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    The Guardian view on a Kabul heist: snatching money from the starving | Editorial

    The Guardian view on a Kabul heist: snatching money from the starvingEditorialAfghans are not to blame for 9/11, though they have paid for it many times over. Cruelly, they are being punished again The average Afghan was not even alive when planes were flown into the twin towers on 11 September 2001. This is only one of the reasons why handing money from the Afghan central bank to the families of 9/11 victims would be unconscionable. Parents are already selling their organs to feed their children, 98% of the population is short of food, and unless cash starts flowing again things are about to get much, much worse.The executive order signed by the Biden administration on Friday would allow Afghanistan’s $7bn US-held assets, frozen when the Taliban swept to power, to be halved. One half would be held pending the outcome of lawsuits brought against the Taliban by the families of 9/11 victims who have persuaded a judge to attach their case to the Afghan assets. The other half, if courts agree, would be used for humanitarian aid. The administration’s argument is that this may help get assistance to Afghanistan more swiftly, without having to await the outcome of the cases. The government can step into lawsuits to say what it believes is in the national interest, but decided that it would not object to any decision to award half the money to the families.Though central bank funds are supposed to enjoy diplomatic immunities, it appears that the administration can act if a “recognised representative of the Afghan government” approves – raising obvious questions about who might now qualify. Whatever the legal technicalities, the moral case is clear. Afghans are not to blame for 9/11, though they have paid for it many times over. Some of the bereaved have already condemned the idea of taking Afghan money as a betrayal. Thousands of American families were devastated that day, and $7bn compensation was disbursed to bereaved relatives and the injured (many of whom faced huge medical bills); another $10bn is still being paid out. This is in stark contrast with Afghanistan, where, on the very rare occasions that the US made compensation or “condolence” payments for civilian deaths, relatives usually received a small four-figure sum. The administration cannot claim the moral high ground because it proposes using some of the money for aid. Though most of it originally came from international donors, including the US, it is no longer theirs to spend, and some represents the personal savings of Afghans.In any case, humanitarian relief is no substitute for a functioning, if floundering, economy. It is not merely that it raises the prospect of starving Afghans paying the salaries of western aid workers, and of a flood of food aid causing more long-term damage by crippling agriculture. The UN had already warned that the financial system could collapse within months; seizing the central bank’s assets could be the last straw. It’s true that those funds alone can’t solve Afghanistan’s underlying problems – but they are desperately needed to stave off some of the worst consequences.Afghan experts and others have worked on imaginative solutions to restore liquidity without simply ceding control of assets to the Taliban. The problem is not a lack of means, but of will: relief is an easier political sell in the US, which is also believed to have blocked other countries from unfreezing funds. No one wants to aid the Taliban, whose primary victims are Afghans. But no one should claim the administration’s plan is in the best interests of the Afghan people.TopicsAfghanistanOpinionTalibanJoe BidenDemocratsUS politicsSeptember 11 2001United NationseditorialsReuse this content More

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    Biden releases $7bn in frozen Afghan funds to split between 9/11 families and aid

    Biden releases $7bn in frozen Afghan funds to split between 9/11 families and aidMoney would go toward humanitarian efforts for Afghan people and to US victims of terrorism, keeping it out of hands of Taliban Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday releasing $7bn in frozen Afghan reserves to be split between humanitarian efforts for the Afghan people and American victims of terrorism, including relatives of 9/11.In a highly unusual move, the convoluted plan is designed to tackle a myriad of legal bottlenecks stemming from the 2001 terrorist attacks and the chaotic end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, which ignited a humanitarian and political crisis, the New York times reports.But critics warned that it could tip Afghanistan’s already-strained banking system over the edge into systemic failure and deepen a humanitarian crisis that has left millions facing starvation and almost the entire country – 98% – short of food.“You’re talking about moving toward a total collapse of the banking system,” Dr Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, a longtime member of the bank’s board and economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland, told the New York Times. “I think it’s a shortsighted view.”Cash shortages have already led to strict weekly limits on how much of their savings people can withdraw, deepening the economic crisis as inflation soars.In August the Taliban seized control and the former government collapsed, leaving behind just over $7bn in central bank assets deposited in the US Federal Reserve bank in New York. As Afghanistan’s top officials, including the president and central bank governor, fled the country, the Fed froze the account as it was unclear who was legally authorised to access the funds.The Taliban took over the central bank – known as Da Afghanistan Bank – and immediately claimed a right to the money, but under longstanding counter-terrorism sanctions it is illegal to engage in financial transactions with the