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Abbas Censors Truth

  Abbas Censors Truth

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel notoriously censors truth. Military censorship bans or sanitizes material potentially harming Israel's security. Media/government agreements comply.

 

Talk Nation Radio: Medea Benjamin on Drone Wars and This Weekend's Upcoming Drone Summit

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and of CodePink: Women for Peace.  She is the author of the new book "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control" and an organizer of the Drone Summit being planned in Washington, D.C., on April 28-29 by groups including Code Pink, Reprieve, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Medea discusses her books, the summit, and what can be done and is being done to oppose drone wars.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.

Producer: David Swanson.

Engineer: Christiane Brown.

Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or Radio4All or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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TSA targets disabled 7-year-old, causes family to miss flight

The hits just keep on coming. Not content to abuse a few children here and there, the TSA continues its winning streak by singling out a 7-year-old girl in leg braces, a girl who's developmentally disabled, to boot. And not only do they scream at her family and terrify her at the checkpoint, they confront her again the gate, and demand that she return to the checkpoint for further humiliation.

What a Real Peace Candidate Looks Like

I recently wrote about a conversation I'd had with a fairly typical Democratic candidate for Congress (O.K. perhaps he was below average) -- a former military officer who claims to be for peace, but whose every solution involves war.  I asked him to make commitments on what sort of things he would vote for or against, and he evaded every such question, while maintaining that he held a desire for peace somewhere in his heart.

The suspicion might arise in a reasonable reader that candidates simply don't make commitments and perhaps shouldn't.  Every situation is unique.  Candidates can't know the details of a future bill or the context in which it might be brought to a vote.  They can simply tell you what values they hold dear, what accomplishments grace their resumes, and how utterly worthless their opponents are.  More than that one should not ask.

Preventing Peace to Wage War

  Preventing Peace to Wage War

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Obama plans more wars. The peace candidate can't get enough of them. Hawkishness defines his agenda. So does belligerently transforming independent regimes into client ones. 

 

NGOs Promote Wars for Profit

  NGOs Promote Wars for Profit

 

by Stephen Lendman 

 

Like better known war profiteers, NGOs also cash in. A Centre for the Study of Interventionism (CSI) report discussed it.

 

Obama’s New “Atrocity Prevention Board”: Reasons for Skepticism

An e-mail from the “Peace Alliance” breathlessly announced:

BIG NEWS: President Obama Unveils Peacebuilding Board. This Monday, April 23rd, the peacebuilding community will mark a historic milestone. President Obama will speak at the US Holocaust Museum on Monday to unveil the Atrocity Prevention Board, a high-level board within the National Security Council, which will greatly enhance our country’s capacity to make peacebuilding a priority.

SEVEN ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT MILITARY BASE IN WISCONSIN IN ACTION AGAINST DRONE WARFARE

Seven citizen activists were arrested for calling for an end to drone warfare at Camp Williams/Volk Field in Wisconsin on Tuesday April 24.  They are joining together with activists in New York, Nevada, California, Missouri, Illinois, and Maryland who are risking arrest in actions as they raise their voices to draw attention to the travesty and illegality of drone warfare.

Camp Williams/Volk Field, a training site for drone pilots, is located in rural central Wisconsin.  As families in Wisconsin are struggling to make ends meet, there are plans underway to build an $8 million drone training facility at the base, using both state and federal money. 

Who’s Blocking Drone Protest at Hancock AFB

Hancock Drone Protesters

33 people were grabbed by county sheriffs on April 22, a few blocks from the main gate of Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse NY.  Faster than you can say “parading without a permit,” people at the front of a single file, silent march along a mostly deserted suburban road, were cuffed and stuffed into police cruisers.  Others were arrested standing near the gate of the base, where people do a protest vigil every two weeks, because pilots based at Hancock control drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) over the skies of Afghanistan, and perhaps over other countries in the region.

Media Scoundrels Promote War on Syria

  Media Scoundrels Promote War on Syria

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Syria's a battle zone. Western generated violence is to blame, not Assad. America's media scoundrels claim otherwise. They want him ousted by any means, including war.

 

Grand Prix State Terror

  Grand Prix State Terror

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Perhaps Bahrain April 22 was a first. Imagine a sporting event featuring state-sponsored terror and blood in the streets. 

 

Imagine one with race drivers and event organizers mindless of raging crimes against humanity nearby.

