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Dirty Little Secrets


Last Updated: 08/07/2013 7:48 pm

In May, 10 members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), working under the auspices of Center for Public Integrity, began the release of a series of articles, titled “Collateral Damage,” reporting on a year-long investigation to assess “the impact of foreign lobbying and terrorism on post-9/11 US military training and assistance policies.” Highlighting almost 80 countries on four continents, the ICIJ discovered linkages between political pressure applied by a post-9/11 US, coercive lobbying by foreign governments who were the beneficiaries of assistance, and aid dollars that “have reshaped policies toward countries ranging from tiny Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, to Pakistan and Thailand in Asia, to Poland and Romania in Europe, even to Colombia.”

As the investigation points out, billions of dollars of military aid has been given to countries whose horrible humanitarian rights offenses saw the US eliminate or restrict aid pre-9/11. Claiming that “neither the Defense Department nor Congress has done as much as it could to make sure the money was spent as intended, providing what one seasoned congressional aide described as ‘a blank check,’” the investigation also takes a look into claims of extraordinary rendition by CIA agents—the kidnapping of people in their own countries who are then transported to prisons in foreign countries “known for torturing prisoners.”

All results of the ICIJ investigation can be found at the Center for Public Integrity website (www.publicintegrity.org), including extensive databases depicting country breakdowns of human rights violations of US recipients of military aid in 2005, and country-by-country breakdowns of US military aid recipients pre- and post-9/11.

The following article highlights the US-Israel relationship.

                                                                                                                    —Lorna Tychostup

The King Hussein Bridge is the most direct route from Amman to Jerusalem, but it was not a trip Marwan Ibrahim Mahmoud Jabour wanted to make—he had no choice. It was September 2006, and Jabour, a 30-year-old Jordanian engineer who says he made the mistake of going to Afghanistan in a fruitless attempt to join the jihad, had spent the last two years as a US prisoner—possibly in Afghanistan but he wasn’t sure, since his captors had never revealed the location. According to a sworn affidavit he gave to an Israeli military court, he’d spent much of that time naked and alone in a tiny cell with a bucket to serve as a toilet, being subjected to loud music and hot or freezing temperatures, presumably to soften him up for interrogations that went on for as long as 14 straight hours.

But now, apparently, the Americans were done with Jabour. They’d drugged him and sent him on a jet back to the Middle East. The trip was what is known in the US war on terror as an “extraordinary rendition,” the transfer of a terror suspect to a foreign country for interrogation—and sometimes torture, human rights activists charge—outside of any legal process. Jabour says he never faced a judge, a prosecutor, or a jury. When asked for comment on Jabour’s affidavit, the CIA cited its standing policy of not commenting on allegations of extraordinary rendition.

Jabour found himself in the back seat of a car driven by Jordanian intelligence agents. At the other side of the King Hussein Bridge, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they handed him over to Israeli intelligence agents. In his affidavit, Jabour said that one of the Israelis mocked him in greeting: “Welcome, Osama bin Laden. Where are you coming from?”

Jabour’s case is the first documented instance of a terror suspect who was not linked to Hezbollah or Palestinian terror groups making his way from American hands to Israeli custody. That such a thing could happen should probably come as no surprise, given the traditionally close cooperation between the United States and Israel on security matters. The controversial techniques Jabour says his American captors used were not concocted out of thin air; many were perfected and put into regular practice by the Israelis, who in the post-9/11 era have quietly become one of the world’s most important exporters of interrogation and counterterrorism methods decried by human rights groups as constituting torture and violating basic human rights.

One of Israel’s “students,” the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found, has been the United States. For its part, the United States reciprocates through continued massive military aid and assistance to Israel, thanks in no small part to strong Israeli lobbying of the US Congress. ICIJ’s database of foreign military assistance shows that Israeli governmental entities spent more than $30 million in the three years after September 11, 2001, on expenditures governed by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, including lobbying Congress and the Executive branch.

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