organisation. Furthermore, the US does not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.As the Biden administration mulled over what to do with the funds, a group of relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks, who years ago won a default judgment against the Taliban and al-Qaida, sought to seize the Afghan bank assets. In a case known as Havlish, the plaintiffs persuaded a judge to dispatch a US marshal to serve the Federal Reserve with a “writ of execution” to seize the Afghan money.The Biden government has intervened in the lawsuit, and is expected to tell the court that the victims’ claims for half the money should be heard (several other victims’ groups have also asked for a share). If the judge agrees, Biden will seek to direct the remainder toward some sort of trust fund to be spent on food and other humanitarian aid in Afghanistan – while keeping it out of the hands of the Taliban.The process is likely to be long and messy, with advocates and some 9/11 victims arguing that the Afghan assets should all go to help the Afghan people who are facing mounting hardship.The money – which includes currency, bonds and gold – mostly comes from foreign exchange funds that accumulated over the past two decades when western aid flowed into Afghanistan. But it also includes the savings of ordinary Afghans, who are now facing growing violence and hunger with the economy and rule of law in freefall.“The 9/11 victims deserve justice but not from the Afghan people who themselves became pawns caught in the middle of the US-led ‘war on terror’ and an oppressive Taliban regime,” said Adam Weinstein, research fellow at the Quincy Institute, who also served as a US marine in Afghanistan.“The idea that overnight, the central bank reserves went from belonging to the Afghan people to being the transferable property of the United States is nothing short of colonial.”In another sign of the desperate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the World Health Organization said on Friday that a raging measles outbreak had infected tens of thousands and killed more than 150 people last month alone.The UN health agency said the outbreak was particularly concerning since Afghanistan is facing massive food insecurity and malnutrition, leaving children far more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease.“Measles cases have been increasing in all provinces since the end of July 2021,” a WHO spokesman, Christian Lindmeier, told reporters in Geneva.He said cases had surged recently, ballooning by 18% in the week of 24 January and by 40% in the last week of the month.In all, 35,319 suspected measles cases were reported in January, including 3,000 that were laboratory confirmed, and 156 deaths. Ninety-one per cent of the cases and 97% of the deaths were children under the age of five.Lindmeier stressed that the measles-related deaths were probably underreported and the numbers were expected to swell. “The rapid rise in cases in January suggests that the number of deaths due to measles is likely to increase sharply in the coming weeks,” Lindmeier said.TopicsAfghanistanJoe BidenSeptember 11 2001US foreign policyUS politicsFederal ReserveTalibannewsReuse this content More

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    The CIA lied to justify torturing one prisoner after 9/11. 20 years later, his story is still shrouded in secrecy

    The CIA lied to justify torturing one prisoner after 9/11. 20 years later, his story is still shrouded in secrecy Calls mount for release of full Senate report on the US torture of Abu Zubaydah to counter a narrative too many Americans still believe – that torture worksOn the morning of 6 October the nine justices of the US supreme court filed into their wood-paneled courtroom in Washington to hear arguments in a dispute between the US government and Abu Zubaydah, a Guantánamo prisoner who has been held incommunicado and without charge for the past 20 years.A government lawyer addressed the panel, arguing on grounds of “state secrets” that Zubaydah should be blocked from calling two CIA contractors to testify about the brutal interrogations they put him through at a hidden black site in Poland. Within minutes of his opening remarks, the lawyer was interrupted by Amy Coney Barrett, one of the rightwing justices appointed to the court by Donald Trump.Barrett wanted to know what the government would do were the contractors to give evidence before a domestic US court about how they had “waterboarded” Zubaydah at least 83 times, beat him against a wall, hung him by his hands from cell bars and entombed him naked in a coffin-sized box for 266 hours. “You know,” she said, “the evidence of how he was treated and his torture.”“Torture.”Barrett said the word almost nonchalantly, but its significance ricocheted around the courtroom and far beyond. By using the word she had effectively acknowledged that what was done by the CIA to Zubaydah, and to at least 39 other “war on terror” detainees in the wake of 9/11, was a crime under US law.After Barrett uttered the word the floodgates were opened. “Torture” echoed around the nation’s highest court 20 times that day, pronounced by Barrett six times and once by another of Trump’s conservative nominees, Neil Gorsuch, with liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan also piling in.Supreme Court hearing, 6 October 2021Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch use the word “torture” in the Abu Zubaydah hearingSorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp300:00:0000:00:41The flurry of plain speaking by justices on both ideological wings of the court amazed observers of America’s long history of duplicity and evasion on this subject. “The way the supreme court justices used the word ‘torture’ was remarkable,” Andrea Prasow, a lawyer and advocate working to hold the US accountable for its counterterrorism abuses, told the Guardian. “You could feel the possibility that the ground is shifting.”Prasow