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Curveball is Today Known as 'Caesar' - Syrian Torture [Update]

by Oui Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 09:25:10 AM EST

[Update] Syria 'smoking gun' report warrants a careful read - CS Monitor Tears Apart Qatar Funded Torture Report.

This report was funded by the Government of Qatar who gave a contract to the London law firm Carter-Ruck & Co. I read the report, I did not find any mention the funding by Qatar. The London law firm has represented the State of Qatar on numerous occasions. The firm also represented the late Russian oligarch Berezovsky.

    Wikipedia: Carter-Ruck - The Libel Reform Campaign

    The Libel Reform Campaign cite many instances where the application of the libel laws by Law Firms like Carter-Ruck is effectively gagging the freedom of expression and free speech in the England and Wales leaving only the wealthy anywhere in the world able to seek justice in the UK where it would be denied in their own country. The most recent example of Carter-Ruck acting on behalf of a client to stifle criticism was reported in the Guardian newspaper on 19 January 2011. Carter-Ruck on behalf of Midland Pig Producers issued a warning letter to the Soil Association threatening libel proceedings after the SA objected to a MPP planning application. Threatening such proceedings, which are rarely followed through, is a typical modus operandi of Carter-Ruck (and other law firms) to minimise scrutiny and adverse publicity of their clients.

I saw three "prominent" members of international fame in an interview by Amanpour on CNN.

Exclusive: Gruesome Syria photos may prove torture by Assad regime

(CNN - Amanpour) - A team of internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts has found "direct evidence" of "systematic torture and killing" by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the lawyers on the team say in a new report.

Their report, based on thousands of photographs of dead bodies of alleged detainees killed in Syrian government custody, would stand up in an international criminal tribunal, the group says.

CNN's "Amanpour" was given the report in a joint exclusive with The Guardian newspaper.

"This is a smoking gun," said David Crane, one of the report's authors. "Any prosecutor would like this kind of evidence -- the photos and the process. This is direct evidence of the regime's killing machine."

Continued with report below the fold ...


Confidential Report into the credibility of certain evidence with regard to Torture and Executions of Persons incarcerated by the current Syrian regime

The members of the inquiry team travelled to the Middle East from the United Kingdom and the United States of America to discharge a mandate given to them by the firm Carter-Ruck & Co. in the City of London.

The information available to the legal team prior to its arrival in the Middle East was that there was a defector from Syria who was then in a third country. Prior to his defection he had been in the military police. The legal team was further informed that there were some fifty-five thousand (55,000) photographic images of some eleven thousand (11,000) detained persons who had been tortured and killed by agents of the current Syrian regime since the beginning of the uprising against the Assad regime in March 2011.

It was also the understanding of the inquiry team that this defector had supplied thousands of photographic images of executed persons by making copies of the photographic images on a "flash drive" (memory stick.

The mandate entrusted to the inquiry team was to question this defector and to establish whwther he was a truthful and credible witness.

The interviewing of the defector, who was codenamed "Caesar" for his own protection, took place on the 12th, 13th, and 18th January 2014.

This report is making headlines as the Geneva II Conference is about to convene tomorrow in Montreux, Switzerland. For Public Relations of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the report is also a distraction to this news item on the back-pages of newspapers - Qatar-linked charities 'gave millions to Al Qaida' - US. It made me feel uncomfortable to read another one-sided story about the sectarian/civil war in Syria, spreading across the borders into Lebanon and Iraq. At Juan Cole's Informed Comment, the following headline ... [He must be more certain of the facts than the panel members of the inquiry who authored the report!]

Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners

"Caesar" did not see the torture or executions himself, but photographed the bodies afterward. The report explains, "The reason for photographing executed persons was twofold: First to permit a death certificate to be produced without families requiring to see the body thereby avoiding the authorities having to give a truthful account of their deaths; second to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out."

That is to say, the Baath officials who ordered these 11,000 executions of prisoners of war were afraid that prison guards would take bribes to release the prisoners and just report them dead. The photographs were to prove to their superiors that they had actually followed through and polished the prisoner off. They were an anti-fraud measure.

The authors find that this bureaucratic rationale for the photographing, and the sophisticated numbering system used to keep track of the bodies, are strong evidence on the face of it that the regime ordered the deaths. Likewise, the assembly-line character of the photography work, with 50 bodies a day recorded, points to a systematic regime practice.

