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Civil Rights / Liberties


US Security Forces Harassing People Even Before They Travel

When are people going to get it??

Our government is spying on all of us and using the information it collects not only to gate-rape us at the airport, which the masses of sheeple don't give a shit about, but to target and harass people based purely on their ethnicity. 

Leaked TSA document causing trouble for Jon Corbett

 

Our buddy Jon Corbett is back in the news again.

 

TSA air marshal taking pix up women’s dresses

 

Gee, why am I not surprised?

Just another criminal in the already criminal ranks of the TSA.

Read the rest at TSA News.

Political Prisoners in the U.S.: Systematically Neglected and Ignored

North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee statement on the state of health care of Political Prisoners in the U.S.

Denver, October 16, 2013 - On October 4, 2013, the world lost one of its greatest fighters in the struggle against oppression and injustice.  Herman Wallace spent 41 years in solitary confinement after being targeted by the state for his work against racism and oppression from within the prison system.  Amnesty International and mainstream news sources recently highlighted the release of Herman Wallace from prison. Tragically, Herman was able to breathe the air of freedom for only 3 days before he passed away.  Herman was denied any kind of compassionate release by the state of Louisiana, despite his advanced liver cancer and the prognosis of a mere two months to live.  Though it was the circumstances of his original conviction that compelled a judge to grant Herman his freedom, it was the state’s lack of concern for his medical condition that led to the resurgence of public and media interest in his case.

Herman was just one of many, ageing political prisoners (and prisoners of war) in the United States who are currently being denied adequate medical care and the compassionate release for which they qualify.  These people are incarcerated for their opposition to actions or policies of the US government that are in violation of human rights, and as such should be afforded the protections of international law.  It is the opinion of the North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee that these captured dissidents and combatants be granted compassionate release and dignified medical care, with respect to their age, health and sacrifice in service of legitimate struggles against oppression and exploitation.  It was too little, too late for Herman; that must not be the fate of our other elder comrades.

Unfortunately, cases like Herman’s are far too common.  Albert “Nuh” Washington, Bashir Hameed and Marilyn Buck  are other recent victims of prison medical neglect.  Some, such as Merle Africa, have died under suspicious medical circumstances.  More will soon follow, if swift action is not taken. 

Lynne Stewart is a 73 year old movement attorney convicted of materially aiding a terrorist organization for issuing two press releases on behalf of her client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Lynne was initially sentenced to 2 years in prison. But after publicly claiming that she could survive the 2 years, the government appealed her sentencing and she was punitively re-sentenced to an outrageous 10 years in prison. Diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer prior to her sentencing in 2009, Lynne was denied compassionate release because the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) claimed "she is not suffering from a condition which is terminal within 18 months," though treating physicians have estimated her life expectancy at 12 to 18 months. She is currently awaiting a decision from an independent committee within the BOP. From there it will go to the director of the BOP for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge.  Lynne’s health deteriorates daily.  Her case is one example of many ongoing cases of medical neglect, including Abdul Majid, Robert Seth Hayes, Tom Manning, Jalil Muntaqim, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Chelsea Manning, and Leonard Peltier.

There are currently over 100 political prisoners in the United States. These women and men are listed and recognized as political prisoners by numerous human rights, legal defense and progressive/socialist organizations. They come from the Civil Rights/Black Power/New African Liberation struggles, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, Indigenous Peoples survival struggles, Chicano/Mexicano Movements, anti-imperialist/anti-war movements, anti-racist/anti-fascist struggles, the Women’s Movement, social and economic justice struggles, and especially in the past several years, from the Environmental/Animal Rights movement. They are Black, white, Latino and Native American. Most of these political prisoners have been in captivity since the 1970s and 80s. Some were convicted on totally fabricated charges, others for nebulous political conspiracies or for acts of resistance. All received huge sentences for their political beliefs or actions in support of these beliefs. 

Despite international recognition of political prisoners within the US, the US government continues to deny their existence.  An article in the Harvard Black Letter Law Journal Vol. 18, states that “Despite their prevalence in United States society, U.S. Government officials have long denied the very existence of political prisoners. When Andrew Young, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, publicly acknowledged the existence of over 100 political prisoners in his country, he was swiftly removed from office.” - The Reality of Political Prisoners in the United States: What September 11 Taught Us About Defending Themby J. Soffiyah Elijah

The harsh punitive conditions of confinement, often in special “control unit” type prisons, that political prisoners face daily, decade after decade, exposes and refutes this government myth.

