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By Andy Worthington
President Obama’s hopes of closing Guantánamo, which were already gravely wounded by his inability to meet his self-imposed deadline of a year for the prison’s closure, now appear to have been killed off by lawmakers in Congress.
Although the House Armed Services Committee was happy to authorize, by 59 votes to 0, a budget of over $700 billion for war ($567 billion for “defense spending” and $159 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) for the fiscal year beginning in October, lawmakers unanimously saw through — and turned down — a fraction of this budget for what the administration had labeled a “transfer fund” — money intended to close Guantánamo and buy a new prison in Illinois for prisoners designated for trials or for indefinite detention without charge or trial.
On Monday, May 24th six co-defendants appeared in a Philadelphia courtroom in front of Judge DeLeon to stand trial for arrests dating back to September 12, 2009. On that date, hundreds of protesters converged on the "Army Experience Center", a place that literally takes small children and turns them into video thrill-seeking killers, on the taxpayer's dime. If you are not familiar with the place, it was built after the Pentagon decided to shut down five other recruitment centers in the Philadelphia area, and combine them into a high-tech, $14 million facility, complete with 19 gaming stations all equipped with the latest versions of murder software. The DoD filled the place with nice looking recruiters, which they say are not recruiters, but mentors for the "children" who just want to "understand" today's Army. Really, a "PsyOps" program.
On that date last year, seven protesters were plucked out of the crowd of hundreds which was escorted into the mall by the local Philly PD, and civil affairs personnel, and selectively arrested. All were charged with "Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse". One was a journalist, who battled with the Philly DA and got her case dismissed, but the remaining six waited 8 months for our day in court. Our attorney, Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia civil rights attorney, did an amazing job of protecting our freedom of speech, and First Amendment rights. Considering that we had been escorted into the privately owned mall, but were protesting a federally owned recruitment center, many issues came into play. Mr. Hetznecker spent months preparing his trial, actually serving a subpoena on the AEC to deliver the photos and video tapes of inside the center from that day. Read More.
What if Gen. George Washington Was Gay?
By Harvey Wasserman
As Congress at last debates the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, we might ask ourselves: “What if George Washington was gay?”
The question is posed by “Thomas Paine’s” shocking new PASSIONS OF THE POTSMOKING PATRIOTS (www.harveywasserman.com).
The answer, of course, is that---under today’s laws---he would have been drummed out of the Revolutionary Army, and we might still be a colony of the King.
Because he “could not tell a lie,” a gay General Washington would have been obliged to turn himself in. Under current policy, the Continental Congress would have sent him packing back to Mt. Vernon.
Like many gays in today’s military, Washington was irreplaceable. Possessed of an iron will and Vesuvian temper, it’s hard to imagine anyone else holding the ragtag Revolutionary army together. His 1776 crossing of the Delaware to surprise the mercenary Hessians in Trenton was one of the great military strokes in all history.
The Monahans are documenting their travels on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on their own blog, which included a note about their toe-dipping visit to the Pacific Ocean on day one of the walk across the country.
They have been endorsed by Move to Amend, a joint project of more than 50 organizations dedicated to overturning the Citizens United decision. Though the Monahan brothers went to boot camp together in 1964, and Laird served in Vietnam, neither belongs to VFW, Veterans for Peace or any other veterans group.
Two brothers in their late sixties are setting out on a journey they hope will "restore democracy to America." Starting out from San Francisco, Robin and Laird Monahan have begun a 3000-mile hike that will take them across ten states to Washington, DC.
Along the way, the Monahans hope to rally opposition to the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. As the Times-Standard pointed out in a short piece on the Monahan brothers, the decision overturned sections of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, and ruled that corporations are entitled to some of the same rights as people.
RAW STORY caught up with them on foot outside Sacramento after they were interviewed on Davis Community Television.
"The Citizens United decision was just a hammer blow to me," Laird Monahan told RAW STORY. "Frankly, I was despondent for a couple of days. I just thought the end of my country had come to pass." Read more, listen to Raw Story Exclusive Audio.
