained several dissidents and campaigners ahead of US President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated first visit to the country, their relatives and close contacts told AFP Saturday.

Obama arrives in Shanghai on Sunday and moves onto Beijing the next day for a four-day maiden presidential trip during which he has been urged to raise human rights with the Asian giant’s top leadership.

But as the visit drew close, the head of an activist group for parents whose children were sickened by tainted milk in China had been detained, his wife told AFP.

“Zhao Lianhai was criminally detained for ‘provoking an incident’,” Li Xuemei said in a text, without giving further details.

According to activist group Human Rights in China, Zhao was handcuffed and taken away late Friday night by police officers who searched his house and took away computers, a video recorder, a camera and an address book.

When Zhao refused to go with them, as the summons did not state a cause, the police officers filled in “provoking an incident” in the summons, the group said. Police in Beijing would not comment on the case.

Zhao has campaigned relentlessly for parents whose children suffered from drinking milk tainted with the melamine chemical, which killed six children and sickened nearly 300,000 others in a scandal that erupted in September 2008.

Qi Zhiyong, a dissident who lost a leg during the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests, said he had also been detained for trying to organise a human rights seminar on November 9 in a Beijing park.

In a text sent to AFP, Qi said he and fellow organisers had planned for the seminar to last until the end of Obama’s visit.

He had also applied to police to protest the US President’s visit, “to press him to pay attention to human rights in China, people’s livelihoods and the relatives of jailed people, as he comes only to talk about climate change.”

Qi said he was being held in the Beijing suburbs and had been charged with unlawful assembly and disturbing the social order.

He added that Li Jinping, who every year tries to organise commemorations of deposed former leader Zhao Ziyang, who opposed the use of force to quell the 1989 protests, had also been detained.

Yang Qiuyu, a housing rights activist, and more than 30 other petitioners had also been taken away, Qi said.

Profligate spender Obama goes to pay respects to his Beijing bankers


Liu Mingjie (C) and a customer discuss Liu’s bag and t-shirt ‘Oba Mao’designs in which he superimposed the face of US President Barack Obama over that of China’s late revolutionary leader Mao Zedong for sale at his shop in the tourist Houhai district of Beijing on September 23, 2009. The entrepreneur who goes by the English name Stefan is a former engineer who worked for Germany’s Siemens AG and US-based Cisco Systems before starting his business three years ago, according to state media, introduced the Oba Mao design bags and t-shirts, including coin purses, earlier this summer and says the shirts have been selling well. Getty Images

China’s Role as U.S. Lender Alters Dynamics for Obama

NY Times | Nov 15, 2009

by Helene Cooper, Michael Wines and David E. Sanger.

When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay his respects to his banker.

That stark fact — China is the largest foreign lender to the United States — has changed the core of the relationship between the United States and the only country with a reasonable chance of challenging its status as the world’s sole superpower.

The result: unlike his immediate predecessors, who publicly pushed and prodded China to follow the Western model and become more open politically and economically, Mr. Obama will be spending less time exhorting Beijing and more time reassuring it.

In a July meeting, Chinese officials asked their American counterparts detailed questions about the health care legislation making its way through Congress. The president’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, answered most of their questions. But the Chinese were not particularly interested in the public option or universal care for all Americans.

“They wanted to know, in painstaking detail, how the health care plan would affect the deficit,” one participant in the conversation recalled. Chinese officials expect that they will help finance whatever Congress and the White House settle on, mostly through buying Treasury debt, and like any banker, they wanted evidence that the United States had a plan to pay them back.

It is a long way from the days when President George W. Bush hectored China about currency manipulation, or when President Bill Clinton exhorted the Chinese to improve human rights.

Mr. Obama has struck a mollifying note with China. He pointedly singled out the emerging dynamic at play between the United States and China during a wide-ranging speech in Tokyo on Saturday that was meant to outline a new American relationship with Asia.

“The United States does not seek to contain China,” Mr. Obama said. “On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.”

He alluded to human rights but did not get specific. “We will not agree on every issue,” he said, “and the United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear — and that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people.”

White House officials have been working for months to make sure that Mr. Obama’s three-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing conveys a conciliatory image. For instance, in June, the White House told the Dalai Lama that while Mr. Obama would meet him at some point, he would not do so in October, when the Tibetan spiritual leader visited Washington, because it was too close to Mr. Obama’s visit to China.