The Geneva Conventions contain the internationally recognized standard of care for prisoners of war.  The standard of care for Political Prisoners in the United States ought to be at least as sound as the Geneva Conventions.  It currently is not.  We have many ageing comrades struggling for the most basic health care while incarcerated.  Even the Office of the Inspector General found that the existing BOP compassionate release program has been poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and in terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided, as noted in the Department of Justice April 2013 review of the BOP compassionate release program .  We cannot allow this to keep happening.  What’s happened to Herman Wallace should never happen again.  No one should die in prison.  Least of all, perhaps, those who have spent their lives fighting oppression and injustice.

The Faces of Medical Neglect

The problem of medical neglect is a systematic one and affects many Political Prisoners / Prisoners of War.  Following you will find some examples of folks who are suffering right now, as well as a list of people who have died because of medical neglect in prison or who were denied compassionate release before dying in prison:

•Abdul Majid:  Black Liberation Army / Republic of New Afrika POW who recently suffered pressure on his sciatic nerve and was rendered unable to walk. After a week in this condition, he still had not been seen by a doctor, despite following the "sick call" procedure and all other necessary steps to get medical attention. After a call-in campaign, he was seen by a doctor but had not received the surgery he needed. It is presumed he is still unable to.

•Oso Blanco (Byron Shane Chubbuck): Indigenous POW, long-term chronic liver patient. Oso Blanco has been denied medical treatment for daily vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, irregular breathing, etc. He was unable to eat and had a large, hard mass in his liver, though Florence medical staff refused to do anything about it except look in his cell and pronounce him "fine." A call in / letter-writing campaign was necessary to get him a blood test, and he still did not receive a proper ultrasound (which was part of the call-in request). More answers from Oso are required before Dr. Lana Habash can properly interpret the results of his blood test.  Oso also faced retribution from the call in campaign in the forms of mail being held and phone calls being cut short. As of right now he is still experiencing liver pain.

•Robert Seth Hayes: Black Liberation Army POW with Type II diabetes and Hep C.   Seth has been fighting for adequate blood sugar monitoring since 2000. He had been consistently denied medical care for frequent, insulin-shock-induced blackouts in 2004 at Clinton Correctional facility. In 2009, when his sugar plunged to 32 and then up to 620 in a short amount of time, he had a seizure, for which he was taken off of honor block and thrown in keep-lock in Wende Correctional facility (supposedly a medical facility, though they denied him the diabetic diet necessary for his health). In August of 2012, at Sullivan Correctional Facility, he broke his index and middle fingers (injuries to the hands and feet, which can heal on their own, are very dangerous for diabetics). He was given x-rays and seen only by a physician’s assistant (not a doctor), and the diagnosis as to which fingers were broken kept changing. He has now lost the full range of motion in his hand.

•Tom Manning:  United Freedom Front POW. In February of 2010, he needed a transfer to a medical prison to biopsy a lump in his groin, under his nipple and inside his shoulder blade. Recently, he was in need of knee replacement surgery. Also suffering from two tears in his shoulder tendons and advanced muscle atrophy, he was unable to lift a cup and unable to participate in the physical therapy necessary for walking (after eventually getting the knee replacement surgery). Nothing was done until a call in campaign was launched.

•Jalil Muntaqim: Black Liberation Army POW. Jalil had a stroke in January. The treating physician recommended he be transferred to an outside hospital, but the head physician refused. Four months later, he was given a CT scan, which reported brain damage consistent with a stroke. In June he was finally taken to Wende, where a neurologist examined him.  After refusing Jalil's request for an MRI, the neurologist said that all the damage that will be done has been done, and that he should continue to exercise as he has been.

•Mutulu Shakur: Black Liberation Army / Republic of New Afrika POW, up for release in 2015. Mutulu has yet to be given physical therapy for the stroke he suffered in February.

