Swiss Cheese

January 25, 2006

The evidence-free allegations against the US and UK by a Swiss investigator have failed to impress (my emphasis).

An investigator for Europe’s leading human rights watchdog accused America yesterday of “gangster tactics” in its war on terrorism, notably the illegal transfer of terrorist suspects to countries likely to torture them.

He presented colleagues with an interim report dominated by newspaper cuttings and buttressed with evidence from an Italian inquiry into the alleged 2003 kidnapping by the CIA of a radical Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, in Milan.

That “Italian inquiry” is the unsubstantiated allegations of the Italian judge who thinks it takes 22 CIA agents to send one Egyptian home.

He accused Britain of particular complicity on the basis of a leaked secret memo from Sir Michael Wood, the chief legal adviser to the Foreign Office. In the 2003 memo Sir Michael asserted that there was no legal barrier to using foreign intelligence obtained under torture.

What has this to do with kidnapping? If someone gave the Swiss government information, extracted under whatever they consider to be torture, of a plot to blow up their Cuckoo clock industry, would they ignore it? I don’t think so.

Not surprisingly, the investigator’s presentation bombed:

Several British members of the assembly, which gathers MPs from 46 countries, criticised Mr Marty’s report.

Michael Hancock, a Liberal Democrat, said it needed to have “more substance. . . many of the issues are clouded in myth and a desire to kick America.”

Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, said the report had “more holes than a Swiss cheese”.

The Council of Europe, which is independent of the European Union, was set up in 1949 as a guardian of human rights in Europe.

The Council of Europe would be better employed investigating why Europe facilitated the atrocities in Bosnia.


Hypocritical, Not Evil

January 25, 2006

In China, Google hides the crimes of the ruling tyrants by censoring the search results of its customers. In the US, Google refuses to respect the requests of a democratically elected US government. That makes Google hypocritical.

Google has agreed to censor specific topics out of search results in China (my ellipsis):

“In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on, in response to local law, regulation or policy,” (Google) said in a statement issued yesterday. The search terms blocked will include what are known as the “the three t’s and the two c’s”: references to Taiwanese or Tibetan independence, the Tiananmen massacre, cult-related searches, which may trigger reference to the banned Falun Gong organisation, and information about Communist party supremacy.

I guess they’ll add the “two fs” – Freedom and Faith. Still, Google faced a bleak choice – either fall in line, or leave the market to Yahoo and Microsoft, who have already caved. If the tyrants agree, they’ll be honest about their censorship:

In an attempt to be more transparent than its rivals, Google said that it would inform users that certain web pages had been removed from the list of results by order of the government.

Yet when the elected US government makes reasonable and legitimate demands , Google defies them:

…Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for.

Google was asked for information on the types of query submitted over a week, and the websites included in its index…the Department of Justice has said that several of Google’s main competitors have already complied.

It wants:

A list of terms entered into the search engine during an unspecified single week, potentially tens of millions of queries.

A million randomly selected web addresses from various Google databases.

The US government is seeking to defend the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which has been blocked by the Supreme Court because of legal challenges over how it is enforced.

Handing over this information harms nobody except kids searching for porn, and respects a law passed by the democratically Congress (on Clinton’s watch!). If Google thinks the requested information breaches any person’s privacy (highly unlikely), they can offer an alternative dataset.

Otherwise, Google is obeying the dictats of Chinese tyrants and opposing the laws of the US, and that’s hypocrisy.