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Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama has the chance to make good on real change in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington on May 18, for his first official visit with President Obama. If President Obama is serious about achieving a two-state solution in his first term, and therefore serious about bringing real pressure to bear on Israel, there will be no better time to do so. *
Obama, who has strongly supported the idea of a two-state solution since his campaign, has yet to articulate whether or not he is actually prepared to spend some of his massive political capital to exert serious pressure on Israel towards that end – for example by conditioning (even some) of the currently committed $30 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel, on a complete Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank. If he means it, this could be the moment. Netanyahu’s campaign rejection of the two-state solution, his rejection of continuing the current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and instead limiting negotiations to economic issues, and his extreme racist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman all serve to make a serious U.S. effort towards Israeli accountability not only timely, but less politically costly than ever.
Twitter Activism: A Special Prosecutor Is Who Needs To See The New Torture Pics, And We Need To Keep Demanding One
A Special Prosecutor Is Who Needs To See The New Torture Pics, And We Need To Keep Demanding One
Note: At the bottom of this, you'll find information on how to do Twitter activism on not only this action, but also on a variety of other actions, as well.
The big fuss this week was President Obama's total turnaround on releasing the new torture pictures. Despite stating that they were "not particularly sensational", in the next breath he argued that releasing them would put our troops at greater risk, two statements which when combined make no logical sense.
What's really going on here is that Obama has so far resisted in every possible way his duty under the law to appoint a special prosecutor, despite his affirmation that waterboarding is torture, and the arrogant public confessions of those who ordered that torture. Having underestimated the furor for prosecution that the
Skip first 3/4 of this but don't miss David Waldman forcing CNN to cover the topic of torture for war lies.
According to a report on prisoner abuse prepared for the Department of Defense by James Schlesinger, orders signed by Bush and Rumsfeld in 2002 and 2003 authorizing brutal interrogations “became policy” at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Obama Is Becoming an Accessory after the fact to War Crimes
By Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive
Barack Obama is fast becoming an accessory after the fact to the war crimes that the Bush Administration has committed.
By not prosecuting the torturers and those who ordered the torture, and now by not even going public with the photo tortures he’d already agreed to release, Obama is doing Dick Cheney’s business for him.
Cheney’s been telling every news outlet that will have him on that a) we didn’t torture or do anything wrong and that b) everything we did was necessary to keep us safe.
The photos of our brutality that are in Obama’s possession could disprove these points in a hurry.
But now Obama, like Cheney, wants to hide the evidence.
MI5 and MI6 face 29 new allegations of torture in foreign prisons
By Duncan Gardham | Telegraph UK
A campaign group representing prisoners detained for terrorism has compiled reports from a large number of detainees and former detainees who claim that the security and intelligence services were aware of their torture and mistreatment and did nothing to stop it.
The Politics of Excusing Torture In The Name of National Security
By John W. Dean | Find Law
I would encourage those who are demanding exposure and prosecution to keep pounding their drums. Clearly, they are on the right side of this issue, and Obama knows it. While he is going to placate the national security bureaucrats from time to time in order to lead them effectively, hopefully the pressure for him to deal with the atrocious behavior of Bush and Cheney is only just getting started.
When doctors started reporting that some of the victims of the US bombing of several villages in Farah Province last week—an attack that left between 117 and 147 civilians dead, most of them women and children—were turning up with deep, sharp burns on their body that “looked like” they’d been caused by white phosphorus, the US military was quick to deny responsibility.
US officials—who initially denied that the US had even bombed any civilians in Farah despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including massive craters where houses had once stood—insisted that “no white phosphorus” was used in the attacks on several villages in Farah.
Official military policy on the use of white phosphorus is to only use the high-intensity, self-igniting material as a smoke screen during battles or to illuminate targets, not as a weapon against human beings—even enemy troops.
Now that policy, and the military’s blanket denial that phosphorus was used in Farah, have to be challenged
A little over three years ago, SBS Dateline, an Australian television program, released leaked photographs from the U.S. prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib.
It is believed that the pictures being held back by the Obama administration may include some of these shots that most of the US press ignored, although RAW STORY ran them in 2006.
After the posting of the photos, the ACLU released the following statement exclusive to RAW STORY.
We get reaction to the Senate hearing on torture from private investigator and attorney John Sifton, executive director of One World Research, which carries out research for law firms and human rights groups. Sifton has conducted extensive investigations into the CIA interrogation and detention program. He says any investigation of Bush administration torture and rendition should include an estimated 100 homicides of prisoners in US custody.
D.C. Area Residents Opposed to Af-Pak War Hold Sunday Rally | Press Release
On the heels of a Congressional vote for more war funds, passed at the behest of the White House, local peace and justice activists will hold a Sunday afternoon rally calling for an end to continual war and occupation of Afghanistan, and drone bombings of Pakistan.