Linn Washington Jr.
On the second anniversary of their winning a historic $10-million verdict – the largest ever for a discrimination lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department – three men staged a protest outside the city’s federal court house criticizing an unusual roadblock keeping them from receiving the fruits of their justice.
The three protestors, all former policemen, had sued the City of Philadelphia for savage, career-ending retaliation they received from Police Department personnel, including top officials, for their reporting of racism, corruption and other misconduct in the department.
In an unusual twist for such a discrimination suit, all three men are white,
This trio suffered severe retaliation during the late 1990s for opposing the vile racism heaped upon black police officers and minority citizens in the precinct where they worked.
On May 18, as news reports stated that 1000 U.S. military deaths had occurred in Afghanistan, over 70 people joined a Saint Paul protest at the office of U.S. Representative Betty McCollum to demand that she vote against a $33 billion request for additional funding for the war in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Congress will be considering the proposal in the next few weeks.
Participants gathered in front of McCollum’s office in Saint Paul, holding signs and banners.
A delegation later went inside the office. Six people who refused to leave the office after McCollum would not meet with the delegation were arrested by Saint Paul police.
Meredith Aby, a member of the Anti-War Committee who was arrested in the protest stated, “We are opposed to any escalation of the war and we want the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan now. We are building a visible and active movement against the war.”
The May 18 peace action is one in a series of activities by a coalition of peace and anti-war groups to oppose the additional funding for the war in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, protests have been held at the offices of U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. Read more.
The shock waves are still filtering down, a "bagger" winning in Kaintuck and beating the GOP's establishment candidate of choice, but the reality is far more subtle and complex.
Those who wish to understand the Tea Party movement should understand that there are really two of them: the Sarah Palin, pro-war, pro-torture Neocon wing and the Ron Paul-based Libertarians, who both employ the same small gubmint rhetoric while arriving at it from vastly different perspectives.
By John Grant
In Spanish, the word Honduras means depth. The example often used is meterse en Honduras – to go beyond one’s depth. It comes from the adjective hondo – deep or low.
I’ve often wondered what the Spanish conquistador or priest was thinking when he decided circa 1500 to call the place The Depths– or with some liberties, The Gulch.
When I was in Honduras, I recall the capital Tegucigalpa as a series of hills and deep gulches, with the hillsides noted for poor communities of thousands of slapped-together shanties. The Tegucigalpa airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world; it’s a bit like dropping down and circling inside a teacup before landing.
So maybe that old Spaniard was onto something. If Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” maybe Honduras is the gulch where they just get mired in muck.
In light of what's been going on in this country, the past couple of years especially, and a highly reported so called populist movement, themselves calling the participants 'teabaggers', but really a very loud and even with some media and political ideology backing a minority of the population, I bring you this in the subject title and below.
Charles M. Young
In the spring of 1994, I went to the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York where I encountered a large red-faced man with white hair. He had the look and manner of Santa Claus, minus the beard, and he was standing behind a table from which he was selling audio and video cassettes of lectures by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and other prominent anarchists, socialists, communists and even some vaguely progressive Democrats. He was also selling photocopies of an interview I had done with Noam for Rolling Stone.
“Hey,” I said, “that’s my interview with Noam Chomsky!”
“Cool,” said the large, red-faced man. “Would you mind if I crash on your couch tonight? I came all the way from Maine and I don’t have a place to stay.”
Bill Protects Constitutional Right to a Fair Trial
Washington D.C. (May 19, 2010) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced today that he will introduce legislation that would end the practice of targeting U.S. citizens for extrajudicial killing. Earlier this year, The Washington Post and The New York Times revealed that the Obama Administration was continuing the Bush-era policy of including U.S. citizens on lists of people to be assassinated without a trial. Kucinich has spoken out forcefully against revoking the basic constitutional rights of American citizens for simply being suspected of involvement with terrorism, and he is currently recruiting cosponsors for his bill.