•Chelsea Manning: "Whistleblower" who made available thousands of classified files pertaining to US war crimes / crimes against humanity.  We do not know if her gender reassignment needs will be met by the military prison in which she is incarcerated, and how this will affect her physically and psychologically (she has already been subjected to torture while in the penal system).

•Leonard Peltier:  American Indian Movement POW who had a prostate cancer scare (was exhibiting symptoms) in 2010. In June of that year, after being pressured by lawyers and the community, the BOP ordered blood tests. He received the results 4 months later. A biopsy was deemed necessary for proper diagnosis (and had not been performed as of April, 2011), and even if cancer is/was not present, a serious medical condition was nonetheless indicated by his symptoms. He has suffered a stroke which left him partially blind in one eye. For many years, he had a seriously debilitating jaw condition which left him unable to chew properly and caused consistent pain and headaches. The prison medical facilities could not properly treat this condition. In fact, two prison surgeries only worsened Leonard Peltier's condition. A physician from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offered to repair Leonard Peltier's jaw free-of-charge, but was turned down again and again by prison authorities until the United Nations sharply rebuked the United States for subjecting Leonard Peltier to inhumane conditions. Surgery was performed and Leonard's condition improved somewhat. Subsequent surgeries are required, however, to fully address his condition. To date, such treatment has not been approved by prison officials. In recent years, Leonard Peltier has again begun to experience severe discomfort related to his jaw, teeth, and gums. Today, Leonard Peltier suffers from bone spurs in his feet and is affected by diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition, and other emerging health issues. According to an affiliate of Physicians for Human Rights, he risks blindness, kidney failure, and stroke given his inadequate diet, living conditions, and health care.

- Bashir Hameed, a Deputy Chairman in the Black Panther Party and COINTELPRO target, was charged and convicted of the murder and the attempted murder of two police officers in April 1981. This conviction came as a direct result of his political activity. Bashir Hameed and his co-defendant, Abdul Majid were tried three times (Queens Two) before the state was able to convict them. Bashir was serving a sentence of 25 years to life when, in 2008, he began to physically suffer. He was continuously denied any kind of medical attention or care. In May 2008, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation joined with comrades from Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Jericho Movement to coordinate call-in days during the month of June of 2008, demanding immediate medical attention. By early July, Hameed was receiving the requested care and testing thanks to consistent agitation from his family and supporters. Bashir Hameed died from complications of a triple bypass surgery at the New York prison system on August 30th 2008 because the prison administration refused to take him to an outside hospital.

-Kuwasi Balagoon, a member of the Black Liberation Army. Captured and convicted of various crimes against the State, he spent much of the 1970s in prison, escaping twice. After each escape, he went underground and resumed BLA activity. He was captured in December 1981, charged with participating in an armoured truck expropriation in West Nyack, New York, on October 21 of that year, an action in which two police officers and a money courier were killed. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died of pneumocystis carninii pneumonia, an AIDS-related illness, on December 13, 1986.

-Albert Nuh Washington, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. Washington was imprisoned in 1971 as a result of the U.S. government`s war against the Black Liberation Movement and subsequently spent 29 years as a political prisoner (one of the New York Three). He died of cancer in the U.S. prison system on April 28, 2000.

Protesting pot prohibition while black: Angered by Racist Prosecutions, Activist Makes Inflammatory Name Change Request

By Linn Washington Jr.


Ed Forchion, recognized as America’s foremost black marijuana legalization activist, freely admits that he “agitates” people – powerful people from prosecutors to politicians and even more mainstream anti-pot prohibition advocates who bristle at his antics.

The activism of Forchion, often outrageous like his March 2000 stunt of smoking a marijuana joint inside the New Jersey State Assembly chamber while dressed in bold black and white stripped jailhouse garb, has drawn praise and prison terms.

Dry Runs and Dry Ice: the United States of Paranoia

Two stories have come to light in the past few days that have some people on edge and others suspicious.

First is the story of a so-called "dry run" (or two, depending on who you read) aboard an airplane from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida in September.

TSA still assaulting, abusing passengers – so what else is new?

 

The Arizona Republic filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, and guess what they found out? That the TSA abuses people at the checkpoint.

Gee, I’m shocked.

Albany Common Council upholds U.S. Constitution!

 
Linda LeTendre's Waging Peace
by Linda LeTendre

Waging Peace

A Daily Gazette community blog
Linda LeTendre fights for a peaceful world.
 