Following a House of Representatives vote Thursday approving $96.7 billion in additional war funding, local activists organized an anti-war rally to be held Sunday, 1:30 PM in Lafayette Park. Among the speakers are Ray McGovern, a former senior CIA analyst; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace and Global Exchange; and Erik Leaver a senior policy analyst with the Institute for Policy studies.
StratCom and the Domination of (Cyber) Space
By Tim Rinne | State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace | Submitted by Bruce Gagnon | http://space4peace.blogspot.com/
It seems an unlikely place from which to try to dominate the world.
A remote Air Force base in rural Nebraska, twelve miles south of Omaha.
There's even a cornfield across the road.
But it's where George Bush was rushed for safekeeping on 9/11. And today, it's where the White House continues to wage its international 'War on Terror' and to pursue its goal of dominating space.
And, as it now turns out, cyber space.
Obama now says releasing the additional torture photographs would inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger. But who's he really trying to protect by trying to keep the photos under wraps?
Human rights activists expressed disappointment with President Obama's decision to restore revamped military commission trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
As TomDispatch readers are well aware, James Carroll is a man who knows something about the dangers of mixing religious fervor, war, and the crusading spirit, a subject he dealt with eloquently in his book Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews. A former Catholic priest turned antiwar activist in the Vietnam era, he is a weekly columnist for the Boston Globe, and was perhaps the first media figure to notice -- and warn against -- a presidential "slip of the tongue" just after 9/11, when George W. Bush referred briefly to his new Global War on Terror as a "crusade." He was also possibly the first mainstream columnist in the country to warn against the consequences of launching a war against Afghanistan in response to those attacks -- the disastrous results of which we now see daily.
Carroll's focus on fundamentalist religion and violence is long standing. In print and in other ways, he has spoken out and worked against militarism and intolerance, and has focused on the ways in which religion and violence are increasingly merging into a toxic brew capable of setting our planet aflame. Most recently, he's publicly put both his own practice of Catholicism and the perilous state of his church -- perched as it is at the edge of a fundamentalist precipice with a new Pope who threatens to push it into the void -- under a microscope.
As part of its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is considering holding some of the detainees indefinitely and without trial on US soil, US media reported Thursday.
President Barack Obama's "administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on US soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay," The Wall Street Journal said....
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who met with White House Counsel Greg Craig this week about the Guantanamo plans, told the Journal that the administration was namely seeking authority for indefinite detentions granted by a national security court.
by Dave Lindorff
In reversing himself and declaring that the US government will not release further photos in its possession of torture being practiced on captives held by the US military and the CIA, President Obama is sounding increasingly like the Bush/Cheney administration before him.
It may well be that, as Obama says, release of those photos could lead to anger in the Islamic world and perhaps to recruitment gains among groups like Al Qaeda that are attacking American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but this is only true because at the same time, the Obama administration is opposing taking any legal action against the people who authorized and promoted that torture.
US Iraq Casualties Jump to 72,175
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in- Chief Obama suffered 11 combat casualties in the eight days ending May 13 as the official total jumped sharply to at least 72,175 with an update of "non-combat" victims. The total includes 34,696 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 37,479 dead and medically evacuated (as of April 4, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
In the first hour of his administration President Barack Obama affirmed his dedication to the rule of law:
Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.”
In his first full day in office President Obama said: “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration."
The remarkable campaign and inspiring oratory of the first African-American to be elected to the planet’s most powerful public office sparked worldwide optimism and hope for new and creative approaches to serious national and international challenges.
Bush's 'Smoking Gun' Witness Found Dead
IndictBushNow files Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get to bottom of story
The cover-up of Bush-era crimes is taking a shocking but not unexpected turn. A fateful move has been made and it is certain to backfire.
A prisoner who was horribly tortured in 2002 until he agreed - at the demand of Bush torturers - to say that al-Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein is suddenly dead. Several weeks ago, Human Rights Watch investigators discovered the missing inmate and talked to him. He had been secretly transferred by the administration to a prison in Libya after having been held by the CIA both in secret “black hole prisons” and in Egypt.
This week Congress continues its formal consideration of the Administration's request for "supplemental" money for the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a decision expected Wednesday by the Rules Committee on what amendments will be allowed. Regardless of the outcome on the actual money - it's widely expected that the money will eventually go though - this is a key window for Congressional action. There's never a bad time for Members of Congress to try to exert more influence over foreign policy, but a particularly good time is when there is a request for funding pending - the Administration must perform concern about what Members of Congress think, there are opportunities for limiting amendments, and the media and public will be paying more attention to any debate. Likewise, there's never a bad time to call or write your Member of Congress expressing concern about U.S.