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Judge throws out Libyan rendered by UK spooks & CIA to Gaddafi for torture, because "it might embarrass America"

Abdel Hakim Belhaj was a Libyan dissident who was kidnapped by the CIA and GHCQ and rendered to Gaddafi's Libya, along with his pregnant wife. He was brutally, savagely tortured and imprisoned for seven years. He's been trying to get justice in a British court since his release. Today, the court told him he would find no justice, because any trial on his rendition would embarrass the CIA, and that would damage the UK's national interest. Oh well, at least the judge was "horrified" as he pronounced his verdict.

Remembering Sean "Vilerat" Smith, killed in Benghazi

Zack Parsons, author and Something Awful moderator, writes,

Sean Smith was one of the four men tragically killed in the consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11^th . He was a foreign services officer for the State Department. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. I knew him as “Vilerat” on the SA forums. He has been a moderator there since 2008 and he has posted there since 2002. He was also well-known in the EVE online gaming community.

I am trying to honor him and all of his contributions to our community and to the world by giving his family a helping hand with their expenses. I have started a fundraiser with the assistance of his friend on EVE and the SA forums, and the input of his wife, Heather, and I am trying to get the word out about it.

Farewell to Vilerat (Thanks, Zack!)

Report: Mysterious gentleman behind Anti-Muhammad movie an ex-meth cook

"Innocence of Muslims," the spectacularly crappy anti-Muslim movie trailer linked to recent violence in Libya, and the death of a US ambassador and others? The guy credited as its filmmaker, "Sam Bacile," has been outed as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Noah Shachtman at Wired News reports that "Bacile" was one of many pseudonyms used by Nakoula. Others include Matthew Nekola; Ahmed Hamdy; Amal Nada; Daniel K. Caresman; Kritbag Difrat; Sobhi Bushra; Robert Bacily; Nicola Bacily; Thomas J. Tanas; Erwin Salameh; Mark Basseley Youssef; Yousseff M. Basseley; Malid Ahlawi; and my favorite, P.J. Tobacco.

He first told news outlets he was an Israeli Jew; law enforcement authorities have since identified him as a Coptic Christian immigrant with a shady past. He reportedly has a criminal record including at least one narcotics conviction: an LA County District Attorney’s office source says he was arrested by the L.A. Country Sheriff's Department in 1997 and charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

Read the rest

Libya: Inside Gadhafi's secret surveillance network

An excellent long read in the new Wired magazine: Jamming Tripoli: Inside Moammar Gadhafi's Secret Surveillance Network. Matthieu Aikins examines how activists suffered "greatly at the hands of Gadhafi’s spy service, whose own capabilities had been heightened by 21st-century technology."

By now, it’s well known that the Arab Spring showed the promise of the Internet as a crucible for democratic activism. But, in the shadows, a second narrative unfolded, one that demonstrated the Internet’s equal potential for government surveillance and repression on a scale unimaginable with the old analog techniques of phone taps and informants. Today, with Gadhafi dead and a provisional government of former rebels in charge, we can begin to uncover the secret, high tech spying machine that helped the dictator and his regime cling to power.

Tony Blair channels Ronald Reagan, "doesn't remember" sending dissidents to Libya for torture

When the Qaddafi regime fell in Libya, the headquarters of the secret police were occupied by the rebel forces, who retrieved a large quantity of memos and documents detailing the cooperation between western governments and the Qaddafi regime, including the sale and maintenance of network surveillance equipment, and, notoriously, the use of Qaddafi's torturers on suspected terrorists who were secretly rendered to Libya by western intelligence agencies.

One set of documents show that the UK intelligence service worked to kidnap and render Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, for a horrific round of torture that was directly overseen by UK intelligence agents, with the knowledge of the CIA.

Now Tony Blair, who was prime minister of Britain at the time of the illegal kidnapping and torture, denies having any recollection of the programme, and insists that Libya was a fine partner in the war on terror.

A UK parliamentary committee is attempting to investigate the matter, and filed a freedom of information request with the US government for documents on UK participation in illegal rendition programmes. The CIA objected to the request, and a US judge denied it on the grounds that it had been made by a "foreign government entity" (the UK's all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition). Deputy committee chair Tony Lloyd called the ruling "odd" and "an abuse of the spirit of freedom of information." He noted that the judge had not rejected the proposal on the grounds of national security, but because "a parliamentary body that was part of the British state was 'not acceptable.'" Richard Norton-Taylor has more in the Guardian.

