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Taylor Jones | Dilma Rosseff of Brazil / CagleCartoons.com

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WikiLeaks: How U.S. tried to stop Spain's torture probe

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  • The episode, revealed in a raft of WikiLeaks cables, was part of a secret concerted U.S. effort to stop a crusading Spanish judge from investigating a torture complaint against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five other senior Bush lawyers.
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  • WikiLeaks Cable: White House Worked With GOP To Kill Bush Torture Probe
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Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald | FL

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, left, speaks with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, center, in the company of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre at Spain's Interior Ministry in Madrid, Tuesday Oct. 24, 2006. Gonzales was in Madrid for talks with Spanish officials on cooperation in fighting terrorism, organized crime and illegal immigration. Paul White / Associated Press

It was three months into Barack Obama's presidency, and the administration -- under pressure to do something about alleged abuses in Bush-era interrogation policies -- turned to a Florida senator to deliver a sensitive message to Spain:
Don't indict former President George W. Bush's legal brain trust for alleged torture in the treatment of war on terror detainees, warned Mel Martinez on one of his frequent trips to Madrid. Doing so would chill U.S.-Spanish relations.

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Rather than a resolution, though, a senior Spanish diplomat gave the former GOP chairman and housing secretary a lesson in Spain's separation of powers. "The independence of the judiciary and the process must be respected,'' then-acting Foreign Minister Angel Lossada replied on April 15, 2009. Then for emphasis, "Lossada reiterated to Martinez that the executive branch of government could not close any judicial investigation and urged that this case not affect the overall relationship.''

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Related:

WikiLeaks Cable: White House Worked With GOP To Kill Bush Torture Probe, David Corn, Mother Jones
A WikiLeaks cable shows that when Spain considered a criminal case against ex-Bush officials, the Obama White House and Republicans got really bipartisan.

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Summary | The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Week of December 26

4 New Items including:

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  • Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange Is Not a Terrorist
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  • The Christian-Military-Industrial Complex
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

Scott Stantis

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Special Report | VFP-led DC Peace Action, David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"
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  • Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail
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Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange Is Not a Terrorist,  Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!/Reader Supported News
"Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am."

131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars", BorderExplorer, All Voices
Civil Resistance to war today (Thursday, Dec 16) at the White House fence leads to 131 arrests.

The Christian-Military-Industrial Complex, Shane Claiborne, Sojourners/God's Politics

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  • It’s true that my Christian faith gives me a passion for peace and sets me at odds with militarism. But I think I’d feel a similar dissatisfaction if the last resort for economic survival at our bookstores was selling Home Depot or Wal-Mart gift cards. I just have higher hopes for a distinctive Christian witness in the world today, even in a recession … especially in a recession.
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  • Bombs, Cookies And The Cross: A Christian View On Military Spending
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  • Western Civilization and Classical Economics: The Immorality of Austerity
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Speaking Ill of ‘the Best and the Brightest’

Holbrooke not only failed to learn from the U.S. mistakes in Vietnam; he repeated them in working for every Democratic president to follow.

Robert Scheer, TruthDig

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

Richard Holbrooke in Afghanistan. AP / Fradioon Pooya

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One of “the best and the brightest” died last week (Dec 12-18), and in Richard Holbrooke we had a perfect example of the dark mischief to which David Halberstam referred when he authored that ironic label. Holbrooke’s life marks the propensity of our elite institutions to turn out alpha leaders with simplistic world-ordering ambitions unrestrained by moral conscience or intellectual humility.

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Fresh from Brown University, Holbrooke marched off as a foreign service officer to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese, who were not buying it. He quickly became involved with the pacification program that herded peasants off their land into barbed-wire encampments while we bombed the surrounding areas.