AP: U.S. Soldiers Promised Massacre, Including Children, Days Before Bales' Alleged Rampage

This article is an update to previous "MSNBC: Evidence of Multiple Shooters, Night Raid in Sgt. Bales Case"

In a striking omission to mainstream coverage of the Afghan massacre which took the lives of 17 Afghans including many children, one as young as two, the AP has reported that US soldiers came to their villages after a roadside bombing two days before and promised retaliation.   The Pentagon has denied that any bombing took place, putting it in direct contradiction to the attorney for Sgt. Robert Bales, who alone is being accused of the rampage.

AP said on March 23d:

Occupy The Justice Department Challenges Obama Administration Integrity on Prosecutor Misconduct Issue

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

One of the issues driving protesters participating in the April 24, 2012 Occupy The Justice Department demonstration is an issue that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knows well: prosecutorial misconduct.

Holder knows this misconduct issue well because he has criticized it during congressional testimony, in fact as recently as March 2012 when he was commenting on a special prosecutor’s report castigating the wrongdoing of federal prosecutors.

That wrongdoing, Holder acknowledged, unlawfully tainted the corruption investigation and 2008 trial of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in his home state of Alaska.

Text of AP Story on Afghanistan Agreement Translated into Human

"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. and Afghanistan reached a deal Sunday on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond 2014, the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw."

Marwan Barghouti: Suspect Accusations After the Fact

  Marwan Barghouti: Suspect Accusations After the Fact

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Barghouti's a political prisoner. On May 20, 2004, he was wrongfully convicted of involvement in three terrorist attacks killing five people. Acquitted on 33 other charges, he received five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years.

 

What Bradley Manning Means to Us

Chase Madar's new book, The Passion of Bradley Manning, pulls together the essential facts that we should try to somehow deliver to television viewers and victims of our education system.  The subtitle is "The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History."

The book looks at Manning's life story, his alleged action (leaking voluminous materials to Wikileaks), the value of the material he made available to us, the status of whistleblowers in our country, the torture inflicted on Manning during his imprisonment, the similar treatment routinely inflicted on hundreds of thousands of U.S. prisoners without the same scandal resulting, and the value of running a society in accordance with written laws.

The table of contents sounds predictable, but the most valuable parts of Madar's book are the tangents, the riffs, the expansions on questions such as whether knowing the truth does or does not tend to set us free.  Does learning what our government is up to help to improve our government's behavior?  Has the rule of law become an empty phrase or worse?  Who is standing up for Bradley Manning, and who should be?

Madar does not pretend indifference to the fact that Manning took great risk and has greatly suffered for blowing the whistle on countless criminal and immoral actions.  The first sentence of the book is "Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom," as of course he does -- unless that medal is now too tarnished by its actual recipients including George Tenet and L. Paul Bremer.  Madar remarks:

"Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have an image of how Washington operates in the world.  Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War.  We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation.  We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."

Of course, such examples could be extended for many pages.  Manning's is indeed the largest revelation of our government's behavior we have had.  His is the Louisiana Purchase of whistleblowing.  And, of course, if you are going to have a government of, by, and for the people, then the people have to find out what that government is doing -- and stop believing they are better off and more patriotic not knowing.

Madar does not hesitate to point out the situation we are in at the moment in presidential and partisan terms:

"President Obama came into office promising a 'sunshine' policy for his administration while singing praises of whistleblowers.  Instead, he has launched the fiercest campaign against whistleblowers the republic has ever seen, and dragged our foreign policy deeper into the shadows. . . ."

". . . As soon as he stepped into the Oval Office, the new President pledged never to launch any probe, much less prosecution, to hold these figures responsible.  'Look forward, not backward' is the slogan: any rules that threaten the high and mighty can be shrugged off.  Obama loyalists such as Nation magazine columnist Melissa Harris-Perry begged Americans to reconcile with Dick Cheney, as if the power to forgive belonged to Americans, and not to Iraqi victims -- a perversion of Christian doctrine that allows the perpetrators to tearfully forgive themselves."

(Just ask Sibel Edmonds how whistleblowers are being treated today.  Her new book "Classified Woman" about her days at the FBI has been submitted to the FBI for censorship, the FBI has been unable to find a single word to black out, and yet the FBI is refusing to permit publication of the entire book.)