The CIA's approach echoes that adopted by MI6 and MI5, which have fought to prevent the disclosure in British courts of evidence relating to the US practice of extraordinary rendition.

The parliamentary group, meanwhile, is fighting a refusal by the British government to disclose papers that, it says, would reveal UK complicity in the secret flights and subsequent abuse of individual suspects. The information tribunal in London is expected to give a ruling on the request soon.

Tony Blair has 'no recollection' of Libyan dissident's rendition

(Image: Tony Blair interviewed by Fortune, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from thenickster's photostream)

UK gov't: yes, we kidnapped people and sent them to be tortured by Qaddafi, but you can't sue us

After the fall of the Qaddafi regime, secret police documents were discovered linking the UK spy agency MI6 with the kidnap of two leading Libyan dissidents and their families, in order to deliver them to Qaddafi's torturers. The UK government has admitted that its spies are guilty of this crime, but point to a law that says that British spies can't be held liable for their crimes, provided that the secretary of state signs off on them, and the secretary did.

The "acts" can take place only overseas and remain illegal both under the laws of the country where they are committed and possibly under international law. But, section 7 says, with the stroke of a pen a secretary of state can rule that no UK law can be brought to bear.

The act had been drafted as a consequence of a series of European court judgments in the 1980s that forced Britain's ultra-secretive intelligence agencies to emerge into the daylight of the public domain.

How secret renditions shed light on MI6's licence to kill and torture (via Warren Ellis)

Qadaffi's corpse on display in market freezer used for vegetables, onions

One wonders if a trial for crimes against humanity might have been a little more dignified—not because the deceased deserved it, but because the living deserved something better than perpetuation of the cycle of gore, brutality, and dehumanization. From Arab News:

In Misrata, residents crowded into long lines to get a chance to view the body of Qaddafi, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out vegetable and onions freezer at a local shopping center. The body had apparently been stowed in the freezer in an attempt to keep it out of the public eye, but once the location was known, that intention was swept away in the overwhelming desire of residents to see the man they so deeply despised. Men, women and children filed in to take their picture with the body. The site’s guards had even organized separate visiting hours for families and single men.

“We want to see the dog,” some chanted.

Qaddafi’s 69-year-old body was stripped to the waist, his torso and arms streaked with dried blood. Bullet wounds in the chest, abdomen and left side of the head were visible.

(via @nytjim)

The Day Gaddafi Died: Photos (warning, graphic content)

An anti-Gaddafi fighter shows the media what they say was the golden pistol of Muammar Gaddafi, near Sirte October 20, 2011. Gaddafi was killed on Thursday as Libya's new leaders declared they had overrun the last bastion of his long rule, sparking wild celebrations that eight months of war may finally be over. Details of the death near Sirte of the fallen strongman were hazy but it was announced by several officials of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and backed up by a photograph of a bloodied face ringed by familiar, Gaddafi-style curly hair. (REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

Read the rest

Muammar Gaddafi killed

[Video Link]

Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed today when rebel fighters battling what was left of his regime took over his hometown of Surt.

Since no-one has created a "Hitler Finds Out Gaddafi is Dead" video yet, I dug up the strangest thing I could find: this raw footage of the despot relaxing at home at peace with his family; a simple experience his military prevented many thousands of innocent citizens from having.

The colonel and a few of his men are said to have run through a stand of trees and hid in two drainage pipes before they were killed. There are questions about the exact circumstances of his death—Al Jazeera has broadcast footage indicating he was alive when captured.

NYT, Reuters, Washington Post, Al Jazeera.

UPDATE: Hitler finds out Gaddafi has been killed.

Tripoli beach trip, Sept. 6, 2011

Mannequin parts, seen at the beach in Tripoli, Libya, on September 6, 2011. Photo: Anis Mili/Reuters.

Gaddafi's high-tech computer spying facility revealed

I know it doesn't look like much, but see that "1.44" off to the right? That means they are high density floppies.

First Look Inside Security Unit [WSJ. Photos: Edu Bayer]

Rebels reach Tripoli; Gadaffi reportedly flees

Amid reports that Gadaffi and his family have already fled, Libya's rebels reached Tripoli today and took control of a military airport there. Neighboring Tunisia recognized the rebellion as Libya's government hours ago. [Reuters]

Libya: welcome, Maya Mohamed Nabbous (newborn daughter of slain internet journalist)

An update to the tragic story of Mohammed "Mo" Al Nabbous, founder of the Benghazi webcast "Libya Alhurra TV," killed in a firefight this March at age 28: his baby daughter was born this week. Mo's widow writes,