was astonished a second time three weeks later when Majid Khan, a former al-Qaida courier also held in Guantánamo, became the first person to speak openly in court about the torture he suffered at a CIA black site.Khan’s description of being waterboarded, held in the nude and chained to the ceiling to the point that he began to hallucinate was so overpowering that seven of the eight members of his military jury wrote a letter pleading for clemency for him, saying his treatment was a “stain on the moral fiber of America”.The ground does appear to be shifting, and as it does attention is once again falling on one of the great unfinished businesses of the 21st century: the US torture program. In the panicky aftermath of 9/11, when the world seemed to be imploding, the CIA took the view that the ends – the search for actionable intelligence to thwart further terrorist attacks – justified any means.With the enthusiastic blessing of the justice department and George W Bush’s White House, the CIA abandoned American values and violated international and US laws by adopting callous cruelties that they consciously copied from the enemy.They took one prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, and made him their experimental guinea pig. On Zubaydah’s back they built an entire edifice of torture – “enhanced interrogation techniques” as the bloodless euphemism went – that in turn was founded upon a mountain of lies. When the worst of the torture was completed, to spare themselves from possible prosecution the CIA insisted that Zubaydah remain “in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life”.“The torture program was designed for only one person – they gave him a name and that name was Abu Zubaydah,” Mark Denbeaux, Zubaydah’s lead habeas lawyer, told the Guardian. “After they tortured him, they demanded that he be held incommunicado forever so that his story could never be told. Since that moment the only people he has ever spoken to are his torturers, his jailers, and his lawyers, including me.”Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about ‘ineffective’ programRead moreTwenty years after Zubaydah was waterboarded, slammed repeatedly against a wall, sleep-deprived, face slapped, chained in painful stress positions, hosed with freezing water, stripped naked, and blasted with deafening noise, his story still has not fully been told. In 2014 the Senate intelligence committee released a heavily redacted, 500-page executive summary of its seven-year investigation into the torture program, generating headlines around the world and leading Barack Obama to conclude that “these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values, they did not serve our national security”.Yet at the insistence of the CIA the full report from which the summary was drawn remains under lock and key to this day. All three volumes of it. All more than 6,700 pages. All 38,000 footnotes. All the detail distilled from 6.2m pages of classified CIA documents.The persistent refusal to release the full Senate torture report has left a black hole at the centre of one of the most shameful episodes in US history. Now, with the T-word being heard even in the hallowed halls of the US supreme court, renewed calls are being made for the report to be published so that this sorry chapter can finally be closed.Several of the individuals most closely involved in the battle for the truth over Abu Zubaydah’s treatment have told the Guardian that 20 years is long enough. It is time for the American people to be told the full unadulterated facts about what was done in their name.“More than seven years after the completion of the torture investigation, it remains critically important that the public see the full report,” said Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon who was an important advocate for the Senate investigation and who played a critical role in ensuring that at least some of its findings have emerged into daylight.How the CIA tortured its detaineesRead moreWyden called for a full accounting of the CIA’s handling of detainees. He said a wealth of information still shrouded in secrecy would confirm that the torture program was ineffective – it simply didn’t work.“The withholding of the full report, and the redactions in the public executive summary, have hidden from the public the story of how the program was developed and operated. Understanding how all of this happened is important because it must never happen again.”Daniel Jones, the chief author of the US Senate report, said that now was the moment for its release. “The country is ready. It’s what you do in a transparent democracy: when you mess up you admit it and you move on as a better country. We’ve reached that point now.”Abu Zubaydah, 50, (actual name Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi-born Palestinian who was one of the CIA’s “high-value” targets in the wake of 9/11. He was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on 28 March 2002 in a raid in which he was shot several times including in the thigh and groin. He later lost his left eye while in US custody in unexplained circumstances.John Kiriakou, a former CIA counter-terrorism officer, was a leading member of the team that seized Zubaydah, sitting guard at the prisoner’s bedside after the raid. Though Kiriakou did not participate in the prisoner’s subsequent interrogations at secret black sites in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania and other countries, he continued to keep tabs on his captive.In December 2007, having by then left the CIA, Kiriakou gave an interview to NBC News in which he became the first former government official publicly to state that Zubaydah had been waterboarded – the process where a cloth is placed over a detainee’s face and water poured over it as a form of controlled drowning. Kiriakou declared that he had come to view the procedure as torture.Kiriakou’s comments marked the first chink in the wall of official silence surrounding