Manning's contribution has been global.  His revelations have benefitted the people of numerous nations with which the State Department communicated in the cables that Manning is said to have leaked.  The Arab Spring was not caused by Bradley Manning, but the information he made public has played a major role. 

Madar does an excellent job of relating what he has been able to learn about Manning's childhood.  Here was a young man with principles and independence, who partially believed the hype about wars being good for the world, who was horribly abused by the U.S. military, but whose motivation -- even if I suspect as well some retaliation against his abusers -- was primarily almost certainly benefitting the public at large, both at home and abroad.  Manning says so quite clearly and repeatedly in as-yet-unverified chat logs.  It was when the military forced him to take part in punishing Iraqi whistleblowers that Manning had a major change of perspective.  "I was actively involved in something that I was completely against," he posted in a chat.

Manning is not only the whistleblower who has told us the most, and the whistleblower who may suffer the most for his heroism, but also the whistleblower who revealed crimes and abuses that were also known by or knowable by the greatest number of other people -- all of whom chose to remain silent.  Some three million Americans have a security clearance.  Most of what Manning released was "confidential," six percent was "secret," and none of it was "top secret."  In the world of whistleblowers, normal is abnormal.  The common sense duty to "say something" is you see something makes you a freak.  And never more so than in the heroism and vilification of young Bradley Manning.

One comment in Madar's excellent book strikes me as out of place, as perhaps inserted by an editor:

"Few are the American intellectuals who unequivocally defend the leaks: Michael Moore, Jesse Ventura, and CodePink's core of leftwing peace activists -- and that's about it."

Are those all intellectuals?  And is that the full list of people who have defended the leaks?  Much later in the book, Glenn Greenwald -- who really deserves great credit for advancing this issue -- gets a mention.  So does Coleen Rowley, with whom I recall protesting Manning's treatment at Quantico, along with hundreds of others.  Then Daniel Ellsberg, Roseanne Barr, Jack Shafer, and Dennis Kucinich get a nod.  Ray McGovern receives a lengthy and well deserved discussion.  We also learn that Manning receives hundreds of letters of support every week from all over the world (some of them are from this country).  We find out that "Free Bradley" signs dot this country's Occupy encampments.  And after the book is over, in the "Further Reading" section at the back, we discover that there is a Bradley Manning Support Network, Kevin Gosztola's blog at FireDogLake, Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, and others who indeed have supported what Manning has been accused of doing.  Not what it should be, of course, but not so terribly few of us after all.

I wonder also about Madar's take on whether knowing the truth is helpful in politics.  Ultimately, of course, Madar is in favor of public knowledge of government's behavior.  But I think he undervalues it a bit at times.  "When does war end?" he quotes Alexander Cockburn asking himself. "One side is annihilated, the money runs out, the troops mutiny, the government falls, or fears it will.  With the U.S. war in Afghanistan none of these conditions has been met." Nor with the U.S. war on Iraq, which has virtually ended nonetheless. 

I also would modify slightly Madar's take on the rule of law.  As Madar sees it, many of the outrages that Manning revealed, even the killings in the "Collateral Murder" video, even the handing over of prisoners to the Iraqi government to torture, were immoral but legal, because the laws of war allow them.  Madar is dealing with jus in bello, laws on the conduct of war, not jus ad bellum, laws on what makes a war or an occupation just to begin with.  In fact there is no just war.  There is no legal war.  Every single war has been illegal since the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928.  The U.N. Charter seeks to legalize wars that are either labeled "defensive" or authorized by the United Nations.  The U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are neither defensive nor authorized by the United Nations.  The U.S. Constitution forbids wars not declared by Congress.  Congress has not declared a war since 1941.

Certainly the law is often unjust and must be nonviolently resisted.  But when we have good legal arguments on our side, we shouldn't always be so reluctant to use them.  If torture can be "legalized" by the vacuous ramblings of John Yoo, if bribery can be "legalized" through the human rights of corporations established by a court reporter's marginalia, why shouldn't we legalize peace by reviving awareness of actual laws actually on the books?

As with most books I review, so must I comment on this one that I wish people would stop lowballing the death count in Iraq by almost an order of magnitude.

I must also strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this book for everyone you know.

Watch for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio with Chase Madar.

Write to Bradley to encourage him at:
Bradley Manning
#89289
JRCF
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth KS 66027-2315.