“Congress has the responsibility to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens,” wrote Kucinich
The full text of the letter follows:
Scott Horton, Legal Affairs writer for Harper's Magazine, exposes further misconduct in the Siegelman case quoting one member of the prosecution as saying that he would not come forward to expose government misconduct because:
--"you don't understand, these people would kill me if they have to to keep the lid on this." And Main Justice? "They’d be happy to learn that I was dead."
Horton says the person responsible for subverting justice is David Margolas, Deputy Attorney General and the right hand man to Eric Holder. (Who is David Margolas? See Scott Horton's speech below, 4th page, 3rd full paragraph.)
Please read this article and Horton's speech linked in The Legal Schnauzer. It is chilling!
A member of the team that prosecuted former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman says he witnessed rampant misconduct in the case but is afraid to come forward out of fear for his life.
Scott Horton, legal-affairs contributor for Harper's Magazine, made the revelation in a speech last week to the Rotary Club of New York and the American Constitution Society.
Horton says that one Justice Department whistleblower--Tamarah Grimes, of Montgomery--had come forward about misconduct in the Siegelman prosecution and wound up losing her job. A second, unnamed whistleblower fears a similar fate, or worse, if he comes forward.
Horton says he has interviewed both prosecution insiders, and they corroborate statements by key witness Nick Bailey that he was heavily coached and threatened with being outed as a homosexual. Says Horton:
As I note, two members of the prosecution team were appalled by the misconduct that drove the case against Siegelman. One of them filed internal complaints inside the Justice Department. The result? Her name is Tamara Grimes. She was persecuted, hounded, and finally dismissed from her position--in direct violation of the federal whistleblower protection statute.
And what about the second member of the team?
(He) tells me he will not step forward because he knows he would face the same fate. He even indicated the fear of a mob type--"you don't understand, these people would kill me if they have to to keep the lid on this." And Main Justice? "They’d be happy to learn that I was dead."
Horton goes on to summarize the Justice Department's disgraceful handling of the Siegelman case:
So today, even though the Siegelman case has been torn to shreds in the public and 104 state attorneys general, led by Grant Woods, the national co-chair of the McCain for President campaign, have formally complained about the Justice Department’s gross and abusive handling the case, the Justice Department admits no wrong. It's even issued a series of brazenly false public statements in an attempt to cover its tracks.
The Siegelman prosecution hardly is an isolated instance of abuse. Horton discusses other justice-related matters, and the full speech can be viewed here.
Peace Activists threatened with arrest at Hilo, Hawaii Armed Forces Day events | Press Release | May 16, 2010
"Over a dozen peace activists were threatened with arrest for offering peace leaflets and peacefully sign holding at Armed Forces Day events in Hilo on Saturday, May 15th. The activists held signs reading "'Rescue the troops from War,' 'Stop the War,' 'End U.S. Occupation,' etc. along Hilo's airport road fronting the Civil Air Patrol Area of Hilo Airport from 10-11:30AM," said Jim Albertini of Malu 'Aina.
Albertini said. "Head of Hilo airport security Steven Satiago called police and wanted the protesters arrested if they did not leave the area where they were holding signs visible to those arriving for the Armed Forces day events and flights in and out of Hilo airport." According to Albertini, "Santiago, wearing an Army cap, also wanted peace activists arrested for offering peace leaflets to people walking from their parked cars toward the military displays."
Albertini said "Peace activists stood their ground and refused to leave the area to a more remote designated "free speech zone" citing their first amendment free speech rights. Higher ups in both the police department and State transportation were called and eventually the protesters' rights were recognized." Click "Read more" below right to read copy of the peace leaflet, and for contact info.
Text of the peace leaflet being distributed:
Rescue the Troops from War!