the CIA’s abuses. The move displeased his former employers and he was made the subject of a leak inquiry that ended in a sentence of 23 months in a federal penitentiary – he is convinced as an act of revenge – ostensibly for having revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent to a journalist.Unbeknownst to him at the time, Kiriakou in fact gave erroneous information in his NBC News interview. He said Zubaydah had been waterboarded only once and that the detainee had instantly cracked, divulging good actionable intelligence in less than a minute.In fact, the prisoner was waterboarded not once but at least 83 times over more than a month. After the torture began in earnest at “detention site green” in Thailand in August 2002, the CIA gleaned no valuable information from Zubaydah whatsoever.Kiriakou told the Guardian that his remarks to NBC had been based on what he picked up at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. “This was all a lie and we didn’t know it was a lie until it was declassified in 2009. So on top of being illegal, unethical and immoral, it was also false.”To Kiriakou, the supreme court’s ease with the word “torture” 14 years after he used it for the first time on network television is “vindication that it was wrong”. He said he was dismayed that the CIA continues to cover up its “barbaric crimes” by resisting release of the full Senate report, likening the study to the defense department’s internal account of the Vietnam war that changed the course of history when it was leaked in 1971.“We knew a lot about what was happening in Vietnam but we didn’t have official government confirmation until Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers. It’s the same here. We have had some testimony from torture victims but we don’t have official confirmation of what the CIA did from the CIA itself, and that’s what release of this report would do.”The lies to which Kiriakou fell foul were intrinsic to the torture program from its inception. Zubaydah was used as the prototype for a new type of “enhanced interrogation” that crossed the line into torture.CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation’Read moreIn April 2002 a pair of psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were brought on board by the CIA on contract to create the program. They based the plan partly on experiments on dogs that found if you hurt and humiliated the animals sufficiently, eventually they would stop resisting – “learned helplessness” as it was known in the trade. (At least in this regard the torture program proved successful – Zubaydah did reach such a place of helplessness. It got to the point that as soon as an interrogator snapped his fingers twice, the detainee would lie flat on the waterboard and wait supinely for the controlled drowning to begin.)The psychologists, whom the CIA paid more than $80m for their efforts, consciously modeled their interrogation methods on the so-called SERE training of American soldiers on how to resist torture were they to fall into enemy hands. The contractors openly adopted the enemy torture techniques, without irony, despite the fact that the methods were designed to extract propaganda statements from US prisoners of war and not accurate intelligence.Senior CIA officials knew that they faced an uphill battle in persuading the Department of Justice that what they planned to do was legal – after all torture was categorically prohibited under the 1949 Geneva Conventions that the US had ratified. So they presented the DoJ with a “psychological assessment” of Zubaydah justifying why he needed to be made to talk using aggressive interrogation methods, warning that “​countless more Americans may die unless we can persuade Zubaydah to tell us what he knows”.It was all a smorgasbord of lies. “The reasons they gave for why he had to be tortured were false and known to be false,” Denbeaux said.“The justice department was duped into approving the torture of a man who was never a member of al-Qaida. They said he was number two, three or four of al-Qaida – not true. They said he was part of 9/11 – laughable and not true. They said he was part of all al-Qaida operations around the world – totally untrue.”Denbeaux added that one of the most urgent arguments in favour of releasing the full Senate report was that it would expose the lies at the core of the program. “It would show in detail how the falsity was made up, and who in the CIA put these false facts together.”Zubaydah’s psychological profile was not the only aspect of the untruths that formed the building blocks of the torture program. The CIA was also misleading about the efficacy of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.Ali Soufan has personal knowledge of how distorted the official CIA account was. A former FBI special agent, he was one of the first US officials to interrogate Zubaydah at a black site.He did so using conventional interrogation methods that would be familiar to students of Law & Order. He learned everything he could about his subject, spoke in the prisoner’s own language (Arabic), built up a rapport with Zubaydah, and played mind games on him such as giving him the impression that the FBI knew much more about his activities than in fact they did.All without recourse to force, violence or humiliation. “We did not need torture to get information,” Soufan told the Guardian.Soufan and his FBI partner succeeded in securing Zubaydah’s cooperation and extracting significant intelligence from the prisoner, including the central role played by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the architect of 9/11. Even so, they were abruptly pulled off the job and replaced by the CIA contractors armed with a very different approach.Soufan watched aghast as CIA operatives, under the instruction of Mitchell and Jessen, began to torture the prisoner. “At the beginning it was mostly loud music,” Soufan said. “He was held naked in the cell. That shocked me at the time. It