This is dedicated to the Loving Father who never got to see his First and Only baby. He would have been the proudest Dad on the world. After the baby was born and the first time I held her in my arms, she had the biggest smile on her face. I was amazed and so sure that her daddy was with us at that moment. He will remain with us and in our hearts forever.
[Video Link]

(via Blake Hounshell)

Gadaffi moves on Benghazi: appeal to stop "exterminating civilians"

Al Jazeera reports that rebels in Free Benghazi are coming heavy fire from Gadaffi's military and its mercenaries: "The international community is late in intervening to save civilians from Gaddafi's forces. Today in Benghazi there will be a catastrophe if the international community does not implement the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. We appeal to the international community, to the all the free world, to stop this tyranny from exterminating civilians."

Where are the UN resolutions to protect civilians in Bahrain?

Slate's Tom Scocca reminds us that the west's willingness to rescue pro-democracy protesters from brutal, murderous middle-eastern despots is highly selective. If you're rebelling against a dictator who's been a thorn in America's side, you get airstrikes and UN resolutions; if you're rebelling against tyrants who are forthcoming with their oil or ports, you're lucky if the Secretary of State will bestir herself for a round of finger-wagging as your comrades are coldly murdered in the streets.
The helpful thing, if you're overwhelmed by so much news going on at once, is that Bahrain is roughly the same story as Libya--only instead of pro-democracy protesters being murdered by a terrorist-sponsoring monster of a dictator who has been on America's enemies list for ages, the pro-democracy protesters are being murdered by a government that is America's very own dear ally. And where Qaddafi brought in foreign mercenaries for support, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain brought in troops from our even more vital ally, Saudi Arabia...

So basically, take all those proud feelings about the United States standing up for freedom and human rights in Libya and turn them inside out, and vomit into them. That's Bahrain.

Would a No-Fly Zone Over America Save the Democracy Movement in Bahrain? (via Making Light)

UN approves military intervention to protect Free Benghazi

The UN Security Council has approved air strikes against Gadaffi loyalist forces and the Gadaffi mercenary army as they advance on "Free Benghazi," the Libyan rebel stronghold. In response, Gadaffi told a Portuguese TV station, "This is craziness, madness, arrogance. If the world gets crazy with us we will get crazy too. We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace." The no-fly zone and intervention will be enforced with support from Arab League members who earlier passed a resolution calling on the UN to take action (the Arab League has always had a fraught relationship with Gadaffi, whose presence at League meetings has been marked by the aforementioned "crazy").
7.05pm ET: There's some very impressive singing in central Benghazi, accompanied by celebratory gunfire, right now, based on al-Jazeera's footage.

An al-Jazeera English reporter, Tony Birtley, later says: "I haven't been hugged by so many people since my daughter's birthday party."

7.11pm ET: US enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya could begin by Sunday or Monday, according to anonymous US officials quoted by AP, and would involve "jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft".

7.16pm ET: Italy announces it is opening its air force and naval bases in Sicily for operations against Libya - the obvious spot to base US and British jets.

The Berlusconi government may have had relatively warm relations with Libya, but Italy's Nato obligations gave it little choice but to allow other members to use its bases.

Libya resolution: UN security council air strikes vote - as it happened

Inside Saif Gadaffi's squatted London mansion, reclaimed by Libyan exiles


The New Statesman's Laurie Penny has gotten into Saif Gadaffi's multi-million-pound mansion in London's tony Mayfair Hampstead, which has been squatted by Libyan exiles. She reports on life inside the reclaimed house:
We drink stewed tea from Saif's best china and eat cheese sandwiches using his silver cutlery, while the young man, Abdulla, tells me about how his uncle was "disappeared" by Saif's father. "In Libya, people disappear all the time. There was a prison massacre where 1,200 people died. They poured cement over the bodies." Abdulla nervously adjusts his glasses. "It's important that people know we're not creating a civil war for no reason.

Nearly every room of this enormous house boasts a large, flat-screen television. The occupiers have tuned each one to al-Jazeera, for rolling coverage of the people's revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world. Televised gunfire echoes in the marble hallway as Jay, 25, explains how activists from the London squatting movement took over the Gaddafi family mansion, moving in secretly and putting up notices declaring their intention to hold the empty house under English common law. "We wanted to show our solidarity the best way we know how," he says.

"It's a symbolic and practical reclamation of private property that belongs to the Libyan people. It's about their struggle, which is why the place has been handed over to the Libyans as a place to organise and a safe space for refugees," he says. "People have been arriving in support from all over the UK..."

