Federal Agency Investigates Itself and, “Surprise,” Finds No Wrongdoing, FOIA Records Show
The internal affairs unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, whitewashed an investigation into an act of intimidation carried out by two of its agents against a journalist, according to an analysis of Freedom of Information Act documents obtained recently by Narco News.
The offending agents worked for ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (internal affairs), which, like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland, turns out to be the very same unit that was charged with investigating the agents' intimidating actions, the FOIA records reveal.
So, OPR was essentially investigating itself.
In addition, the OPR agents who “investigated” the offense failed to interview any of the witnesses to the intimidation or even the complaining party — the president of the Federal Hispanic Law Enforcement Officers Association (FHLEOA), Sandalio Gonzalez, a former high-ranking DEA commander.
By Brenda Norrell
A joint report for the UN Periodic Review from the US Human Rights Network has been released. Unlike the US State Department's watered-down version of the testimony presented at the Listening Conferences, this 423-page report documents the US human rights abuses of Native Americans and migrants.
The Human Rights Network report includes Indigenous Peoples Rights, US torture in violation of Geneva Conventions and the systematic racial discrimination in the US, in regards to race and gender in housing, employment and elsewhere.
The new report describes the shocking and inhumane treatment of migrants by ICE and Homeland Security and the militarization of the US/Mexico border.
The report states how migrants are held behind barbed wire, subjected to strip searches and denied basic human rights during imprisonment.
"Depending upon where they are detained, they may not be permitted contact visits with family, may be subject to degrading conditions including strip searches, and may face barriers to communicating with their family, counsel, or other support systems. Immigrants in detention may be held for prolonged periods of time without access to the outdoors.
El organismo gubernamental recorta USD$26 millones al programa debido a preocupaciones en materia de derechos humanos
En una acción sin precedentes, el Departamento de Estado de los EEUU decidió recortar USD$26 millones de un total de USD$175 millones que sería usado para la guerra contra las drogas en México.
El dinero es parte de la Iniciativa Mérida (Plan México), un acuerdo de seguridad por USD$1.4 billones aprobado en 2008, en donde los Estados Unidos proporcionan entrenamiento y equipo a las fuerzas de seguridad mexicanas, incluyendo a las Fuerzas Armadas.
Esta es la primera vez que el Departamento de Estado retiene fondos para un acuerdo de seguridad por cuestiones de derechos humanos. El organismo gubernamental afirma que tomó esa decisión basado en los abusos a los derechos humanos cometidos por el Ejército Mexicano.
El diario Arizona Republic, que publicó la nota por primera vez este fin de semana, escribe que:
El gobierno de Obama quiere que México juzgue a los soldados acusados de abusos en los tribunales civiles, fortalezca sus leyes en contra de las violaciones a los derechos humanos y establezca formas para que los grupos de ciudadanos tengan mayor participación en las estrategias de la lucha contra las drogas, dijo Harry Edwards, vocero del Departamento de Estado.
... Bajo los términos de la Iniciativa Mérida, se supone que el Departamento de Estado retendrá 15 porciento de la ayuda antidrogas a menos que México cumpla cuatro condiciones: asegurar que los soldados acusados de abusos a los derechos humanos sean procesados en tribunales civiles, mejorar la rendición de cuentas de la Policía Federal, hacer cumplir la prohibición a la tortura, y consultar con grupos civiles las estrategias antidrogas.
Como Narco News ha reportado, durante la administración de Felipe Calderón ha habido más quejas por abusos a los derechos humanos en contra de militares que nunca antes. De las 4,305 quejas reportadas desde 2006, 56 miembros del ejército han sido sancionados desde entonces.
Citing human rights concerns, agency cuts $26 million from drug war program
In an unprecedented move, the US State Department has decided to cut $26 million from a $175 million payment that will be used to wage the drug war Mexico.
The money is part of the Mérida Initiative (Plan Mexico), a $1.4 billion security agreement passed in 2008, in which the United States provides training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and military personnel.
It is the first time that the State Department has denied funds from the security pact due to human rights concerns. The agency claims it made the decision based on human rights abuses committed by the Mexican military.
The Arizona Republic, which broke the story over Labor Day weekend, writes that:
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By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Mike Wilson at water station for migrants on Tohono O'odham land, where a large number of migrants die each year of dehydration. Photo Brenda Norrell.
ARIZONA -- Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants on Tohono O'odham land as humanitarian aid, responded to an e-mail threat of poisoned water.
The anonymous e-mail said, "F you. I hope some real Americans will step up and put poison in the water. I hope you are the first to drink."
The e-mail threat, on Aug. 29, was sent in response to the article, "Tohono O'odham Nation surrendered its will to the Border Patrol." http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2010/03/mike-wilson-tohono-oodham-nation.html
Wilson said, "I'm not surprised by the threat, it is certainly expected and no one is immune. Humane Borders has received these threats for the last ten years, including the writing of 'veneno' (poison) on the sides of its water barrels in the desert.
Ofelia Rivas, traditional O'odham living on the border, released a statement to the National Guard, who are to arrive on the US/Mexico border in Arizona on Monday.
Photo by Jason Jaacks.
To the United States National Guard arriving in O'odham Lands,
We are not compliant people, we are people with great dignity and confidence. We are a people of endurance and have a long survival history. We are people that have lived here for thousands of years. We have our own language, we have our own culture and traditions.