It's not just the troops that need rescuing from war. It's all of us -- all of humanity, and the earth itself. The world is spending Trillions of dollars on wars and militarism which is contributing to our global crisis with unprecedented human and environmental needs going unmet. The U.S. spends almost half of the world's total military spending.
Dome or Junk Them
By Missy Comley Beattie
Sen. Joe Lieberman has introduced legislation to deprive Americans of their citizenship rights if they engage in acts of terrorism. He advocates turning the bad guys over to the military. Of course, other lawmakers are moving in Lieberman’s misdirection in a nationalistic stampede. So far, John Mc-NeverWasAMaverick-Cain and Chuck Schumer have shown support.
McCain said, “ Americans should lose their citizenship rights if they’re designated an enemy combatant, yes.”
Not to be out-patrioticized, Schumer was quick with a, “That sounds like something I’d support, but I’d have to look at the legislation.”
Attorney General Eric Holder is talking about “modifying” Miranda rights in certain cases.
And there’s this:
Elena Kagan, the president’s choice to join the Supremes agrees with the Bush Administration that anyone suspected of helping finance al- Qaida should be stripped of rights and held under indefinite detention, without trial. Obama’s selection of Kagan shines a spotlight on his inner Bush. In fact, Obama hasn’t seen a Bush action he truly disavows.
Excerpt: The perpetrators have one goal: censor anything — or silence anyone — critical of Islam or the prophet Mohammed. Can you imagine if followers of every faith did this? What if Christians threatened violence to anyone who said Jesus did not die for their sins? What if Jews attacked anyone claiming the Holocaust was fiction? In our 24/7 world, in which information can traverse the globe with the click of a mouse, this type of thin-skinned reaction is especially dangerous. Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published a dozen Mohammed cartoons in 2005, ignited a global tinderbox of jihadists outraged by the "blasphemy."
What makes these reactions doubly troubling for me is that Islam does not support people who violently censor free speech. The Quran guarantees freedom of speech on four occasions, teaching Muslims to respond to people who criticize their faith by asking for proof of their claim. The Quran forbids compulsion in thought. Should a person go as far as to insult a Muslim, the Quran forbids retaliation in any form, explaining that a Muslim's only option is to simply "turn away from them" or "sit not with them." No violence, anger or aggression. Read more.
U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts
By Mark Marzetti | NY Times
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expanded role of contractors on the battlefield — from interrogating prisoners to hunting terrorism suspects — has raised questions about whether the United States has outsourced some of its most secretive and important operations to a private army many fear is largely unaccountable. The C.I.A. has relied extensively on contractors in recent years to carry out missions in war zones.
The exposure of the spying network also reveals tensions between the Pentagon and the C.I.A., which itself is running a covert war across the border in Pakistan. In December, a cable from the C.I.A.’s station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, to the Pentagon argued that the military’s hiring of its own spies could have disastrous consequences, with various networks possibly colliding with one another....Some officials say they believe that the C.I.A. is trying to scuttle the operation to protect its own turf, and that the spy agency has been embarrassed because the contractors are outperforming C.I.A. operatives.
The private contractor network was born in part out of frustration with the C.I.A. and the military intelligence apparatus. There was a belief by some officers that the C.I.A. was too risk averse, too reliant on Pakistan’s spy service and seldom able to provide the military with timely information to protect American troops. In addition, the military has complained that it is not technically allowed to operate in Pakistan, whose government is willing to look the other way and allow C.I.A. spying but not the presence of foreign troops. Read more.
As Long as We're Denying Miranda Warnings, and We're Free to Just Murder People, Surely We Can Delay Any Judicial Hearings Too?
Oh you betcha: more change you have to believe to see.
By Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia loves to brag about it’s ‘Firsts,’ citing such notable things as the nation’s first capital (1774), America’s first zoo (1874) and the birthplace of the world’s first digital computer ENIAC (1946).
There is one ‘First’ that will never appear in slick tourist handouts from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau though, and that’s the city’s first air raid on May 13, 1985, when the city deliberately bombed an occupied house containing children, sparking a deadly firestorm.