"Last night, at about four in the morning, someone came to the door," says Jay. According to Abdulla, "It was a well-dressed Arab person, [wearing] nice clothes and gold. When I asked him what he was doing here so late, he said, 'I want to make you an offer.' He told us: 'I have £40,000 in cash. You can have it if you leave immediately.' No amount of money could make us leave this house. It's not a financial issue."

Inside the Saif house (Thanks, Laurie!)

BBC newsteam kidnapped, hooded and beaten by Gadaffi's forces

A team of BBC journalists in Libya were kidnapped by security forces loyal to the Gadaffis. They were hooded, imprisoned, beaten, and subject to repeated mock-executions. While imprisoned, they witnessed horrific torture of rebels who'd been captured by Gadaffi's forces.
One of the three, Chris Cobb-Smith, said: "We were lined up against the wall. I was the last in line - facing the wall.

"I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun. He put it to everyone's neck. I saw him and he screamed at me.

"Then he walked up to me, put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger twice. The bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed."

A second member of the team - Feras Killani, a correspondent of Palestinian descent - is said to have been singled out for repeated beatings.

Their captors told him they did not like his reporting of the Libyan popular uprising and accused him of being a spy.

The third member of the team, cameraman Goktay Koraltan, said they were all convinced they were going to die.

Gaddafi forces beat up BBC team

Activists seize Saif Gadaffi's London mansion

A group of activist squatters have occupied Saif "War Criminal/Plagiarist/Zillionaire" Gadaffi's swanky £10M mansion in London's Mayfair.
A spokesman for the group said "We didn't trust the British government to properly seize the Gaddafi regime's corrupt assets, so we took matters into our own hands."

"The British government only recently stopped actively helping to train the Libyan regime in "crowd control" techniques, through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and a midlands based arms manufacturer, NMS Systems. As well as training the regime in repression, British corporations are also guilty of providing the same weapons that are now being used by Gaddaffi against the Libyan people."

The mansion is managed by Gaddaffi through a holding company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The spokesman for occupiers said "Gaddafi, Mubarak, the House of Saud and numerous other tyrants use front companies in British protectorates to avoid paying tax and above all to protect their anonymity. Britain actively assists tyrants, corporations and the super rich to rob their people blind. Our aim is to make sure that the assets stolen by Gaddafi are returned to the Libyan people and don't disappear into the pockets of governments or corporations. In the meantime we want to welcome refugees from the conflict in Libya and those fleeing tyranny and oppression across the world."

Saif Gaddafi's london mansion occupied (Thanks, Tim!)

(Image: Nusibab)

Interrogating a mercenary

interrogatedlibya.jpg Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf. Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters.

Libya Calling

An Egyptian man who fled the unrest in Libya talks on a phone provided by Telecom sans Frontiere (TSF) at a refugee camp near the Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir March 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Saif Gadaffi promises guns and reinforcements to murderous militias

In this video, Saif Gadaffi (the "liberal" Gadaffi scion to whom the London School of Economics awarded a PhD for a plagiarized thesis on soft power and democracy) is seen promising weapons and reinforcements to the militia forces who have been brutally slaughtering peaceful protesters in Libya.

Saif Gaddafi Exposed [ENGLISH SUBTITLES] (via Reddit)

Charlie Brooker on Gadaffi

Charlie Brooker's commentary on Gadaffi's erratic atrocities -- and the western leaders who've kissed up to him over the years -- from last week's Ten O'Clock Live is some of the most nose-milk-spurting material ever aired. I wish that all of Ten O'Clock Live's clips were on YouTube, as it would be amazing blogfodder -- the show is better than The Daily Show most weeks, IMO (I've asked, C4 say their lawyers won't let them because there are clips of the BBC, Sky, etc, which is some pretty weird fair dealing analysis).

Ten O'Clock Live

Gadaffi jams satellite phones and TV, mobile phones

The desperate Gadaffi regime in Libya has deployed powerful radio jammers that are blocking satellite-based TV networks and satellite phones around the region, as well as screwing up mobile phones across the nation.
On Monday, Al Jazeera television said Libya's intelligence agency was behind the powerful jamming that has disrupted the widely watched Arab satellite broadcaster's signal across much of the Middle East and North Africa.

On Saturday, Arbor Networks, a U.S. company that monitors Internet traffic said Internet service had been cut off in Libya for a second consecutive day.

Thuraya satellite telecom says jammed by Libya

Gadaffi sends text-spam offering bribes to counter-revolutionaries

Middle-Eastern media source @MAQAM reports that Gadaffi has SMS-spammed Libyans, offering 100 dinar mobile phone credit bribes to people who send out messages asking their friends to stop protesting and stay in their homes.