They write, "In the view of the inquiry team the need to photograph those who were killed is a strong pointer to the fact that the killings were systematic, ordered, and directed from above."

My rebuttal @Informed Comment is awaiting publication due to moderation.

Curveball, I meant to say "Caesar" was interviewed just a few days ago. Of course the Assad regime is liable for war crimes, this report is timely and suspicious. Commissioned by London law firm Carter-Ruck with funds from the State of Qatar. To be clear, the three persons of the inquiry team are former prosecutors in special tribunals. David Crane now runs a consulting firm called CW Group International, recently used its expertise on behalf of the government of Guinea's former military leader, Moussa Dadis Camara. Geraldine Finucane, the widow of the murdered lawyer, watched the debate on Sir Desmond de Silva's report and called it a 'sham' - see The Guardian. Sir Geoffrey Nice, a supporter of the Human Rights Commission of the British Conservative Party, played a role in the  Iran Tribunal. The support for the tribunal fell apart when its neutrality was questioned and the organisers were exposed linked to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

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I believe your rebuttal uses 'libel' where it should say 'liable'.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 11:32:39 AM EST
Thank you. Too much influence by the London firm of (in)famous libel attorneys?  :-)
by Oui on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 01:03:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a kind thought for you when I saw the news this evening about "Caesar". Perhaps the moderation hold is out of fear of being sued for libel.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 07:23:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My comment wasn't acceptable for the scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East. Each and every comment of mine will now be moderated and I will most likely be banned. Don't touch his beloved Qatar and Emirates.
by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 08:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lo and behold! My new comment -here- did pass moderation. Just a link to this diary @ET. Perhaps as a result of a similar analysis by CS Monitor - Syria 'smoking gun' report warrants a careful read. See also added post below.
by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 03:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria and Diplomacy  by Craig Murray

I do not doubt at all that atrocities have been committed and are being committed by the Assad regime.  It is a very unpleasant regime indeed.  The fact that atrocities are also being committed by various rebel groups does not make Syrian government atrocities any better.

But whether 11,000 people really were murdered in a single detainee camp I am unsure.  What I do know is that the BBC presentation of today's report has been a disgrace.  The report was commissioned by the government of Qatar who commissioned Carter-Ruck to do it.  Both those organisations are infamous suppressors of free speech.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC are presenting the report as though it were produced by neutral experts, whereas the opposite is the case.  It is produced not by anti torture campaigners or by human rights activists, but by lawyers who are doing it purely and simply because they are being paid to do it.

The BBC are showing enormous deference to Sir Desmond De Silva, who is introduced as a former UN war crimes prosecutor.  He is indeed that, but it is not the capacity in which he is now acting.  He is acting as a barrister in private practice.  Before he was a UN prosecutor, he was for decades a criminal defence lawyer and has defended many murderers.  He has since acted to suppress the truth being published about many celebrities, including John Terry.

If the Assad regime and not the government of Qatar had instructed him and paid him, he would now be on our screens arguing the opposite case to that he is putting.  That is his job.  He probably regards that as not reprehensible.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC do not make it plain, but introduce him as a UN war crimes prosecutor as though he were acting in that capacity or out of concern for human rights.

by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 08:34:56 AM EST
Dutch television 'Nieuwsuur' report on torture allegations (with scepsis) and an interview with Sir Geoffrey Nice - start at 03:40 min.

Q. You and your colleagues were hired by a British law firm, which in turn was funded by the government of Qatar. How can you be sure you haven't been used as a propagande vehicle for the Syrian opposition?

Nice: I'm not in a position to say we weren't in anyway used or that we were used. It's no matter for us. As far as we know, we were asked to perform a professional task, which we did. In an open way as we can, which is revealed by the report, which you have been able to read. And all questions as to motivation or timing have to be for others and you must direct your questions to them.

by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 11:59:36 AM EST
First question I asked myself, why a codename and why the secrecy to protect the defector? Surely there aren't dozens of police forensics photographers and with 55,000 photo's and 11,000 victims, the Syrian regime won't find it difficult to 'unmask' this Caesar. Very odd IMO.

Syria defector's photos depict 'systematic torture and killing' of detainees

(CBC) - Syrian officials could face war crimes charges as a result of the evidence provided by the photographer, who has defected, the three prosecutors said. One of photos contained in the report suggesting torture of Syrian detainees.