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finally, some good news to report.

On Monday, Oct. 7, the Albany Common Council (ACC) unanimously voted to make Albany the first city in the USA to outright prohibit indefinite military detention of its citizens without charge or trial, declared that the city is not in fact a battlefield and that said citizens are not subject to the “detention under the law of war,” all of which are specifics under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The ACC declared to the US government that the U.S. Constitution, the unabridged, unadulterated version, as the framers intended it, reigns supreme in Albany. All ACC members can expect to be on the non-mythical NSA watch list now -- if they weren't already -- as THAT part of the government is still up and running. Come to think of it, the parts of our government that kill people and spy on us are all fully operational, as it the Congressional gym/spa. Headstart and government burial funds for soldiers killed in action are not. Says volumes doesn't it?

I come from four generations of veterans and the two that are still living (father and brother) are very pleased that the ACC has enough appreciation and respect for the fact that they risked their lives in their military service to defend the rights and freedoms guaranteed by that sacred document, to take the risk to uphold it themselves. I say with all certainty that if the other two generations (grandfather and great grandfather) were alive they too would share in that appreciation.

For those not familiar with the NDAA, this law declares the entire United States of America to be a battlefield in the “war on terror” (which oddly enough has come to look like a war on our rights and freedoms). Sections 1021 & 1022 give the military the authority to hold indefinitely, without charge or trail, ANYONE, including American citizens accused of “support” for terrorist actions or for committing a “belligerent act” -- with neither “support” nor “belligerent” being specifically defined. Purposely. Despite the fact that this violates several sections of the U.S. Constitution, as well as at least seven amendments, the NDAA overwhelmingly passed Congress in 2011 and Obama was only too happy to sign it on Dec. 31, 2011, as he had specifically requested the two sections that the ACC repealed for Albany.

It is the strongest rebuke in the country to the NDAA, recognizing it to be unconstitutional. Other states that voted to block the law require that the state “stand down,” allowing federal officials to drag people off to G-d knows where, under G-d knows what conditions (you can bet it will not be a four star hotel), for G-d know how long. In Albany, they have to protect you.

What does this have to do with peacemaking as this blog is supposed to be about that? People who disagree with the U.S. government have been declared “low level terrorists” by the Pentagon. If you're working for peace and your government is at war....remember the vague definitions referred to earlier?

Many thanks go to People Against the NDAA (PANDAA) -- find them on Facebook, the Tom Pain Chapter of Veterans for Peace, 518 Liberty Action Alliance, Project SALAM, Campaign for Liberty New York, and numerous other organizations and citizens who wrote letters, sent messages, called and attended Monday's meeting. The later being a real sacrifice, as any one who has ever attended one of these meetings can tell you, they can be deadly long and there are not enough o's in boring to describe them.

Daniel Hogan of PANDA and John Amidon of VFP were two folks that worked hard on this issue. I would like to thank them and say, “I am proud to know you both.”

I am hoping that people in other cities and towns across America follow suit and take back their rights, their freedoms, their government. PANDAA has the material already for you to get stared. Download it here and get to work.

Activists announce call campaign to repeal NDAA with truckers

Washington - With over 2,000 truckers estimated by organizers due to start arriving in the nation's capitol today, anti-NDAA activists have announced a call campaign to Congress to demand it enact one of the truckers' principle demands, repeal of the NDAA.  The National Defense Authorization Act, or the NDAA as it has come to be known, authorizes the US military to detain US citizens without charge or trial, indefinitely, in secret, upon mere suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.

The truckers are carrying the message "Restore the Constitution." They are gathering at a staging area in Virginia today and will be descending on Washington, DC tomorrow.

Another person finally wakes up to TSA abuse

Hard to believe as it is that people still don’t know what the TSA is doing in this country ("as long as nothing happens to me, it's all okay!"), I’m always glad to meet a new convert. Even if it means that in order to be converted, that person has to be mistreated him- or herself. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way the world works. As the saying by Livy goes, “Eventus stultorum magister est” — “Fools must be taught by experience.”

Park rangers ‘punked’: Government Shuts Down But Perversions Persist

By Linn Washington, Jr.


On the first day of the federal government shut-down, as hundreds of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Liberty Bell and other fabled sites within the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia, Richard Dyost stood near the building housing the Bell and received a big laugh.

'One Million Truckers' Ride to Restore Constitution Next Week

Originally published at:
http://digitaljournal.com/article/358989


Having had their Facebook page shut down by Facebook administrators earlier this month, a group spearheaded by the Independent Truckers of America is calling for a three-day 'buy nothing' period from October 11 - 13.

‘Freedom’s just another word...’ The Police State of America

By Dave Lindorff


I no longer recognize my country.

Back in 1997, after two years living in China, and five more living in Hong Kong, during which time, as a correspondent for Business Week magazine, I slipped in and out of China regularly as a journalist to report on developments there, I got a good dose of life in a totalitarian society. When I alit from the plane in Philadelphia where my family and I were about to start a new chapter of our lives, I remember feeling like a big weight had been lifted off my chest.

Obama’s Justice Department: Trumpeting a New Victory in War on Freedom of the Press

By Norman Solomon

There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism -- and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.

While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.

You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder:

“This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”

Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties. Let this be a lesson to journalists and would-be leakers alike.

Audibly on the chopping block are provisions in the Bill of Rights such as “freedom … of the press” and “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Obama administration’s pernicious goal is to normalize circumstances where journalists can’t credibly promise confidentiality, and potential leakers don’t believe they can have it. The broader purpose is to destroy independent journalism -- which is to say, actual journalism -- which is to say, freedom of the press.

Impacts are crystal clear to just about any journalist who has done reporting that’s much more than stenographic services for official government and corporate sources. When unofficial sources are choked off, not much is left other than the Official Story.

The Official Story is routinely somewhere between very selective and mendacious. A case in point, ironically enough, is the Justice Department’s righteous announcement that the prison term for the leaker of information to The Associated Press reflected the Department’s “deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets.”

“Hold accountable anyone”? (Laugh, scream or cry; take your pick.)

Like others before it, the Obama administration has made a frequent practice of leaking classified “secrets” to media outlets -- when its calculus is that revealing those secrets will make the administration look good. Of course in those cases the Justice Department doesn’t bother to track down the leakers.

Such extreme hypocrisy in high places has become so normalized that major media outlets often seem completely inured to it.

Hours after the Justice Department’s announcement on Monday that its surveillance of AP phone records had resulted in a lengthy prison sentence, the PBS “NewsHour” did not devote a word to it. Perhaps the program could not find a few seconds to shave off the lengthy beach-ball interview that Judy Woodruff conducted with former President Clinton.

To the top echelons of quasi-journalistic enterprises that are bankrolled by corporate advertisers and underwriters, the disappearance of confidentiality -- along with routine violations of the First and Fourth Amendments -- might hardly matter. Official sources flood the media zone.

But the New York Times coverage should have given attentive readers indigestion over breakfast Tuesday“A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year … Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician, as a suspect in the leak case only after secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.”

The Times added: “Sachtleben … has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said. His case is the eighth leak-related prosecution under the Obama administration. Only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents.

How did the Justice Department catch Sachtleben in the first place? By seizing records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period.

This is more than a chilling effect on the First Amendment; it’s an icy wind, threatening to put real freedom of the press into a deep freeze. Journalists -- and the rest of us -- should respond with outraged opposition.

________________________________________


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

A fight against the very essence of the Internet: Attacking Net Neutrality Once Again

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Last week, Verizon, the telephone giant, went to court to accuse the Federal Communications Commission of "overstepping its authority" and reverse the authority's over-step. It's a legal wrangle that, bottled and distributed, would be a safe substitute for sleeping pills.

NSA Conspires with Israel Against Americans

 

NSA Conspires with Israel Against Americans

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Millions worldwide owe Edward Snowden sincere gratitude. He revealed what's vital to know. He connected important dots to do so. 

 

He revealed unconstitutional NSA spying. He did it courageously. When governments operate lawlessly, exposing wrongdoing is crucial. Doing it entails risks. 

 

NSA Undermines Encrypted Communications

 

NSA Undermines Encrypted Communications

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Unconstitutional spying is official US policy. Privacy no longer exists. Even encrypted communications are vulnerable.

 

On September 5, London's Guardian headlined "Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet and privacy security."

Busted for Playing Banjo on Independence Mall: Park Rangers Brutally Arrest Iraq War Vet at Anti-Syria Bombing Demo

By Dave Lindorff


Independence Mall, Philadelphia -- The US has yet to launched President Obama’s latest war crime of massively bombing Syria -- a country that does not threaten this nation -- and already federal police thugs, in this case National Park Service Rangers, have brutally arrested an Iraq War Veteran who was peacefully playing her banjo in the shade on Independence Mall in Philadelphia following an anti-war protest and march.


Hackers do damage but government and corporations are the real problem: Internet Hackers and the Real Threat They Expose

By Alfredo Lopez


While certainly not over-shadowing the Obama Administration's military threats against Syria, the cyber attack that brought the mighty New York Times [1] to its knees last week is a major development and should get us all thinking.

What Kind of Man? (or woman, for that matter?)

I have posted and reposted this comment all over the place since I first saw it at Time magazine in June of 2011:

 

Read the rest at ABombazine.


America's Intelligence Budget Black Hole

 

America's Intelligence Budget Black Hole

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On August 29, the Washington Post headlined "US spy network's successes, failures and objectives detailed in 'black budget' summary," saying:

 

Of Principalities and Powers ~ “Those Crazy Conspiracy Theories"

  The routine never varies here, so I was startled when there was a knock, followed immediately by a key turning in the door.  “It’s not time for breakfast yet,” I told Henry, the massive attendant.

 

“Get dressed anyway,” he told me.  “The Director wants you in his office in fifteen minutes.”

 

The Gainesville 8 and a Nixonized World

A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8.  Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness -- or what we like to call today: standard government practice.

The Gainesville 8 were eight men, seven of them members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who planned to nonviolently demonstrate at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.  They were wrongfully prosecuted for planning violence, and they were all acquitted by a jury on August 31, 1973, in a highly publicized trial.

Under the shadow of the chaos that surrounded the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, VVAW took extra steps to avoid violence at the '72 RNC, meeting with the Miami police and with right-wing groups in an effort to prevent conflicts.  And yet, prior to the convention, President Nixon's FBI began preemptively arresting VVAW leaders, accusing them of plotting murder and mayhem, and attempting to prevent them from taking part in what they were really plotting: a nonviolent march to the convention, where they would request to meet with the president.

Many VVAW members managed to pull off the march, during the course of which they came upon an activist carrying weapons; they turned him in to the police.  Three vets, including Ron Kovic, made it into the convention to pose some uncomfortable questions to some long-distance, stay-at-home war supporters.

Just prior to the arrests of the VVAW members in Florida, burglars working for Nixon had been arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate.  When the Watergate burglars were captured, one of them, James McCord, explained that they were investigating a link between the Democrats and the VVAW which they believed was planning trouble at the upcoming Republican National Convention.  McCord submitted an affidavit to the Gainesville 8 defense team restating this.  The Gainesville 8 defense argued that their prosecution was aimed at strengthening Nixon's thugs' phony case for the Watergate break-in.

One of several infiltrators and would-be provocateurs who made up the fabricated case against the Gainesville 8 was Vincent Hanard.  He said that Nixonian henchmen Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, and Frank Sturgis had asked him to infiltrate VVAW and cause trouble.  Another hired trouble-maker, Alfred Baldwin, was employed both monitoring a bug at the Watergate and infiltrating VVAW with a goal of embarrassing Democrats if VVAW demonstrated at the RNC.

Another professional provocateur named Pablo Fernandez was summoned to a grand jury investigating Nixonian henchman Donald Segretti.  Fernandez said he'd tried to sell the VVAW guns and been turned down (something the Miami police confirmed), and that he'd spied on the veterans using electronic devices.  In fact, he'd tried to record a conversation with VVAW leader Scott Camil, but Fernandez' hidden microphone had failed.

Other of the government's many infiltrators in the VVAW included William Koehler, Karl Becker, Emerson Poe, and William Lemmer.  Poe had become best friends with Camil (or so Camil thought).  Poe sat in meetings with the defendants right up until he was called as a prosecution witness, thus blowing his cover -- about which the government had previously lied under oath.  Lemmer was the star witness, however, alleging wild tales of violent plans.  He was himself violent and unstable.  Lemmer had already set up a 17 year old to vandalize a building in Arkansas and arranged to have the FBI waiting for him.  Lemmer had helped bust six people for marijuana.  His specialty was talking people into considering the use of violence.  He just wasn't very convincing as a witness.