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START Treaty is not a Step Toward Nuclear Disarmament

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  • In order to achieve this "deal," the media told us for months, Obama "had to agree" to tens of billions in new funds for "modernizing" the US nuclear armaments. Feel safer?
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  • There is no disarmament required by the treaty.  There is no indication that it is a "first step" toward "further" "disarmament."
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  • "New START" Ratification Likely End of Obama's "Disarmament Vision," and of Arms Control Era, as New Political Alignments, Fresh Crises Loom
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Greg Mello, Tikkun

What began as a business-as-usual replacement for a Cold War arms treaty, and then became a major legislative challenge for the Obama Administration, was finally ratified by the U.S. Senate today after unusually-involved negotiations with Senate Republicans.  New START is a force-affirmation treaty, designed to clarify, but not change or disarm, U.S. and Russian nuclear arms.  There is no disarmament required by the treaty.  There is no indication that it is a "first step" toward "further" "disarmament."  

These negotiations resulted in extensive commitments by the Administration to new spending and upgrades to U.S. strategic armaments, including nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons infrastructure, missile defense research, development, and deployments, and continued development of conventional global strike weapons -- much of which is applicable to nuclear delivery systems as well, being currently barred only by (mutable) law.   
Ultra-accurate submarine-launched ballistic missile delivery systems have already been developed (but not deployed) under this last program.  
The full cost of this treaty cannot yet be assessed, as not all the details of understandings reached have been made public, and the full import of some which have depends on future decisions and events.  Just this week, and on top of announcements of two major increases in nuclear weapons spending, President Obama promised four senators (including two Democrats) that nuclear weapons complex spending would be exempt from any future fiscal austerity measures that might otherwise apply to appropriations in the Energy and Water subcommittees.  The prior increases are posted here and analyzed here and elsewhere at www.lasg.org.  

The long struggle to ratify the treaty, and its huge final cost in the very coin of arms control which the treaty purports to advance, signals just how weak the Cold War arms control consensus has become.  Prospects for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), for example, appear nil for the foreseeable future.  The U.S. will ratify this treaty, if it does, only when its progressive ratification by other states has reached a point of embarrassment wholly incompatible with U.S. geostrategic ambitions.    

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The way forward for arms controllers is not clear.  Russia has made clear on numerous occasions that it has no intention of pursuing further nuclear cuts and has halted the financially-driven erosion of its nuclear forces.  With Russia now the world's largest oil producer and the supplier of a controlling fraction of natural gas to Europe -- a fraction that is expected to grow considerably in the coming years -- Russia is not the weak negotiating partner that it was during, say, the START II negotiations.  The reality of Russian power -- and U.S. weakness vis-a-vis military operations in the oil- and gas-rich regions south of Russia -- was not lost on Republican ratification opponents.  

While on their face most of the Republican objections to ratification appeared foolish and ill-informed, these objections also conveyed a deep unease about the future of American global power, which is hardly misplaced.  

The makeup of the incoming House and Senate (112th) is likely to be much more hostile to arms control than the (111th) Congress now concluding.  
Looking ahead, prospects for conventional arms control appear worse.  There are 23 Democratic Senate seats up for election in 2012, including 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, compared to only 10 Republican seats.  In 2014 Democrats are currently expected to have 20 seats up for election, and Republicans 13, although obviously this could change.  For these and other reasons, prospects for conventional arms control measures appear bleak for the foreseeable future.  

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At the same time fresh and far more severe crises are looming, which, in their earliest manifestations, have already begun to capture Congress's (and voters') attention.   

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The implications for the New Mexico laboratories are complex.  As noted here, they will suffer from an unprecedented infusion of cash -- about six times the total scale of the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, measured in constant dollars.  But will this bring better morale, better science, better community relations, a more wholesome community in Los Alamos -- or even better stockpile management?  That is very far from assured.  The reverse, I think, is very likely true.  The best days of Los Alamos are in the past, and if the day ever dawns when excavation begins on the giant plutonium complex slated to cost a factor of ten more any federal or state project ever conceived for New Mexico, save the Interstate Highways, it will be a dark day.  

As Robert Oppenheimer put it on the 16th of October, 1945, "If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people must unite, or they will perish."

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Now we know that it may or not be atomic weaponry which kills them, but rather the distraction they have brought, and misprioritization of scarce resources they incur.  Today's treaty ratification is not an occasion of joy for the world, but rather a somber warning of the failure of our political system to understand and defend against the true dangers we face.

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