Libyan forces turn on Gadaffhi, declare "Free Benghazi," capture foreign mercenaries

Soldiers and police in Beghazi, Libya's second city, have thrown in with protesters on the ground and declared the city to be "Free Benghazi." The Guardian is carrying eyewitness reports of more than 4,000 foreign mercenaries being brought to the country to fight for Gadaffhi, some of whom are in custody of the revolutionary army. The "ransacked" government buildings are flying pre-Gadaffhi-era flags.
An air force officer, Major Rajib Faytouni, said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from 14 February. He said: "That's why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people."

Numerous witnesses in Benghazi have said that while artillery was used against citizens, air force planes did not fire on them here. They did, however, according to Faytouni, drop two bombs inside the Rajma military base to stop weapons falling into the hands of anti-government forces.

"The two colonels who defected in MiGs had refused orders to bomb the people," he said, referring to a pair of air force officers who fled to Malta in their jets on Monday. He added: "There were also two helicopters that flew to Tunis."

All around Benghazi there were indications that Gaddafi has lost control of the city. The military is no longer operating checkpoints, which are now manned only by a handful of traffic police. Every physical sign of the dictator has been taken down or burned. While there has been no violence in the past two days, angry demonstrators are driving through city firing Kalashnikov rifles into the air and demanding Gaddafi cede control and leave the country.

Libyan city dubbed 'Free Benghazi' as anti-Gaddafi troops take control

Free dial-up ISP for Libyans

XS4ALL, a fantastic, hacker-friendly ISP in the Netherlands, has thrown open all its modem lines for free use by people in Libya when and if their network access gets blocked by the government. DPCosta sez, "It's expensive (international call), but can be very handy in an emergency. The number is +31205350535 and the username/password are xs4all."

XS4all biedt Libiërs internet/XS4ALL provides Internet Libyans (Thanks, DPCosta, via Submitterator)

Saif Gadaffhi, plagiarist - UPDATED

Saif Gadaffhi's not just the scion of a lunatic dictatorial legacy, and not just the ironic recipient of a PhD from the London School of Economics in 'The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions' -- he's also a plagiarist!

An anonymous source at the LSE sez, "There appears to be some *at least* minor plagiarism in this thesis. If you look at the bottom of p45 there is a passage that goes: 'The expansions of the IMF's membership, together with the changes in the world economy, have required the IMF to adapt in a variety of ways to continue serving its purposes effectively'. If you plug this sentence into Google you get a link to the IMF Wikipedia page. I caught this within 60 seconds of opening the thesis. There's one more I found a page later. I tried twice with a hit rate of two out of two. Readers may want to look for more. My impression is the thesis is generally OK - the plagiarism may only be limited to boilerplate factoid stuff like this on the IMF. But it would be good to alert readers to comb through it using Google."

Consider yourselves alerted.

Update: Here we are, a Wiki to track instances of plagiarism in Junior's homework (Tx, Wheezer!)

THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making? (PDF)

Gadaffhi Junior's PhD celebrates "soft power," democracy

Saif Gadaffhi, son of Muammar, deliverer of speeches in which he pledges to hold dictatorial power until he has expended his last bullet, did his PhD at the London School of Economics on "THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making?"
This dissertation analyses the problem of how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions, exploring the approach of a more formal system of collective decision-making by the three main actors in global society: governments, civil society and the business sector. The thesis seeks to make a contribution by presenting for discussion an addition to the system of international governance that is morally justified and potentially practicable, referred to as 'Collective Management'. The thesis focuses on the role of civil society, analysing arguments for and against a role for civil society that goes beyond 'soft power' to inclusion as voting members in inter-governmental decision-making structures in the United Nations (UN) system, the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other institutions.

The thesis defends the argument that inclusion of elected representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in tripartite decision-making structures could potentially create a more democratic global governing system. This conclusion is supported by a specially-commissioned survey of leading figures in NGOs and IGO decision-making structures.

"THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making? (PDF)

Is this Irony or Absurdity?: Saif al-Islam Al Qadhafi's Disseration Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: LSE-educated man the west can no longer deal with

Realtime analysis of Libya tweets


Trendsmap's Libya page is a real-time dashboard for all the media emerging from the Libyan uprising, with handy charts showing which subtopics are rising and falling (e.g., Venezuela's down, Tripoli is peaking).

Libya Trends - Trendsmap (Thanks, Bufferout, via Submitterator!)