Scott Camil was the southeast regional coordinator of VVAW.  His lawyer's office was broken into during these proceedings, and his file taken.  Also, FBI agents with electronic gear were found hiding in a closet of the room that the defendants and lawyers were meeting in during the trial.

"It's not really 11 years till 1984," Camil said in his closing statement (PDF) in court.  "It's a lot closer than that." 

This sounds odd to us, living in 2013.  Technology, if not morality, has made great leaps forward.  There's no more need for bungling idiots with brief cases full of spy gear hiding in closets.  The government can spy on us without making its presence known.  But provocateurs are still employed to manufacture crimes, and much of what was considered illicit under Nixon is treated as acceptable established practice under Obama.

A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States today: the FBI.  Peace groups today, including chapters of Veterans For Peace, have been redefined as "security threats" and "potential terrorists."  The police have been militarized.  Free speech cages are established at great distance from political conventions.  Preemptive detentions before demonstrations don't always bother with charges or prosecutions at all.  And the corporate-state media has internalized these practices as normal.  In 1973, CBS sued for the right to cover the Gainesville 8 trial.  Today I think it would be easier to find a media outlet willing to pay money to avoid having to cover something.  Chelsea Manning's trial was covered by bloggers.

Camil represented himself in court, and included no apologies, as observers of Chelsea Manning's trial might have expected.  Camil's opening statement should be read in full (PDF).  He put the government and the war and President Nixon on trial.  Here's an excerpt:

"The evidence will show that the seven of us who went to Vietnam spent a total of 111 months over there, received 57 medals and citations, and were all honorably discharged.  The evidence will also show that we threw our medals away out of shame, because we knew that what they stood for was wrong.  For myself, the throwing away of the medals I once cherished was the cutting of the umbilical cord between myself and the government lies, such as, 'We are helping the people of Vietnam,' 'Our purpose is honorable,' the covering up, such as, 'We are not bombing Cambodia,' 'We are not murdering unarmed civilians,' 'We are not bombing hospitals,' the immorality, such as 'free fire zones,' where all life was fair game, to show the American people back home  that we were winning the war by giving them a tool of measurement to judge, and that tool of measurement was the use of dead human beings -- it was called 'body count.'"

On August 31st the jury quickly acquitted all of the defendants. VVAW said at the time:

"The government needed, first of all, to defuse the anti-war issue in the 1972 presidential campaign. What better way to do this was there than by portraying a leading anti-war group as a bunch of vicious killers? With the public outcry caused by the Watergate scandal, a secondary purpose for the trial can be found: an attempt to partially divert attention away from the Watergate affair by fabricating a phony 'threat to national security.' James McCord specifically named VVAW/WSO as the chief villain in this 'threat to national security' and as a justification for their actions."

The Gainesville 8 were John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Don Perdue. All but Briggs were Vietnam veterans.  Kniffin and Patterson are now deceased.

Four of the eight are gathering for a reunion in Gainesville this month: Peter Mahoney, Don Perdue, Alton Foss, and Scott Camil.  Joining them are three of the lawyers who worked on the defense: Larry Turner, Nancy Stearns (Center for Constitutional Rights), and Brady Coleman (Texas National Lawyers Guild).  Also coming are jurors from the trial: Donna Ing, and the husband of Jury Foreperson Lois Hensel who is now deceased.  Plus members of the defense committee: Nancy Miller Saunders, Nancy Burnap, and Carol Gordon. And John Chambers who spent 40 days in jail for refusing to answer questions from the grand jury. And Richard Hudgens who was subpoenaed to the grand jury.  The Oral History Department at the University of Florida will be doing interviews.

I went ahead and did my own interview of Scott Camil.  "We came home from Vietnam," he said, "and saw that the government was not telling the truth about the war.  We exercised the Constitutional rights that we fought to protect and tried to educate the public to the truth.  The government came after us with a vengeance, trampling on our rights in an effort to silence and intimidate us. We stood up to the government and prevailed."

