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Civil Rights / Liberties
By Dave Lindorff
A few days ago, I sent off an article I had just written on assignment to the editor of a magazine which was preparing to run it. A few moments later, I got an email back: he had just been fired and the magazine was being shut down by the publisher. My story, for which I had expected to be paid $1500, was toast.
When I tried to write back a reply to the editor, I got a message saying that my email message was “undeliverable.”
I called the editor (who worked from home) on his cell phone and, still sounding shell-shocked, he informed me that immediately after notifying him, with no warning, that he was being axed, the publisher had eliminated his company email account and had blocked him from accessing the company’s server, thus effectively cutting him off from all the contacts he had developed over his years at the company.
John Yoo authored the Bush memos on torture and suspending civil liberties. But an upcoming Justice Department report could contain new revelations—perhaps that the memos were written to provide legal cover for programs already in place....Yoo is also the target of a civil lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla....Yoo’s defense rests on highly technical arguments of immunity, directly contradicting the basic position taken by the United States in the London accords of 1945 that a defense of immunity would not be available to officials involved in the abuse of prisoners.
A new Justice Department report could contain a bombshell that would spell fresh legal trouble for top Bush officials. The report may link controversial memos on civil liberties and torture—written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo—directly to the White House, putting Yoo and other Bushies in the crosshairs of criminal prosecution.
Fax your Health Insurance Bills to Congress! (With a note that says Please Cosponsor H Res 676.)
Guantanamo Under Obama
by Stephen Lendman
As The New York Times reported on January 22, Barack Obama signed Executive Orders (EOs) banning torture and "directing the CIA to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantanamo detention camp within a year, government official said."
The closure EO is titled: "Executive Order -- Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities."
by Linda Milazzo
Certainly no person aware of Israel's blockade of goods and services to Gaza, or Israel's devastating bombing of Gaza, would consider Gaza a vacation haven. Gaza is not a place of joy. It’s an overcrowded war-zone populated by more than a million terrified men, women and children. They subsist amidst the rubble caused by Israel's missiles that crushed their homes and killed their loved ones. They inhabit a tiny strip of land that can be driven across in two hours. They have no space for recreation. They have no scenic boulevards and tony cafes. Even their beach is a danger. Their lives are a daily challenge of fear, illness, hunger, anguish, poverty, joblessness, homelessness and physical and emotional wounds.
Israel, on the other hand, which propagates its struggle for survival and its imminent danger as rationale for killing and imprisoning Palestinians, is promoted as a vacation oasis. Witness the glory of Israel from the video below that loops frequently on local Los Angeles TV. No fear, hunger, rubble or homelessness appear in this portrayal of Israel. Only beauty, riches and joy.
In a California federal court, President Obama's Justice Department is defending former Bush official John Yoo, author of the so-called "torture memo."
Yoo is being sued by Jose Padilla, currently serving 17 years in prison for conspiring to provide support to Islamist extremists. Padilla's lawyers say that Yoo's memos on interrogation policies led to his detention and torture.
The Obama Justice Department moved to dismiss the case before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.
Up to 1,000 Amnesty International Activists to Convene in Boston For Annual National Conference, March 27-29, 2009
Up to 1,000 Amnesty International Activists to Convene in Boston For Annual National Conference, March 27-29, 2009 | Press Release
Renowned Speakers Address Immigration Detention, Human Rights and the Obama Administration; Honor Women's Human Rights Defenders
Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) members, staff and activists from across the country will tackle some of the most pressing human rights issues facing the world today at the organization's 2009 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Boston, March 27-29.
The conference, "Seizing the Moment, Building the Movement", will be held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers. The public is invited to attend. Registration is $100 for the weekend and $25 for Saturday.
Andy Worthington, a London-based journalist, is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, and has written over 300 articles about Guantánamo in the last two years, for publications including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and AlterNet, the Raw Story and the Future of Freedom Foundation. This week he published the first definitive list of all the prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo, with links and references to their stories. In a statement, he explained, “It is my hope that this project will provide an invaluable research tool for those seeking to understand how it came to pass that the government of the United States turned its back on domestic and international law, establishing torture as official US policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects to be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as ‘illegal enemy combatants.’” Following the publication of the list, journalist Elizabeth Ferrari interviewed Andy by email.
Yes, We Did Plan for Mumbai-Style Attacks in the U.S.
Why the latest assault on Bush antiterror strategy could make us less safe.
By John Yoo | WSJ
In releasing these memos, the Obama administration may be attempting to appease its antiwar base -- which won't bother to read the memos in full -- or trying to look good for the chattering classes.
Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.
After 9/11, we had a responsibility to consider all possible threats.
Modern Slavery in America
by Stephen Lendman
Called human trafficking or forced labor, modern slavery thrives in America, largely below the radar. A 2004 UC Berkeley study cites it mainly in five sectors:
- prostitution and sex services - 46%;
- domestic service - 27%;
- agriculture - 10%;
- sweatshops or factories - 5%;
- restaurant and hotel work - 4%; with the remainder coming from:
- sexual exploitation of children, entertainment, and mail-order brides.
It persists for lack of regulation, work condition monitoring, and a growing demand for cheap labor enabling unscrupulous employers and criminal networks to exploit powerless workers for profit.
A suspected al-Qaeda agent has had an appeal against his military detention in the US rejected, days after he was charged with a terrorism offence.
US Supreme Court judges sided with government lawyers, who argued that Ali al-Marri was no longer in military custody so his appeal was invalid.
The 43-year-old, a joint Saudi-Qatari national, has been in custody in South Carolina since 2003.
He was known as the last "enemy combatant" held on US soil.
Today is a good moment to give some thought to one of the worst remaining legacies of the Bush era, the prison where that administration's grotesque offshore detention policies -- the beatings, the torture, the works -- were first put into play, the prison that has yet to go away. And as Karen Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law and the author of a striking new book, The Least Worst Place, Guantanamo's First 100 Days, points out, it's not, as you might expect, Guantanamo, but our grim prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Release of Memos Fuels Push for Inquiry Into Bush’s Terror-Fighting Policies
By Charlie Savage and Neil A. Lewis | NYTimes
But David B. Rivkin Jr., an associate White House counsel under the first President Bush who is scheduled to testify at the hearing on Wednesday, said he planned to urge Congress not to move forward with that proposal, which he said would violate the rights of Bush administration officials and set them up for prosecutions by foreign courts.“They want to pillory people,” Mr. Rivkin said. “They want to destroy their reputation. They want to drag them through the mud and single them out for foreign prosecutions. And if you get someone in a perjury trap, so much the better.”
Two Spokespeople for Americans Will Join 118 Lobbyists Etc. at the Healthcare Summit - Rally Cancelled
This afternoon we received word that Dr. Oliver Fein, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, has been invited to participate in tomorrow's White House summit on health care. He will therefore be joining Rep. John Conyers in the meeting as a strong advocate for a single-payer national health program.
Given this development, we are canceling the demonstration outside the White House that was planned for tomorrow.
While it remains true that the number of single-payer advocates in the summit will be few in number, we feel we have won an important victory and that demonstrative activity at the White House at this juncture is unnecessary.
Please continue to urge your members of Congress and President Obama to support single-payer national health insurance, the only fundamental solution to our health care crisis.
I am prompted to respond to your most recent column because I can't help but wonder where the fuck you've been for the past eight years.
"You wouldn't know it some days, but there are moderates in this country - moderate conservatives, moderate liberals, just plain moderates."
Yeah, please forgive we liberals for forgetting you were out there - a situation undoubtedly triggered by the fact that you so-called "moderates" were busy plastering "Support the Troops" bumper-stickers on your cars, and affixing flag-pins to your lapels while the Bush administration was being - oh, yeah, what's the word? - IMMODERATE in every policy and action. Where were you then?
US Justice Department memos: the specter of military dictatorship
By Bill Van Auken | WSWS
A set of nine secret memos released by the US Justice Department Monday reveal that in the weeks and months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the US government began erecting the legal scaffolding for a full-blown military dictatorship.
Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the release of the documents, which were posted on the Justice Department's web site, signaled a new era of "transparency and openness." The actions of the Obama administration in recent weeks, however, including the invocation of national security and state secrets to quell lawsuits challenging the worst abuses of the Bush era, make it clear that the threat revealed in these memos is far from over.