A bomb dropped on an American city by that city’s own police force?
Yes, a bomb made with hi-explosive military C-4 and powerful Tovex dropped by Philadelphia police from a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter onto the roof of 6221 Osage Ave., located in West Philadelphia just blocks from the University of Pennsylvania – considered America’s ‘First’ university.
Michael Munk commented on the article below:
With Obama's escalating pandering to the Right, it's clear that the "Progressive" wing of the Dems has no influence on him. I suggest his political reasoning is impeccable: most of the "progressive caucus" has gone along with: his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health "reform" giveaway to the insurance industry, his war on civil liberties, and now this Supreme Court nomination that everyone agrees shifts the Court ever further to the Right. So why should he pay any attention to those of his supporters who have demonstrated they have no where else to go?
If President Obama has his way, Elena Kagan will replace John Paul Stevens -- and the Supreme Court will move rightward. The nomination is very disturbing, especially because it's part of a pattern.
The White House is in the grip of conventional centrist wisdom. Grim results stretch from Afghanistan to the Gulf of Mexico to communities across the USA.
"It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills," President Obama said in support of offshore oil drilling, less than three weeks before the April 20 blowout in the Gulf. "They are technologically very advanced."
On numerous policy fronts, such conformity to a centrist baseline has smothered hopes for moving this country in a progressive direction. Now, the president has taken a step that jeopardizes civil liberties and other basic constitutional principles.
"During the course of her Senate confirmation hearings as Solicitor General, Kagan explicitly endorsed the Bush administration's bogus category of 'enemy combatant,' whose implementation has been a war crime in its own right," University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle noted last month. "Now, in her current job as U.S. Solicitor General, Kagan is quarterbacking the continuation of the Bush administration's illegal and unconstitutional positions in U.S. federal court litigation around the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court."
Boyle added: "Kagan has said 'I love the Federalist Society.' This is a right-wing group; almost all of the Bush administration lawyers responsible for its war and torture memos are members of the Federalist Society."
The departing Justice Stevens was a defender of civil liberties. Unless the Senate refuses to approve Kagan for the Supreme Court, the nation's top court is very likely to become more hostile to civil liberties and less inclined to put limits on presidential power.
Here is yet another clear indication that progressives must mobilize to challenge the White House on matters of principle. Otherwise, history will judge us harshly -- and it should. Read more.
Do the 'Torture Lawyers' Have Guilty Minds?: A Response to Jens Ohlin
By John T. Parry, Lewis & Clark Law School | Harvard International Law Journal, Vol. 51, pp. 23-34, 2010
Abstract: In this paper, written for the Harvard International Law Journal Online, I respond to Jens Ohlin's important article, "The Torture Lawyers," which provides a forceful argument for the accomplice liability of Office of Legal Counsel attorneys who wrote legal opinions that facilitated coercive interrogation, including torture. The thrust of my response is to question the version of accomplice liability that Ohlin uses and to suggest that federal government lawyers who wrote opinions on the legality of coercive interrogation may have a viable mens rea failure of proof defense to criminal charges that are based on being accomplices to torture. I also suggest that the availability of such a defense is a direct consequence of the U.S. Senate's decision to require specific intent for the crime of torture, and I propose amending federal law to lower the mens rea to knowledge or general intent.
Read article in attached PDF, below right.
The public safety exception lets law enforcement officers question suspects on potential threats before giving a “Miranda warning” advising them of their rights to remain silent and to have legal counsel.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the White House is working with Congress on giving federal officials more flexibility in questioning terror suspects, calling it a “new priority” for President Barack Obama.
“We want the public safety exception to be consistent with the public safety concerns that we now have,” Holder said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. The top U.S. law enforcement official earlier said on ABC’s “This Week” that Congress needs to give “serious consideration” to revising the guidelines. Read more of the Bloomsberg Business Week article.. Click "Read more" below right to read excerpted portion of ABC This Week transcript.
