American Humanist Association Awards World Can't Wait Director Debra Sweet
Hello to all the new friends we made at the American Humanist Association conference in New Orleans, especially to the Feminist Caucus who named me "humanist heroine." The AHA came out publicly last week for "restraint" against attacking Iran, and I believe it's one of the few national organizations to do so.
Video from the American Humanist Association Awards Banquet
They also honored Jessica Ahlquist and Damon Fowler, high school students who challenged prayer in their public schools. Jessica received hundreds of death threats - presumably from people who pray at night - and Damon was driven from his home in addition to harrowing public threats. Support for youth who speak out and act is critical so that others join them. Thanks AHA!
I was joined by Bill Quigley, whom I met when he was Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in presenting at a panel we called
We Can't Be Silent: Ten Years of the War on Terror Needs to Stop (see video).
Bill delivered an indictment of the Obama administration's continuing indefinite detention in Guantánamo and Bagram. After a showing of the video of Ethan McCord speaking about the Collateral Murder incident in Bagdad, we had a full room of folks wrangling with why the US government is waging this illegitimate "war on terror." One Vietnam veteran asked, "I can't in good conscience vote for Obama now, and I can't vote for Romney. What can we do?"
Photo: Andy Worthington
And this was 2 days before the US Supreme Court rejected all avenues for Guantánamo prisoners and others to challenge their indefinite detention through U.S. courts. Monday, without comment, the Court refused to take any of the appeals from 7 of the 169 prisoners still held.
Andy Worthington, interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now, says, "For the last two years no prisoners have had their habeas petitions granted, as the right-wing judges of the D.C. Circuit Court have intervened to prevent any prisoners from being released by demanding that the shockingly unreliable evidence put forward by the government — which the District Court judges had been challenging in an appropriate manner — should be regarded as accurate."
In a related decision, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision in the case of José Padilla, who was suing the government for torturing him while holding him as an "enemy combatant" citizen for years, early in the Bush regime's global war on terror. Wired magazine reports in Supreme Court Rejects ‘Dirty Bomber’ Case:
Padilla claims high-ranking Defense Department officials and others are liable for developing “the global detention and interrogation policies” that paved the way for his torture while he was secretly held without charges at a Navy brig in South Carolina for more than three years.
Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Padilla, said the high court’s move gives the government a blank check “to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of an American citizen in an American prison.”
In sum, you can't sue the U.S. government for torture. Padilla can't sue John Yoo who wrote the memo justifying the torture, and no one, from the private contractors, psychologists, CIA officers, up into the administrations of 2 successive presidents, can be held accountable... or even, really investigated.