You are coming to my land, you may find me walking on my land, sitting on my land and just going about my daily life. I might be sitting on the mountain top, do not disturb me, I am praying the way my ancestors did for thousands of years. I might be out collecting what may be strange to you but it might be food to me or medicine for me.
Sometimes I am going to the city to get a burger or watch a movie or just to resupply my kitchen and refrigerator. Some of us live very much like you do and some of us live very simple lives. Some of may not have computers or scanners or televisions or a vehicle but some of us do.
While the US is kicking and screaming about Wikileaks posting data, no one pays attention to the documents already posted by the US Army itself, including the Special Operations manual that describes the extensive support to guerrillas (terrorists) by US military special operations to carry out violence. Among the US goals is to destabilize governments and keep wars going.
Wikileaks exposed that the US has been paying the Taliban and resistance forces.
Already online, posted by the US Army itself, is: "A Leader's Handbook to Unconventional Warfare." It describes in detail how the US military supports guerrilla movements (terrorists): http://www.soc.mil/swcs/swmag/Assets/SWCS%20Publications/Leaders%20Guide%20Final.pdf
By Brenda Norrell
Photo: California border by Brenda Norrell.
Updated Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010
The 72 people murdered at a ranch in Tamaulipas State, about 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, were migrants. Thirty-one of those murdered were identified on Friday, Aug. 27. They were 14 Hondurans, 12 Salvadorans, four Guatemalans and one Brazilian.
On Sunday, bomb attacks hit Tamaulipas, as police were investigating the mass murder of the migrants. Four devices exploded in just 24 hours, injuring at least 17 people. The lead investigator in the mass murder case, and one police officer, have been missing since Wednesday. Bombs also exploded outside a television station and police station in Tamaulipas during the investigation.
Mexican police suspect the Zetas of the mass murder of the 72 migrants. The Zetas were trained by the United States as special forces, according to School of Americas Watch.
"Many of the Zeta leaders have been identified by Mexican officials as former members of an elite paratroop and intelligence battalion known as the Special Air Mobile Force Group, formerly assigned to the state of Tamaulipas, which borders southern Texas, to fight drug traffickers," according to SOA Watch.
The Mexican government confirmed that several of the Zetas were trained at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
A core of 31 US trained former battalion members are thought to lead the Zetas. Several members deserted the Special Air Mobile Force Group in 1991, aligning themselves with drug traffickers and establishing their own smuggling routes into the United States, according to SOA Watch.
The 72 murdered migrants were mourned throughout the Americas this week. The lone survivor in the attack of mingrants, from Ecuador, was shot in the neck, pretended to be dead, then escaped and reached military forces who stormed the ranch.
Most migrants are Indigenous Peoples from Central and South America. They have nothing and are walking north through Mexico trying to survive. They are often kidnapped and help for ransom. Those who have no way of paying the kidnappers are shot, one by one, or tortured in front of the others. They are asked to give a phone number of a person in the US that can pay the ransom, if they have no one, they are killed. This is revealed in the new documentary "The Invisibles," which just premiered in Tucson.
US State Department Claims Blackwater Corporation Gave Military Training in Colombia Without Agency's Permission
Blackwater, a corporation that specializes in providing military-style training and support to other businesses and governments, recently entered into a $42 million civil settlement with the State Department this month after the agency found that the company violated international arms trafficking and export regulations no less than 288 times.
The settlement is mainly focused on the company's business dealings in Iraq and Afghanistan, but within a 41-page document (PDF) of the State Department's findings on the case, the agency also claims that Blackwater provided at least one unauthorized military training in Colombia in 2005, allegedly in violation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
By Brenda Norrell
Updated Aug. 24, 2010
It appears no one was listening at the US State Department’s Listening Conferences this year, when Native Americans offered testimony on human rights for a report to the United Nations.
The US Periodic Review on Human Rights released Monday, Aug. 23, shows the Obama Administration giving itself a glossy, positive review on the issue of Native Americans and human rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
However, the release of the final document proves Russell Means was accurate when he described the Listening Conferences as a “Smokescreen.”
“Once again, the occupation government of the United States of America has trotted out its dogs and ponies to provide a smokescreen and diversion from its continuing crimes against the indigenous peoples and nations of the Western Hemisphere,” Means said in March.
The US report to the UN fails to describe the ongoing environmental genocide, where corporations in collusion with the US government target Indian country with power plants, coal mines and oil and gas wells.
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Mexican Border Town’s Industrial Parks Have Become a “Green Zone” in the Drug War
The screaming headlines and shocking images that invade our lives daily from south of the U.S. border might lead many of us to believe that Juarez, Mexico, is a dying city bleeding out from a thousand cuts of daily narco-war violence.
The Mexican border city has seen more than 1,900 murders so far this year alone and in excess of 6,200 since January 2008, when the violence escalated with the arrival of the Mexican military to provide “protection” to the residents of the city.
But if Juarez is truly being killed off by the bloodshed spawned by the narco-trafficking trade, then why is that violence not affecting the entire city – where some 10,000 small businesses have closed their doors since 2008 due, in large part, to a wave of burglaries, kidnappings, extortion and murders that has washed over the city during the past two and a half years?
There is often an exception to most rules, and in the case of Juarez, the rule of violence does not extend to its industrial zones, which are home to some 360 maquiladora factories that employ more than 190,000 people.