New Analysis Of 40-Year-Old Recording Of Kent State Shootings Reveals That Ohio Guard Was Given An Order To Prepare To Fire
The Ohio National Guardsmen who fired on students and antiwar protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 were given an order to prepare to shoot, according to a new analysis of a 40-year-old audio tape of the event.
"Guard!" says a male voice on the recording, which two forensic audio experts enhanced and evaluated at the request of The Plain Dealer. Several seconds pass. Then, "All right, prepare to fire!"
"Get down!" someone shouts urgently, presumably in the crowd. Finally, "Guard! . . . " followed two seconds later by a long, booming volley of gunshots. The entire spoken sequence lasts 17 seconds.
The previously undetected command could begin to explain the central mystery of the Kent State tragedy - why 28 Guardsmen pivoted in unison atop Blanket Hill, raised their rifles and pistols and fired 67 times, killing four students and wounding nine others in an act that galvanized sentiment against the Vietnam War.
The order indicates that the gunshots were not spontaneous, or in response to sniper fire, as some have suggested over the years.
"I think this is a major development," said Alan Canfora, one of the wounded, who located a copy of the tape in a library archive in 2007 and has urged that it be professionally reviewed. "There's been a grave injustice for 40 years because we lacked sufficient evidence to prove what we've known all along - that the Ohio National Guard was commanded to kill at Kent State on May 4, 1970." Read more.
The CIA - Murdering the Truth: A Terrible Mistake – The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments
The CIA - Murdering the Truth
“A Terrible Mistake – The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments”
By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
They did experiments on children in orphanages. Some never recovered. Most would be impacted all of their lives, haunted by fear and subject to the physical effects of what they endured. The same government agency drugged unsuspecting adults prepared only for a casual social evening,invited there expecting friendship. They ignored all standards of decent personal behavior, endangering and killing as it suited them. They cloaked themselves in the authority of government. Entrusted to spend billions with no accounting of the funds they showed no sign of conscience, no remorse.
The echo of voices filled with terror, now long dead and silenced, reverberate through the pages of, “A Terrible Mistake – The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments,” as the dispassionate voice of author Hank Albarelli lifts the long hidden history of CIA experiments on unsuspecting Americans into the light of day.
The book, 900 pages, which hefts and reads like a Stephen King novel, leaves the reader uncomfortably aware they have been living a fantasy, now ending.
This is a book you need to read.
The story is framed around the death of Frank Olson, a bacteriologist who had been working for ten years at Camp Detrick at the time of his death. Explained as a suicide after he plunged ten stories from his room at the Statler Hotel in New York City on November 28, 1953 to die horribly, broken but still trying to speak, you learn through the meticulous detailing of events Olson was actually murdered by paid assassins working for the CIA because of remarks made about his work.
Olson wanted to leave his job. He wanted to become a dentist. The CIA made sure that could not happen.
Olson himself probably witnessed the drugging with LSD of an entire town in France. Pont-Saint-Esprit and it was likely his comments on the incident which eventually motivated the CIA to silence him.
Albarelli's search for the truth takes you on a tour through the horror house being built by the CIA in its search for weapons intended to provide seemingly limitless options for death, control, and destruction. In this pursuit a burgeoning proliferation of weapons which, in common, were used covertly in acts of war carried out in times of peace, were originated. These included biological weapons crafted to impact specific categories of individuals and may well have included the AIDS virus. Read Albarelli's article on the likely source of AIDS.
NEW YORK – Four reporters have been banned from future military commissions proceedings for reporting the name of a military interrogator who was set to testify in the pre-trial hearings of Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Sun, Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail and Steven Edwards of the National Post included the name of the interrogator in coverage of the Khadr trial. The identity of the interrogator had already been disclosed in previous news reports, including an on-the-record interview the interrogator gave to Shephard in 2008.
Jameel Jaffer, ACLU Deputy Legal Director: