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By Dave Lindorff
Enough is enough. It’s time to free John Walker Lindh, poster boy for George Bush’s, Dick Cheney’s and John Ashcroft’s “War on Terror,” and quite likely first victim of these men’s secret campaign of torture.
Lindh is in the seventh year of a 20-year sentence for “carrying a weapon” in Afghanistan and for “providing assistance” to an enemy of the United States. The first charge is ridiculously minor (after all, it’s what almost everyone in Texas does everyday). The second is actually a violation of a law intended for use against US companies that trade with proscribed countries on a government “no trade” list like Cuba or North Korea. Ordinarily, violation results in a fine for the executives involved.
THE AUDACITY OF WAR CRIMES - DEFEND THE "MARCH OF THE DEAD" PARTICIPANTS
On January 6, 2009, seventy people came to Washington D.C. from all over the United States to participate in the "MARCH OF THE DEAD."
Contact the Office of the Attorney General, District of Columbia to demand that the charges against Laurie Arbeiter, Robbie Diesu, Michelle Grise and Pete Perry be dropped:
- Attorney General, Peter Nickles at 202-724-1301
- Assistant Attorney General, Elizabeth A. Meyers at 202-727-4783
By Dave Lindorff
For some time now, many Americans have wondered how Congress, the elected body that the nation’s Founding Fathers saw as the bulwark of liberty, could have been so thoroughly unwilling to, or incapable of challenging the dictatorial power-grabs and the eight-year Constitution wrecking campaign of the Bush/Cheney administration.
There has been speculation on both the far left and the far right, and even among some in the apolitical, cynical middle of the political spectrum, that somehow the Bush/Cheney administration must have been blackmailing at least the key members of the Congressional leadership, most likely through the use of electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency (NSA).
By Dave Lindorff
If the day comes that Congress finally does its duty and begins an impeachment effort against 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, the former Bush assistant attorney general who in 2002 authored a key memo justifying the use of torture against captives in the Afghanistan invasion and the so-called “War on Terror,” it would be fitting punishment to watch him squirm as his own words as a judge were played back to him.
It was as an Appeals Court Judge Bybee, sitting on a case being heard in 2006 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that he wrote the following words:
Since fatuously declaring his to be a "change" administration, President Barack Obama has quickly donned the blood-spattered mantle of state secrecy and executive privilege worn by the Bush regime.
On Friday April 3, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss one of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) landmark lawsuits against illegal spying by the National Security Agency (NSA).
That suit, Jewell v. NSA, was filed last September against the NSA, NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence. But with the departure of the Bush gang, the defendants now include President Barack Obama, NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence.
When the suit was filed against the government, EFF declared:
The lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. ("EFF Sues NSA, President Bush and Vice President Cheney to Stop Illegal Surveillance," Electronic Frontier Foundation, Press Release, September 18, 2008)
Obama, Our New “War President,” Violates the Constitution by Fighting the Constitutional Right of Habeas Corpus
Obama made many promises, and three stick in my memory — to restore civil rights stolen by Bushman, end the looting on Wall Street, and bring the troops home from Iraq. In a word, “change.” Looking at the results achieved in the last three months on all three fronts, it appears that Americans have been taken for chumps, because if what we’ve got is change, it’s surprisingly indistinguishable from the same old-same old, as our charismatic leader would put it. Today, I’m going to talk about how he’s chosen to continue as our “war president,” and why he should change course now, for the good of the nation.
The Evil of Arbitrary Arrest Under The Tyrannical Authority of “General Warrants” and “Bills of Attainder”
Until you have been subjected to it, you can hardly imagine the terrors inflicted by despots using brute force to arrest and imprison people without cause. I have represented people who were arrested and imprisoned on false charges, but even that does not compare to being arrested for no reason whatsoever. People arrested for no reason naturally fear that they may never be released. Certainly, those detained for no reason are much more likely to be tortured and killed in secret. After all, if you can be arrested for no reason, why would you need a reason to go farther, and commit torture, or simply eliminate the problem? Lots of people like to say it was taxes that caused the revolution, but I suspect unlawful detention was by far the more powerful driver of rebellion. The Declaration of Independence accused King George of a “long train of abuses” agains the American colonists, among them:
Depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: Transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
By Dave Lindorff
Back in 1965, as a 15-year-old kid, I had a chance to spend half a year as a student at a boy’s gymnasium (high school) in Darmstadt, the cultural capital of the German state of Hesse, which had the distinction of having been one of a handful of cities in Germany (Dresden was another) that were selected by the Allies to test out the terror tactic of firebombing. The town was chosen for incendiary bombardment precisely because it had no military value and thus, no air defenses (and because it consisted mostly of wooden structures). With Germany still wreaking horrific damage on the Allied bomber fleet, this made it an inviting target.
NEW YORK STORY: Fan Busted For Bathroom Break At Wrong Time
NYCLU Sues NYPD on Behalf of Baseball Fan Ejected From Yankees Stadium During ‘God Bless America’
April 15, 2009 — The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of a Queens man who was ejected from the old Yankee Stadium last August after trying to use the restroom during “God Bless America.”
The lawsuit maintains that Bradford Campeau-Laurion, a 30-year-old lifelong baseball fan and resident of Astoria, was the victim of religious and political discrimination on Aug. 26, 2008 when police officers forcibly restrained and ejected him from Yankee Stadium after he tried to walk past an officer during the playing of “God Bless America.”
THE "GRANNY 7" SCORE ONE FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT
by Joan Wile, member of the Granny Peace Brigade
The "Granny 7," the seven intrepid women of the Granny Peace Brigade who were arrested and jailed on March 18, 2009, when they protested at the Times Square recruiting station against the Afghanistan war escalation and the retention of 50,000 troops in Iraq after the official withdrawal date, achieved a victory April 14 for the First Amendment principle protecting peaceful protest.
At a court appearance at Manhattan Community Court, it was declared that the City of New York "declined to prosecute." It would seem that the decision was influenced by the arrest of 18 Granny Peace Brigade members on Oct. 17, 2005, when they tried to enlist at the Times Square recruiting center to replace America's grandchildren in harm's way in Iraq. Those grannies were put on trial for six days in criminal court at the end of which they were acquitted. The resultant world-wide publicity did nothing to polish the image of the Big Apple -- photographs and television footage of old women being handcuffed and poured into paddy wagons for non-violent protest tended to make New York's Finest look more like New York's Meanest.
From Defending Dissent Foundation
The Defending Dissent Foundation, founded 50 years ago to protect the First Amendment rights of Communists, added its voice to the protest against a DHS report on "Rightwing Extremism". The report, issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at DHS cites the economic downturn and the election of Barack Obama as "unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment." The report notes that there is no indication that these groups are planning any criminal acts but implies that certain political groups are potential threats.
Leon Panetta, the CIA director, has been described by some officials as initially favoring release, then later pulling back from that view. Other officials say Mr. Panetta always favored releasing only legal outlines. Making those details public, one official said, would make CIA officials disinclined to take any risks in the future.
Editorial note: Gee whiz, does that mean that the CIA is worried that it would have to abide by international treaties to which the US is a signatory, and therefore, the treaties are part of our Constitution, in the future? Just asking...
By Jason Leopold, The Public Record
A U.S. Army soldier who was allegedly forced to attend fundamentalist Christian themed events and sued Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claiming his First Amendment rights were violated should not be permitted to seek relief in federal court because he failed to take his grievances to his superiors, the Justice Department said in court documents filed last week in response to the Army’s soldier’s federal lawsuit.
To follow up on my recent posting, “Obama’s Surveillance State Targets PCs, Laptops and Media Devices,” Computerworld reported on March 15th, in “Obama administration says treaty text is state secret”:
The Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), part of President Barack Obama’s office, has denied a company’s request for information about a secretive anticounterfeiting trade agreement being negotiated, citing national security concerns. . . .
The USTR under Obama seems to be taking the same position about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which New Zealand and a number of other countries are negotiating, as it did under former President George Bush, that the treaty documents are not open to the public. One of Obama’s campaign promises was to make government more open and responsive to the public.
By Dave Lindorff
Reading the latest AP report on how American citizens are being snatched up, detained and deported (sic) by the Immigration and Naturalization Service has reminded me just what a screwed up place this country has become.
Ever since September 11, 2001, the country has simply lost it.
` Remember back then, no sooner had the dust settled over Lower Manhattan, than the INS and other police agencies began rounding up thousands of people with Muslim sounding names, or even with non-Muslim sounding names but Muslim-looking faces, and locking them away in federal and county detention centers, with no access to lawyers. People who were here on grants of asylum because of political persecution in their home countries were being shipped home to likely torture and death, without any hearings.
You know how when the weather starts to warm, the gym is buzzing with people toning to achieve that perfect beach body? Starting this summer, abs of steel will be in season anytime you fly.
Yesterday, Slate’s William Saletan wrote about the TSA’s new policy towards body scanner —a.k.a. "naked"—machines. Saletan points out that two years ago, the naked machines were offered as an alternative to physical pat-down searches to passengers who set off the metal detectors or were flagged for a secondary screening. Naked machines were considered less invasive than the grope-and-grab.