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

Veterans For Peace Among 33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State

Three members of Veterans For Peace -- Russell Brown, John Amidon, and Elliott Adams -- were among 33 peaceful protesters arrested on Sunday outside Hancock Air Field in New York State.  Almost all of the 33 were arrested preemptively, as they walked single-file and silently along a road, prior to reaching the military base, at which they intended to approach the gate and deliver a written statement.

Here is video of the walk:

And of the arrests:

Here is a news story featuring a photo of Elliott Adams being arrested: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/military_protesters_turned_awa.html

VFP Logo

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones reported that the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department made the arrests in Mattydale, NY, two blocks from the entrance to the base.  "Those arrested included an 87 year old woman in a wheelchair, parents (accompanying their children), a member of the press, and the group's attorney Ron Van Norstrand. Cameras, camcorders and phones were confiscated by the Sheriff's Department." http://blog.upstatedroneaction.org

Elliott Adams is Past President of Veterans For Peace, and current Nonviolent Training Coordinator.  He had also been arrested in 2011 as one of the Hancock 38 protesting at the same base.  Adams commented after this weekend's arrest:

"Once again local law enforcement obstructed me from complying with the Nuremberg principles. As a veteran of several war zones I understand the importance of international law like the Geneva conventions and the remarkable UN Charter. But as I tried to serve an indictment to those committing war crimes I was arrested preemptively.

"As veterans we know how important international laws like the Geneva conventions are. We know that weaponized drones are continuously being used to commit war crimes and even crimes against peace.  The Nuremberg Principles obligate us, as citizens, to stop our government from committing these crimes.  Our arrest on Sunday was a clear case of trampling on our 1st Amendment right to 'petition our government for a redress of grievances.'

"It is outrageous," Adams remarked, "that on the other side of this fence people are being murdered, albeit at long distance, and the Sheriff will not even investigate. On this side of the fence we are arrested for a 'violation of permit requirement.'"

Three women succeeded on Sunday in reading aloud at the base gate an indictment addressed to "the Service Members of Hancock Air Base."  The Indictment states, in part:

"By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes.  We charge the chain of command, from President Barack Obama, to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to every drone crew, to every service member supporting or defending these illegal actions, with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians."
http://warisacrime.org/content/indictment-drone-warriors

Adams' statement, made in court at the trial of the Hancock 38 last November is available online:
http://warisacrime.org/content/elliott-adams-member-hancock-38-and-new-hancock-34-made-statement-trial-november-1-2011

As is his statement at the sentencing hearing:
http://warisacrime.org/content/elliott-adams-sentencing-statement-november-11-2011

Adams told the judge: "I am proud to accept the consequences of my acts and any jail time.  I do not want any suspended sentence. If you give me one, also please let me know how I can violate it before I leave the courtroom."  The judge, however, gave Adams a suspended sentence and probation conditions.  Adams has not ceased protesting drone wars.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

Shaky Economies

  Shaky Economies

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Since 2009, an ocean of easy money saved American, EU, and Japanese economies from collapse.

 

Grand Prix Disgrace

  Grand Prix Disgrace

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On Sunday, April 22, Bahrain's Grand Prix went on as scheduled. This year's grand prize is disgrace, not glory. 

 

MSNBC: Evidence of Multiple Shooters, Night Raid in Sgt. Bales Case

The first story was shaky from the start, that Sgt. Robert Bales "sneaked" off a combat outpost into hostile, landmined territory in the middle of the night, walked north a little over a half mile to a village, engaged in bloody murder, then walked back that half mile, past the base, and another mile south, killed more people, then turned himself in at the gate, all within an hour.  Sharp-eyed bloggers did the math and recalled from other reports that Bales has part of a foot missing from a wound in Iraq, making the feat all the more remarkable.  

Among the dead were a number of children, including a two-year-old.

The Proof is in the 'Puddin': Plays, Prose and Connecting the Dots of Prejudice

 

By Joseph P. Blake

 

I believe that absolutely nothing happens in a vacuum.

There is always a connection between why things happen and the something (or someone) that made it happen. All too frequently that connection is not easily apparent, and that creates problems.

I’m convinced there is a connection between the contemporary television shows like “Axe Men,” “Ice Road Truckers”, “Swamp People”, “Hillbilly Noodling”, "Sarah Palin’s Alaska” and a play entitled, “Puddin’ Head.”