was stupid, why are we doing it, the guy is already giving information. And then it evolved, one step after another.”Starting at 11.50am on 4 August 2002, Zubaydah was tortured through a variety of methods, almost 24 hours a day, for 19 days without break. After a waterboarding session he was noted to have “involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms” and to be unable to communicate. On one occasion he became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”.Given Zubaydah’s incommunicado status, he has never been allowed to recount his experiences directly to the American people. But over the years his lawyers have managed to put together notes in which the Guantánamo detainee describes his abuse.Excerpts of those notes, together with some of Zubaydah’s drawings that he sketched from memory in Guantánamo that illustrate his treatment at the CIA black sites, are being published by the Guardian. They amount to a harrowing account in Zubaydah’s own words and images of the relentless, round-the-clock, prolonged and illegal abuse he suffered.Soufan, who is now CEO of the Soufan Group, said the release of the full Senate report is essential to counter the CIA narrative, which he fears that too many Americans still believe – that torture works. “Most of the American public believe the Hollywood version: you beat someone up, they give you the information you want, you save lives.”Soufan added: “Release the full Senate report and you will see that the CIA shaped a false narrative. The torture did not work, it did not produce information that saved lives, it did hinder our counterterrorism operations and destroy our image and reputation around the world.”Soufan’s own experiences give some hope that the full Senate report might one day be made public. When his book on the war of terror, The Black Banners, was published in 2011 it was so heavily redacted by the CIA that he even had to black out any reference to himself including the words “I”, “me”, “our” and “we”.It took him a legal battle lasting nine years, but in 2020 he was finally able to bring out a declassified edition. Soufan hopes that the softening attitude of CIA chiefs towards his book bodes well for an eventual release of the Senate report.“The CIA is now a very different organization from what it was in 2002. The people who were directly involved in the torture program, they are all out and there is a new leadership who understand the impact of all this.”Kiriakou is more pessimistic about a CIA change of heart: “For the next 100 years the CIA will do anything it can to stop that report being made public.”The Guardian asked the CIA whether it had plans to revisit the question of whether the report could be published, and invited the agency to comment. It did not immediately respond.For all the uncertainty about the CIA’s intentions, calls for release of the full Senate report are growing. Prasow said that the US will find it all but impossible to close Guantánamo without grappling with the torture issue first.“The public has been sold a false story that torture victims were somehow less deserving of human rights protections. For far too long it’s been too easy to see torture victims as ‘other’. It’s time to bring them out into the light.”Denbeaux, Zubaydah’s lawyer, said that releasing the report would help fill in some of the void that was left in 2005 when the CIA destroyed videotapes of the torture of Zubaydah. “In the absence of the destroyed footage, the full Senate report would bring home to the American people the cumulative horror of how the torture worked, day after day, hour after hour, continuously, endlessly. This was a hideous awful thing, and they’d like us to forget about it?”Jones, the report’s chief author, said that were it to emerge in its totality it would “shut the book and remove any lingering doubts” – about the torture, about its ineffectiveness, and about the lies that were told. “There are so many examples in it of the CIA misleading Congress, the White House, the public.”Among the items still waiting to be revealed is a photograph that has never been made public that Jones and his team discovered of a waterboard that was stored at the notorious “Salt Pit”, a black site outside Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. The device appeared extremely well used, and in the photo it is seen surrounded by buckets of water and bottles of a peculiar pink solution.The photograph puzzled Jones and his team of investigators because there were no official records to indicate that waterboarding had ever been practiced at the Salt Pit. When the Senate team asked the CIA to explain the photograph, the agency said it had no answer.In the last analysis, Jones said that it all points to a massive failure of accountability – a failure that until the full report is made public will continue to gnaw away at the nation’s standing and self-respect. “We’ve failed at every level of accountability – criminal, civil and societal,” he said. “If this is never to happen again, there has to be a reckoning.”TopicsCIATortureSeptember 11 2001CIA torture reportGuantánamo BayUS politicsAl-QaidanewsReuse this content More

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    Nancy Pelosi says US Capitol attack like 9/11 but an assault from within – video

    Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker of the US Congress, has likened the 6 January attack to 9/11, saying one had been an assault on US democracy from within and the other from the outside. Speaking at a Chatham House seminar in London on Friday, she also claimed the Republicans had been hijacked by a cult that believed neither in science nor government, making it hard for the US to be governed

    US Capitol attack like 9/11 but an assault from within, says Pelosi More

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    US Capitol attack like 9/11 but an assault from within, says Pelosi