Greeting the Dalai Lama, whom China condemns as a separatist, weeks before Mr. Obama’s first presidential trip to the country could alienate Beijing, administration officials said. Every president since George H. W. Bush in 1991 has met the Dalai Lama when he visited Washington, usually in private encounters at the White House, although in 2007 George W. Bush became the first president to welcome him publicly, bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on him at the Capitol. Mr. Obama met the Dalai Lama as a senator.

Similarly, while he was campaigning for the presidency, Mr. Obama several times accused China of manipulating its currency, an allegation that the current Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, repeated during his confirmation hearings. But in April, the Treasury Department retreated from that criticism, issuing a report that said China was not manipulating its currency to increase its exports.

While American officials said privately that they remained frustrated that China’s currency policies lowered the cost of Chinese goods and made American products more expensive in foreign markets, they said that they were relieved that China was fighting the global recession with an enormous fiscal stimulus program to spur domestic growth, and added that now was not the time to antagonize Beijing.

China is not viewed as a trouble spot for the United States. But this administration, like its predecessor, has had difficulty grappling with a rising power that seems eager to avoid direct clashes with the United States but affects its interests in many areas, including currency policy, nuclear proliferation, climate change and military spending.

In that regard, two members of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team said that the United States’ interactions with the Chinese had been far too narrow in past years, focusing on counterterrorism and North Korea. Too little was done, they said, to address China’s energy and environmental policies, or its expansion of influence in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa, where China has invested heavily and used billions of dollars in aid to advance its political influence.

One hint of the Obama administration’s new approach came in a speech this fall by James B. Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, who has deep roots in China policy. He argued that China needed to adopt a policy of “strategic reassurance” to the rest of the world, a phrase that appeared intended to be the successor to the framework of the Bush era, when China was urged to embrace a role as a “responsible stakeholder.”

“Strategic reassurance rests on a core, if tacit, bargain,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Just as we and our allies must make clear that we are prepared to welcome China’s ‘arrival,’ ” he argued, the Chinese “must reassure the rest of the world that its development and growing global role will not come at the expense of security and well-being of others.”

The Chinese reaction has been mixed, at best. The official China Daily newspaper ran a column just before Mr. Obama’s arrival suggesting that the United States needed to provide some assurance of its own — to “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” code words for entirely backing away from the issues of how China deals with Taiwan and Tibet.

In the United States, the phrase “strategic reassurance” has been attacked by conservative commentators, who argue that any reassurance that the United States provides to China would be an acknowledgment of a decline in American power.

In an op-ed article in The Washington Post, the analysts Robert Kagan and Dan Blumenthal argued that the policy had echoes of Europe “ceding the Western Hemisphere to American hegemony” a century ago. “Lingering behind this concept is an assumption of America’s inevitable decline,” they wrote. White House officials shot back, insisting that it is China that needs to do the reassurance, not the United States.

In China, Mr. Obama will meet with local political leaders and will host an American-style town hall meeting with students in Shanghai. He will then spend two days in Beijing meeting with President Hu Jintao.

It seems unlikely that Mr. Obama will get the same celebrity-type reception in Beijing that he received in Cairo, Ghana, Paris and London. China seems mostly immune to the Obama fever that swept other parts of the world, and the Chinese are growing more confident that their country has the wherewithal to compete with the United States on the world stage, analysts say.

“Obama is still a positive guy, and all over the world most people think he’s more energetic, more sincere, than Bush, more a reformist,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor and an expert on United States-China relations at People’s University in Beijing. “But in China, Obama’s popularity is less than in Europe, than Japan or Southeast Asia.” In China, he said, “there is no worship of Obama.”

For instance, during the Bush and Clinton years, China might release a few political dissidents on the eve of a visit by the president as a good-will gesture. This time, American officials say, they do not expect any similar gestures, although they say that Mr. Obama will raise human rights issues privately with Mr. Hu.

“This time China will agree to have a human rights dialogue with the U.S. on some cases,” Mr. Shi said, but “the arguments have changed compared to the past. Now we say, ‘We are a different country, we have our own system, our own culture.’ ”