And what has happened since?

"Things have gotten much worse since then -- the illegal activities that brought down President Nixon are now legal.  Then the press accepted its role as the 4th estate.  Today the press has become a propaganda arm of the National Security State.  Today the National Security State wipes its boots on the Constitution.  And the public, rather than standing up for the Constitution, cowers and hides its head in the sand.

"Today's whistleblowers trying to educate the public to what is being done in our name with our tax money are under attack as we once were.  I hope that they are able to prevail as we once did."

Bradley Manning: Imprisoning a National Hero

 

Bradley Manning: Imprisoning a National Hero

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

We're all vulnerable. We're all Bradley Manning. His fate is ours.

 

Charging, prosecuting, convicting, sentencing and imprisoning him reflects the shame of the nation. It reveals its true face.

 

Lawless NSA Spying Exposed

 

Lawless NSA Spying Exposed

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It's longstanding. It's no secret. It's well known. Now we know more. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) deserves credit.

 

On August 21, it headlined "Intelligence Agency Attorney on How 'Multi-Communication Transactions' Allowed for Domestic Surveillance."

‘You Failed to Break the Spirit of Bradley Manning’: An Open Letter to President Obama

By Norman Solomon

Dear President Obama:

As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried -- and failed -- to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning.

Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday, when a statement from Bradley Manning was read aloud to the world. The statement began: The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.”

From the outset, your administration set out to destroy Bradley Manning. As his biographer Chase Madar wrote in The Nation, “Upon his arrest in May 2010, he was locked up in punitive isolation for two months in Iraq and Kuwait, then nine more months at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Prohibited from lying down during the day or exercising, he was forced to respond every five of his waking minutes to a guard’s question: ‘Are you OK?’ In his final weeks of isolation, Manning was deprived of all clothing beyond a tear-proof smock and forced to stand at attention every night in the nude.”

More than nine months after Manning’s arrest, at a news conference you defended this treatment -- which the State Department’s chief spokesman, P.J. Crowley, had just lambasted as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” (Crowley swiftly lost his job.) Later, the UN special rapporteur on torture issued a report on the treatment of Manning: “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

At a fundraiser on April 21, 2011, when asked about Manning, you flatly said: “He broke the law.” His trial would not begin for two more years.

Bradley Manning’s statement after sentencing on Wednesday said: It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

Public accountability is essential to democracy. We can’t have meaningful “consent of the governed” without informed consent. We can’t have moral responsibility without challenging official hypocrisies and atrocities.

Bradley Manning clearly understood that. He didn’t just follow orders or turn his head at the sight of unconscionable policies of the U.S. government. Finding himself in a situation where he could shatter the numbed complacency that is the foundation of war, he cared -- and he took action as a whistleblower.

After being sentenced to many years in prison, Manning conveyed to the American public an acute understanding of our present historic moment: In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

“Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.”

Clearly, Mr. President, you have sought to make an example of Bradley Manning with categorical condemnation and harsh punishment. You seem not to grasp that he has indeed become an example -- an inspiring example of stellar courage and idealism, which millions of Americans now want to emulate.

From the White House, we continue to get puffed-up sugar-coated versions of history, past and present. In sharp contrast, Bradley Manning offers profound insights in his post-sentencing statement: Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy -- the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps -- to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. As the late Howard Zinn once said, ‘There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.’”

Imagine. After more than three years in prison, undergoing methodical abuse and then the ordeal of a long military trial followed by the pronouncement of a 35-year prison sentence, Bradley Manning has emerged with his solid humanistic voice not only intact, but actually stronger than ever!

He acknowledged, I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”

And then Bradley Manning concluded his statement by addressing you directly as president of the United States: “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

You failed to break the spirit of Bradley Manning. And that spirit will continue to inspire.

__________________________________

 

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

Egypt's Reign of Terror

 

Egypt's Reign of Terror

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Mark Twain once said history doesn't repeat. It rhymes. French history includes la Terreur (the Reign of Terror). Dickens called it the best and worst of times.

 

It began in 1789. It promised "liberte, egalite and fraternite. It lasted a decade. It ended a millennium of monarchal rule. It was socially and politically disruptive. It was violent.

 

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