    Nancy PelosiUS Capitol attack like 9/11 but an assault from within, says PelosiHouse speaker makes remarks at Chatham House seminar in London a day after meeting Boris Johnson02:52Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editorFri 17 Sep 2021 09.11 EDTLast modified on Fri 17 Sep 2021 11.02 EDTNancy Pelosi, the House speaker of the US Congress, has likened the 6 January insurrection fomented by Donald Trump to 9/11, saying one had been an assault on US democracy from within and the other from the outside.She also claimed the Republicans had been hijacked by a cult that believed neither in science or government, making it hard for the US to be governed.Her remarks, made at a Chatham House seminar in London on Friday, arguably breach the semi-honoured rule for domestic political disputes to end at America’s water’s edge.Pelosi a strong defender of the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement, repeated her warning of two years ago that anything that imperilled the agreement could mean the US Congress would not ratify a free trade deal with the UK.She was speaking at Chatham House the day after meeting Boris Johnson in Downing Street.She said the prime minister had given her some reading material and that she would cross-examine him on the details when they met again in Washington next week.Johnson is due to travel to the US with Liz Truss, the new UK foreign secretary, prior to the UN general assembly.“This is not said as any threat,” Pelosi insisted. “It is a prediction. If there is destruction of the Good Friday accords we’re very unlikely to have a UK-US bilateral [trade deal].”The bulk of her remarks were concerned with the collapse of bipartisanship within the US, and the implications for its relationships as an ally with other countries.The 6 January demonstration, she said, was an insurrection incited by Trump, and added that it “was an assault on Congress, constitution and our democracy. How we deal with it is really the measure of the strength of our democracy.”She also challenged Republican senators for rejecting the congressional commission into the Capitol attack, asking: “Why do they reject finding the truth of what happened in January? Is it because they had some sympathy for the cause?”She compared the 6 January protest with 9/11, saying while the attack in 2001 had been an “assault from outside”, the Capitol attack was an “assault from within”.“Horrible in both cases. What had happened to our democracy on 6 January was horrible,” she said.Although Trump did not create the problems on 6 January, she continued, “he galvanised them” with the help of social media, especially Facebook. She ironically thanked Facebook for hosting 2 million followers of the conspiracy theory QAnon on its site and said social media was a blessing, but a double-edged sword.The roots of American populism lay in fears of globalisation, automation and immigration, and was expressed through Islamophobia, antisemitism and ideas of white supremacy, she said.She added: “I would say to my Republican friends – and I do have some – take back your party, the Republican party. The Grand Old Party has made tremendous contributions to our country founded by Lincoln. Don’t let your party be hijacked by a cult – essentially, that is what is happening.“This is not conservative. This is radical rightwing, off the spectrum, anti-governance and if you are anti-governance it is very difficult to govern.“If you are in denial about climate change, if you don’t believe the science and data and won’t respond to the data, that is a problem.”She admitted the Democrats “have a big fight on our hands whether it is in the states or nationally”. She also admitted some of the alienation was caused by inequality.“In America, capitalism is our system, it is our economic system, but it has not served our economy as well as it should. So what we want to do is not depart from that, but to improve it.“You cannot have a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers and springs from the exploitation of the environment and the rest, and we have to correct that.”TopicsNancy PelosiUS Capitol attackSeptember 11 2001US politicsRepublicansDemocratsnewsReuse this content More

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    George W. Bush 2021, Meet George W. Bush 2001

    You can draw a straight line from the “war on terror” to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, from the state of exception that gave us mass surveillance, indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition and “enhanced interrogation” to the insurrectionist conviction that the only way to save America is to subvert it.Or, as the journalist Spencer Ackerman writes in “Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump,” “A war that never defined its enemy became an opportunity for the so-called MAGA coalition of white Americans to merge their grievances in an atmosphere of righteous emergency.” That impulse, he continues, “unlocked a panoply of authoritarian possibilities that extended far beyond the War on Terror, from stealing children to inciting a violent mob that attempted to overturn a presidential election.”The “war on terror” eroded the institutions of American democracy and fed our most reactionary impulses. It set the stage for a new political movement with an old idea: that some Americans belong and some don’t; that some are “real” and some are not; that the people who are entitled to rule are a narrow, exclusive group.It is with all of this in mind that I found it galling to watch George W. Bush speak on Saturday.The former president helped commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 with a speech in Shanksville, Pa., at a memorial service for the victims of Flight 93. He eulogized the dead, praised the heroism of the passengers and crew, and hailed the unity of the American people in the weeks and months after the attacks. He also spoke to recent events, condemning extremists and extremism at home and abroad.