One of the prosecutors said the evidence documented "industrial scale killing" that was reminiscent of the Second World War concentration camps of Belsen and Auschwitz.

The trove of harrowing photographs ratchets up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the United States and its Western allies say has committed war crimes against his own people during the civil war.

"There is clear evidence, capable of being believed by a tribunal of fact in a court of law, of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government," the three prosecutors said in the 31-page report.

Photographer flees Syria

The defector, who was codenamed Caesar and whose identity has not been released to the media, had worked as a criminal investigator for the military police for 13 years prior to his defection.

...
Reuters has reviewed the report but it was not possible to determine the authenticity of Caesar's photographs or to contact Caesar. It was not possible to get an immediate response from the Syrian government.

The three former prosecutors, who worked at the criminal war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined the evidence and interviewed the source in three sessions in the last 10 days. They found him credible.

by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 12:24:33 PM EST
I think they use codenames so that if the govt discovers the name and discredits them, they can say "ah no, you're wrong, it's an entirely different professional useful idiot liar informant

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 02:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The opening by UN SG Ban Ki-moon was magnificent and should be lauded. The response by Syrian regime and SNC oppostion was less so, both were combative and used all available tools of propaganda to establish their animosity towards one another. The negotiations are due to start Friday in Geneva - YouTube video.

Montreux, 22 January 2014 - Secretary-General's remarks at the High Level Segment of the Geneva Conference on Syria

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for involving the patriotic opposition inside Syria into the inter-Syrian talks

Speaking at the Geneva II Peace Conference, Lavrov said, "The Geneva Communiqué and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118 imply that all groups of the Syrian society should have an opportunity to be involved in the national dialogue."

"However, patriotic opposition groups, which are acting inside Syria and showing interest in taking part in the Geneva II forum, are not involved in the process," the Russian minister said, adding "I believe that the situation should be corrected by involving them in the talks. Moscow hopes that our LAS partners realize this task."

"The same fully applies to the need of involving Iran in our joint efforts on implementing the Geneva communiqué without attempting to make a certain interpretation of it. The essence of this document is that questions of Syria's future should be decided on the basis of mutual assent of the government and the opposition," Sergei Lavrov said.

Secretary of State John Kerry's Intervention at the Geneva ll International Conference on Syria

Thank you very much, Secretary Ban, and thank you, Ambassador Brahimi, for your commitment to helping the Syrian people find a new future.  And I join with Foreign Minister Lavrov in thanking all of the countries around the table, all of the groups around the table.  I thank President Burkhalter and the people of Switzerland for making this important meeting possible.  And I thank the Russian Federation and Foreign Minister Lavrov for his cooperation and efforts together with us, working to try to initiate this process.  I also want to welcome the leaders of the Syrian opposition, and I thank them for the courageous decision they've made.  Everybody here knows the pressures that have existed.

...
Now, lost in the daily reports of violence is the fact that this revolution did not begin as an armed resistance.  This started peacefully.  It was started by schoolboys in Daraa who are armed only with graffiti cans, citizens who were peacefully and legitimately calling for change.  And they were met almost immediately with violence.  When their parents came out to protest the arrest of the children, 120 people died.  That was the beginning.

And tragically, the Assad regime answered peaceful demonstration after peaceful demonstration with ever-increasing force.  In the three years since then, this conflict has now left more than 130,000 dead, and it's hard to count accurately.  We all know that.  The fact is that these people have been killed by guns, by tanks, by artillery, by gas, by barrel bombs, by Scud missiles.  They've been killed by weapons almost exclusively of the magnitude not possessed by the opposition.  Starvation has been used as a weapon of war.  And most recently, we have seen horrific reports of systematic torture and execution of thousands of prisoners.  This is an appalling assault, not only on human lives, but on human dignity and on every standard by which the international community tries to organize itself, recognizing the horrors of the humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded, the destabilization of neighboring countries, and the endless exile of refugees.

...
Now, we need to deal with reality here.  We really need to deal with reality.  Mutual consent, which is what has brought us here, for a transition government means that that government cannot be formed with someone that is objected to by one side or the other.  That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government.  There is no way - no way possible in the imagination - that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern.  One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage.  The right to lead a country does not come from torture, nor barrel bombs, nor Scud missiles.  It comes from the consent of the people.  And it's hard to imagine how that consent could be forthcoming at this point in time.

JPost - Kerry at Syria peace talks: No way Assad can be in new gov't

by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 01:03:06 PM EST
I would have bolded this part:
One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage.