Cheney Deposition Is Ordered in Lawsuit by Protester
By Kirk Johnson | NYTimes
Former Vice President Dick Cheney will have to give his account — under oath, in a legal deposition — of what happened at a Colorado ski resort in June 2006 when a man stepped up to protest the Iraq war and was arrested, a federal district judge ruled Monday.
The protester, Steven Howards, sued five Secret Service agents in Mr. Cheney’s security detail after the encounter at the Beaver Creek resort. Mr. Howards’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Cheney’s version of events is crucial to getting at the truth.
DOJ Memos Reveal Legal Thinking Behind Controversial Bush Terrorism Policy
Legal Guidance Gave U.S. Military Broad Domestic Authority
By Ariane De Vogue, Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan | ABCNews
The Justice Department today released nine national security legal opinions written by the Bush administration, and revealed that in the weeks before President George W. Bush left office, an administration attorney had disavowed all of them.
The newly released memos deal with warrantless wire tapping, executive power and the seizure of terrorism suspects, all of which were issues on which the Bush administration received criticism from civil liberties advocates.
Good work! those of you who called the White House to complain.
Rally is still on for tomorrow at noon!
By Corporate Crime Reporter [reporting what Chairman Conyers should be reporting himself but is apparently afraid to]
President Obama’s White House made crystal clear this week: a Canadian-style, Medicare-for-all, single payer health insurance system is off the table.
Obama doesn't even want to discuss it.
Take the case of Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan).
Conyers is the leading advocate for single payer health insurance in Congress.
Last week, Conyers attended a Congressional Black Caucus meeting with President Obama at the White House.
During the meeting, Congressman Conyers, sponsor of the single payer bill in the House (HR 676), asked President Obama for an invite to the President’s Marchy 5 health care summit at the White House.
Andy Worthington, London-based journalist and author of "The Guantánamo Files" (Pluto Press), today releases the first definitive list of the 779 prisoners held in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Links to the list:
If you want everyone in the United States to have health coverage simply paid for by the government for less money than we spend now, eliminating all health insurance companies, but allowing you to choose any private doctor or hospital of your choice, and boosting the economy with a net gain of 2.6 million jobs ...
and if you can be near a telephone or be in Washington, D.C., on March 5th, 10th, or 11th, keep reading.
Here's an announcement of the March 5th event from Physicians for a National Health Program:
White Coats To Crowd the White House Gate Thursday
March 5, 12pm -1pm The White House Lafayette Park, Washington, DC
Doctors criticize exclusion of single-payer advocates from summit
President Obama is holding a Healthcare Summit on Thursday, March 5th. Over 120 are expected to be in attendance, including representatives from Americas Health Insurance Plans, the largest group of private health insurance lobbyists.
A new memo shows just how far the Bush administration considered going in fighting the war on terror.
By Michael Isikoff | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Mar 2, 2009
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.
Many of the actions discussed in the Oct. 23, 2001, memo to then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's chief lawyer, William Haynes, were never actually taken.
By Dave Lindorff
The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on a comic aspect.
On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration, there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken the law in serious and felonious ways.
What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t. It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it isn’t.
There is really no middle ground here.
By Leigh Ann Caldwell, Swing State
One group is being left out of the White House’s health reform forum Thursday: supporters of single payer health care.
President Obama has promised an open discussion as he begins an aggressive push for health care reform. Obama said Monday he is “bringing together business and labor, doctors and insurers, Democrats and Republicans” to discuss.
Progressive Democrats of America and Physicians for a National Health Program, leading proponents of expanding Medicare, government-run health care to cover all Americans, have not been invited and are “seeking” and invitation.
John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has become Congress’ leader for single payer. He has authored H.R. 676, the model bill for single payer advocates, which has 59 cosponsors. He too has not yet received an invitation.
The Department of Justice today released two previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memoranda and seven previously undisclosed opinions.
"Americans deserve a government that operates with transparency and openness," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "It is my goal to make OLC opinions available when possible while still protecting national security information and ensuring robust internal executive branch debate and decision-making."
The disproportionate and indiscriminate actions by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead rightly earned Israel's leaders international opprobrium, and in some cases the verbal outrage was backed by concrete sanctions. Having last year declared an upgrading of relations with Israel, the EU decided last month to put the process on hold in the wake of the carnage in Gaza.