“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”From there, Bush voiced his dismay at the stark polarization and rigid partisanship of modern American politics. “A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures,” he said. “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”Bush spoke as if he were just an observer, a concerned elder statesman who fears for the future of his country. But that’s nonsense. Bush was an active participant in the politics he now bemoans.In 2002, Bush said that the Senate, then controlled by Democrats, was “not interested in the security of the American people.” In 2004, he made his opposition to same-sex marriage a centerpiece of his campaign, weaponizing anti-gay prejudice to mobilize his conservative supporters. Ahead of the 2006 midterm elections, he denounced the Democratic Party as “soft” on terrorism and unable to defend the United States.And this is to say nothing of his allies in the conservative media, who treated disagreement over his wars and counterterrorism policies as tantamount to treason. Nor did his Republican Party hesitate to smear critics as disloyal or worse. “Some people are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists,” stated the Republican National Committee’s first ad of the 2004 presidential election.Bush was noteworthy for the partisanship of his White House and the ruthlessness of his political tactics, for using the politics of fear to pound his opponents into submission. For turning, as he put it on Saturday, “every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures.”Bush won some praise on Saturday. A typical response came from Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian and frequent fixture of cable news, who said it was an “important speech.”It is frankly maddening to see anyone treat the former president as if he has the moral authority to speak on extremism, division and the crises facing our democracy. His critique of the Trump movement is not wrong, but it is fatally undermined by his own conduct in office.In his eight years as president, George W. Bush launched two destructive wars (including one on the basis of outright lies), embraced torture, radically expanded the power of the national security state and defended all of it by dividing the public into two camps. You were either with him or you were against him.As much as he has been rehabilitated in the eyes of many Americans — as much as his defenders might want to separate him and his administration from Donald Trump — the truth is that Bush is one of the leading architects of our present crisis. We may not be able to hold him accountable, but we certainly shouldn’t forget his starring role in making this country more damaged and dysfunctional than it ought to be.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    Michael Bloomberg: Cómo la ciudad de Nueva York puede recuperarse de nuevo

    El futuro de la ciudad de Nueva York está en duda. Los barrios perdieron habitantes que se han mudado a los suburbios. Se han cerrado negocios. La gente está preocupada por la seguridad pública. Las familias lloran la pérdida de sus seres queridos.Ese era el panorama en el otoño de 2001, después de que los terroristas destruyeron el World Trade Center y pusieron a la ciudad de rodillas. Y es el mismo panorama actual, con una pandemia que ha causado estragos y millones de personas que se preguntan una vez más si los días de gloria de esta ciudad son cosa del pasado.El desempleo sigue siendo de dos dígitos, la desocupación de comercios y oficinas se ha disparado y el sector turístico está en una situación desesperada, pero las adversidades económicas son más agudas para las familias de bajos ingresos. Sin embargo, tenemos buenas razones para albergar esperanza, porque lo que se hizo una vez puede volver a hacerse, y mejor, si se tienen en cuenta las lecciones del pasado.Durante los últimos ocho años, he tratado de cumplir mi promesa de no hacer comentarios sobre la gestión de mi sucesor. Los alcaldes no necesitan que sus predecesores intervengan desde la barrera y no tengo intención de empezar ahora. Pero creo que el éxito de la ciudad de Nueva York en la reconstrucción del Bajo Manhattan tras el 11 de septiembre y en la revitalización de los cinco distritos puede ayudar al próximo alcalde cuando tome posesión de su cargo en enero y se enfrente a los dos de los mismos retos generales a los que nos enfrentamos hace 20 años.El primero es urgente: mejorar los servicios vitales de los que dependen los neoyorquinos todos los días, como la vigilancia policial, el transporte, la salubridad y la educación. En los meses posteriores al 11 de septiembre, éramos muy conscientes de que los ciudadanos necesitaban tener confianza en que no permitiríamos que la ciudad entrara en una espiral descendente, como ocurrió en la década de 1970, por lo que nos concentramos de inmediato en mejorar la calidad de vida haciendo que los vecindarios fueran más seguros y limpios, recuperando las escuelas públicas y reduciendo la cantidad de indigentes.Para mantener a los residentes y a las empresas en la ciudad, el próximo gobierno debe implementar programas y políticas que refuercen esos mismos servicios básicos desde el inicio. Los fondos serán escasos, pero manejables; el déficit de ingresos al que nos enfrentamos era más de tres veces mayor, en términos de porcentaje del presupuesto, que el que se prevé que herede el próximo alcalde.El segundo gran reto es más difícil y de manera inevitable está en conflicto con el primero: centrarse en el futuro no inmediato de la ciudad. En última instancia, el alcalde será juzgado no por las noticias del día siguiente, sino por la próxima generación. Su trabajo consiste en mirar más allá de la luz al final del túnel y empezar a construir más vías, aun cuando sea impopular hacerlo.Me vienen a la mente dos ejemplos del Bajo Manhattan.Poco después de haber tomado pposesión como alcalde, cancelé un subsidio planeado para la nueva sede de la Bolsa de Nueva York a pesar de que ésta amenazaba con