It's one thing to demand Assad's dismissal, but this is a call for the whole regime to go. That's what you get when you win a civil war not when your losing it.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Wed Jan 29th, 2014 at 05:26:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria 'smoking gun' report warrants a careful read

(CS Moniyor) - The government of Syria has long used torture, collective punishment, and horrific detention conditions as a response to domestic threats to its power.

When times are good, torture has been a sort of background radiation to the country's repressive politics. It's going on, but not so in your face that it gets in the way of doing business with the country. That's one of the reasons it was possible for the US during the Bush administration to outsource torture and interrogation to Bashar Assad without expecting much of an outcry.

The report was given to The Guardian and CNN yesterday and released in full on the web. It was paid for by Qatar and organized through Carter-Ruck, a London-based law-firm hired by the tiny Gulf monarchy.

Caesar is said to have been a photographer for the military assigned to documenting deaths in detention. It is not unsurprising that someone would have this job. But the report by itself shouldn't be treated anything like the slam dunk it has been in the press, for a variety of reasons.

This is a single source report, from an unidentified man, who is related by marriage (according to a footnote on page 15 of the report) to a similarly unidentified member of the "Syrian National Movement" who "left Syria five days after the civil war against the current Syrian regime had begun and established contact with international human rights groups." The Syrian National Movement has been funded by Qatar and is devoted to Assad's downfall.

Why the rush for evidence that a source had been providing since September 2011?  It's pretty clear that the "time constraint" was set by the government of Qatar, who paid for the document (rather than, say, a neutral party with professional credentials in this kind of investigating like Human Rights Watch). It's a safe assumption that Qatar wanted this released ahead of UN-sponsored peace talks scheduled for Geneva this week. Anything that further demonizes Assad is a good thing from the perspective of Qatar and many of his opponents.

...
So in fact only images of 835 people were "evaluated in detail" by a team that asserted in its executive summary (the vast majority of people never read beyond the executive summary of any document) that 11,000 people had been systematically killed in detention. In other words, they simply extrapolated from a sample of 10 percent of the pictures (with no evidence or claims presented as to how a randomized sample would have been taken) to the whole.

...
But after the lies gobbled up the US people and Congress from anonymous sources from the first Gulf War (remember Hill & Knowlton's fabrication of Iraqi soldiers tossing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators) to the second (the fabricated intelligence of weapon's of mass destruction peddled by "Curveball" and the like) to the ongoing reassessment of the strength of the public evidence presented by the US about the certainty that the Assad government used sarin last year, this kind of report has to be treated with kid gloves.

by Oui on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 03:38:13 PM EST
Semantics, distortions and outright lies by politicians and journalists ... Iran's message at Davos has eerie echo.

A kinda ridiculous article about Rouhani in Davos, NYT reporter ought to stick to fiction/novels.

"And in an interview with Fareed Zakaria of CNN, he insisted that Iran would not agree to dismantle a single centrifuge - a position that, if nonnegotiable, would be a deal breaker."

I watched and listened to short trailers of interview and above presentation is an outright misrepresentation of what was said. It sells newspapers and increases viewer potential, but the right-wing media and politici will run with the headlines. The interview will be broadcast on Sunday.

Fareed Zakaria in CNN interview with Iranian president Rouhani in Davos

(CNN) - Iranian FM Javad Zarif in report by CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto:

In addition, the deal mandated that Iran halt all enrichment above 5% and "dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%," according to a White House fact sheet issued in November after the initial agreement was reached.

"The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again," he said, urging Sciutto to read the actual text of the agreement. "If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment."

McCain in debate with Russia's Pushkov blames Saudi bombing and USS Cole attack on Iranians

On BBC World Debate there is only a trailer available with the one-sided view of McCain. Typical. This weekend the broadcast can still be viewed. The perpetrators of the attack on the USS Cole were Al Qaeda militia from Yemen. McCain also used the Qatar propaganda of "11,000 detainees tortured and murdered by the Assad regime." See article in CS Monitor by  Dan Murphy - Syria 'smoking gun' report warrants a careful read. In the discussion, McCain used the words: "We were winning when Iran send in 5,000 Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards to turn the tide." So the Syrian clash is the US and FSA proxy against the evil empire of Assad, Putin and the ayatollahs. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

by Oui on Sat Jan 25th, 2014 at 10:12:49 AM EST


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