Well, the alternative will soon become the norm this summer, when the strip-search machines will replace the metal detectors in several U.S. airports. That’s right: this summer, you will no longer have a choice of whether to enter the naked machine or not. As Saletan puts it, the choice is "Show us your body, or we’ll feel you up."
We’ve written about these machines before, but all you really need to do is look at this picture to see what a "millimeter wave" machine shows airport security. Mortified yet? USA Today found that most flyers had no idea how graphic the naked machines’ images are, even before they stepped inside and subjected themselves to these virtual strip-searches.
One of the points that Saletan makes is that what was formerly voluntary is now mandatory. We hate to say “I told you so,” but this is the classic way that invasive technologies reach us: the authorities make them as palatable as possible to get the public to swallow them (they’ll say it’s "voluntary," or "applied only in certain cases," and tell you it’s chock-full of privacy protections). Then once they’re accepted, they become more and more intrusive in all the ways the ACLU always warns against.
GoLeft: Gay Marriage Ad, VA Pressures Doctors on PTSD, & Obama Expands on Bush Telecom Immunity Claims
Anti Gay Marriage Ad Full of Lies; Doctors Pressured to Under Diagnose Post Traumatic Stress; Obama Expands on Bush Telecom Immunity Claims
By David Swanson
Virginia is for lovers, but there's a terrorist behind every dogwood. Or so you might gather from the "2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment" by the "Commonwealth of Virginia Department of State Police Virginia Fusion Center" which is part federal and therefore not Virginian and part private and therefore not commonwealth. The motto of the fusion center on the cover of the report reads "Scienta Est Potentia," but they forgot to add that a little bit of scienta can be dangerous.
The ACLU and Raw Story have been criticizing this report and others by other fusion centers for their tendency to advocate tossing out the Bill of Rights in order to spy on people associated with organizations whose names almost rhyme with those of other organizations once frequented by someone whose cousin had heard first-hand a story about a real live terrorist.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office is preparing to drop terrorism charges against the so-called RNC Eight, according to a source close to discussions about the high-profile prosecutions. The group of activists, who have been accused of a criminal conspiracy to disrupt the Republican National Convention, will still face felony charges of criminal conspiracy to riot and damage property.
This means that the defendants will no longer be subject to a possible 50-percent enhancement in their prison sentences if ultimately convicted of the charges. The RNC Eight (pictured) are believed to be the first defendants ever charged under the Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act.
Judge Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton and to local courts by Republican presidents, has indicated deep misgivings about what has transpired at Guantanamo. “I mean, this Guantanamo issue is a travesty. It ranks up there with the internment of Japanese-American citizens years ago,” the judge said at last week’s hearing. “It's a horror story in the American system of jurisprudence.” Kollar-Kotelly expressed her ire in two recent orders castigating the government for repeatedly ignoring deadlines she had set to produce evidence to lawyers for four Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo. She said she had “lost all confidence” in a DOJ attorney assigned to the case. And in the Miami case, Judge Gold said, "It’s more than just mistakes. Important safeguards were not met." Two prosecutors involved in the case have been reassigned.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned a judge's decision to give Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay a 30-day notice of where the U.S. government will send them when they are released.
A federal judge had ordered the government to give a month's notice before releasing nine Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurz) so they could challenge the decision of where to send them.
The Uighurs at Guantanamo are no longer regarded as enemy combatants by the United States. But U.S. authorities have rejected calls by China to return the detainees, citing fears of persecution.
Obama Administration Embraces Bush Position on Warrantless Wiretapping and Secrecy
Says Court Must Dismiss Jewel v. NSA to Protect 'State Secrets'
San Francisco - The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration's position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency's (NSA's) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.
We had hoped this would go differently.
Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration's made two deeply troubling arguments.
DATE: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
TIME: 11:00 a.m.
LOCATION: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 385, Washington, DC 20510
Click "Read More" for event details and RSVP info.
Those who hoped that the change promised by candidate Barack Obama would include repeal of the various acts that have stripped Americans of their constitutional rights should be disappointed. Benjamin Franklin supposedly wrote, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." The citation is likely apocryphal, at least in terms of its attribution to Franklin, but it is useful shorthand for the unfortunate abandonment of many of the liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution as a consequence of 9/11. The trauma of 9/11 created an opportunity for those seeking to centralize executive power, an objective of recent presidents from both political parties. Many Americans initially accepted that there had to be some abridgment of fundamental liberties while fighting a multi-faceted and unconventional war against terrorism, but few realize just how much the constitutional rights that all citizens take for granted have been eroded. History also teaches us that once a right is suspended, in all likelihood it is gone forever.