abandonar la ciudad. No me pareció que ese fuera un uso inteligente de los escasos recursos, pero la perspectiva de que la Bolsa abandonara Wall Street hizo temer que otras grandes instituciones financieras también se marcharan, más aún con gran parte del Bajo Manhattan en ruinas.Lo más fácil y políticamente seguro era no tocar el subsidio. Pero durante décadas, la ciudad había dependido en exceso de la industria bancaria y de servicios financieros. Se decía que cuando Wall Street se estornudaba, la ciudad se resfriaba. Así que en lugar de sobornar a las grandes empresas para que se quedaran en Manhattan, invertimos en proyectos en todos los distritos que atrajeran a nuevas compañías de diferentes sectores, como la biociencia, la tecnología y el cine y la televisión. Años después, estas y otras industrias —y los trabajos e ingresos que generaron— nos ayudaron a sortear la Gran Recesión mucho mejor que la mayoría de las ciudades.El próximo gobierno tal vez se enfrente a exigencias similares de subsidios de empresas que amenacen con abandonar la ciudad. Pero hay mejores formas de retener y crear puestos de trabajo que las dádivas, sobre todo si se invierte en infraestructura fundamental, empezando por el metro..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}En colaboración con el estado, el alcalde puede trabajar para que los trenes vuelvan a tener horarios completos, lo que ayudaría a los empresarios de todos los sectores a recuperar a sus trabajadores y a miles de pequeñas empresas y sus empleados a recuperar a sus clientes. Además, daría confianza a quienes estén pensando en abrir un negocio propio.Sea cual sea la política que adopte el próximo alcalde, la idea fundamental es que para que una ciudad se recupere económicamente es necesario algo más que ayudar a las empresas existentes. Es necesario crear las condiciones para que otros negocios abran y se expandan, a fin de diversificar aún más la economía.El segundo ejemplo del Bajo Manhattan tiene que ver con la vivienda. Tras los atentados, muchos querían convertir todo el World Trade Center en un monumento conmemorativo o simplemente reconstruir lo que había antes. Me pareció que ambas cosas serían un error y recibí fuertes críticas por sugerir que se construyeran viviendas en el lugar. Sin embargo, nuestro gobierno quería que el Bajo Manhattan dejara de ser un distrito comercial con movimiento solo de 9 a 5 y se convirtiera en un barrio diverso y abierto las 24 horas del día.Los líderes de la ciudad llevaban intentando hacerlo desde la década de 1950, pero habían centrado su atención en el desarrollo de edificios, incluido el World Trade Center original, en lugar de atraer a la gente. Nosotros le dimos la vuelta al guion al fomentar el desarrollo de nuevas viviendas y generar aquello que todos los residentes quieren: parques, escuelas y oportunidades culturales, incluido un centro de artes escénicas en el World Trade Center, cuya construcción está a punto de finalizar.A medida que nuestra visión tomaba forma, más familias y jóvenes se mudaron al centro, abrieron más negocios, se crearon más empleos y llegaron más visitantes. El último lugar de desarrollo del World Trade Center será una torre que tendrá más de mil unidades de vivienda.El próximo gobierno tendrá sus propias oportunidades no solo para recuperarse de la pandemia, sino para reimaginar zonas de la ciudad. Por supuesto, nunca es fácil enfrentarse a grupos ruidosos y poderosos que claman: “No en mi patio trasero”. Pero a lo largo y ancho de Nueva York hay estacionamientos, almacenes, playas de maniobras y otras propiedades que ofrecen al próximo alcalde oportunidades de crear viviendas para todos los ingresos y empleos para todos tipo de habilidades.Estos proyectos requieren ambición y valor político. Como candidato, Eric Adams ha demostrado ambas cosas. Por eso lo apoyo en las elecciones a la alcaldía de este otoño. Su pragmatismo y disposición a enfrentar asuntos difíciles, al igual que la comprensión de la importancia de la seguridad pública que le dio su experiencia como policía, le serán de gran utilidad en el Ayuntamiento. Y espero que Bloomberg Philanthropies tenga la oportunidad de apoyar su gobierno, porque este es un momento en el que todos tenemos que poner manos a la obra.En el gobierno, la colaboración es tan importante como la competencia, y la reconstrucción del World Trade Center, que incluyó la creación de un monumento nacional y museo en memoria del 11 de septiembre, demostró lo crucial que son las asociaciones sólidas para volver realidad una visión. El trabajo conjunto con nueve gobernadores de Nueva York y Nueva Jersey nos permitió construir el monumento y el museo para que fueran un poderoso tributo a los que perdimos y para enseñar a las generaciones futuras el extraordinario heroísmo y los sacrificios que inspiraron y unieron al mundo.Hubo tensiones y obstáculos, por supuesto. Pero es fundamental que haya una buena relación de trabajo entre el alcalde y el gobernador para que los grandes proyectos tengan éxito.Ahora, incluso antes de tomar posesión del cargo, Adams tiene la oportunidad de empezar a establecer una estrecha relación con la nueva gobernadora del estado, Kathy Hochul. No siempre estarán de acuerdo, pero necesitamos que trabajen juntos.Al caer la noche del 11 de septiembre de 2001, era difícil imaginar que la ciudad pudiera recuperarse con la rapidez y la fuerza con que lo hizo. Pero al unirnos, pensar con creatividad, planear con ambición y trabajar enfocados en una visión clara del futuro —fiel a los valores de nuestra ciudad, entre ellos acoger a los inmigrantes y refugiados—, dimos inicio a un periodo de renacimiento y renovación nunca antes visto en la historia.Ahora, podemos volver a hacerlo. Si tenemos en cuenta las lecciones del pasado, sé que lo lograremos.Michael R. Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) fue alcalde de la ciudad de Nueva York de 2002 a 2013. Es presidente del Museo y Monumento Nacional del 11 de septiembre desde 2006. More