The Department of Theater at Temple University in Philadelphia, staged that play – containing racist content – as its contribution to Black History Month this year.

Rupert watch - signaling the end



Rupert Murdoch's reign over the $33 billion News Corporation hinges on events surrounding the company's ownership share of Britain's dominant pay TV network, BSkyB (Sky). As Business Insider said, "it's the only asset that really matters" in the News Corp collection of media properties.

As a result of Murdoch scandals, News Corp lost the chance to buy 100% of Sky's shares. More troubling for the media monarch, the company may lose the 39% interest it already holds if British regulators determine that Murdoch is not a fit and proper owner. This would fuel the major News Corp shareholder suits in Delaware and New York that seek to remove Murdoch as board chairman and vastly diminish his power and that of his family and cronies.

Sky reaches 25 million viewers in 10 million homes. Revenues are growing at 10% a year with adjusted operating profit growth averaging around 16% of revenues  (see 2009 through 2011). Revenues from 2012 through 2016 should top $70 billion total with adjusted operating profits around $11 billion. What happens with Sky really matters.

Iran War Weekly - April 22, 2012

IranWar Weekly

April 22, 2012

Hello All – Iran war news this week was focused on last weekend’s talks between the P5+1 and Iran.  The P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) reopened talks with Iran, for the first time in 15 months, over Iran’s alleged violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and over Iran’s refusal to obey the UN Security Council Resolutions to halt its uranium enrichment program.

So Much for Putting Your Hope in a Dept of Peace

The group that has been pushing hardest for a Department of Peace is now pushing an Obama strategy that is almost certainly intended to facilitate war:

 

The Peace Alliance

Supporter,

This Monday, April 23rd, the peacebuilding community will mark a historic milestone.

President Obama will speak at the US Holocaust Museum on Monday to unveil the Atrocity Prevention Board, a high-level board within the National Security Council, which will greatly enhance our country’s capacity to make peacebuilding a priority.

Listen to the President’s speech via webcast at 9:45-10:30am ET Monday, live from the Holocaust Museum: www.ushmm.org/prevent.

After the speech our team will visit the White House to celebrate this milestone.  Join us virtually at 1:00pm ET at www.ushmm.org/prevent as Senior Administration officials speak on a White House panel describing the role of the Atrocity Prevention Board.

Years of underinvestment in civilian tools, like diplomacy and development, have hindered the US government’s ability to help prevent atrocities around the globe. Establishment of the interagency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) is an important milestone in developing a comprehensive policy framework to prevent future atrocities.

We are proud to be a part of the Prevention and Protection Working Group, a coalition of peacebuilding organizations that have advocated for this reform.  Over the last seven years The Peace Alliance has called on the Administration to focus on making peacebuilding a priority at the highest-echelons of power. Monday’s announcement is a major development towards making that vision a reality.

Please tune in for the President’s speech on Monday and the following panel discussion to celebrate this historic development.    

-Aaron, Eli, Matt, and the Peace Alliance team

Twitter The Peace Alliance
P.O. Box 27601, Washington, DC 20038 | Phone: 202-684-2553
 

Security Council Authorizes 300 Syrian Monitors

  Security Council Authorizes 300 Syrian Monitors

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On April 21, the Security Council unanimously adopted a Russian/EU resolution. It calls for deploying up to 300 unarmed military Syrian observers for three months.

 

Protesting for Justice in Bahrain

  Protesting for Justice in Bahrain

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Long-suffering Bahrainis want democratic change. In response, Al Khalifa security forces attack them. 

 

Washington turns a blind eye. So did Formula One's governing body. On April 22, Bahrain's Grand Prix goes on as planned. Protesters call it "blood on the track." 

How Dare Russia

"Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier -- than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court.  You are merely planting cynicism in their souls." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged.  Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower.  In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you.  And not just I.  NPR will tell you.  This calls for action.  There's a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House.  The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. 

Who wouldn't support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress. 

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture.  Bush's torture program tortured numerous people to death.  And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It's Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else -- certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of "State Secrets" beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability.  Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.  Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes.  Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role.  But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power. 

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won't stand for it.  Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia.  It's a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home.  Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder.  The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones. 

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it. 

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes.  Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law.  And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action.  U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

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