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As part of its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is considering holding some of the detainees indefinitely and without trial on US soil, US media reported Thursday.
President Barack Obama's "administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on US soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay," The Wall Street Journal said....
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who met with White House Counsel Greg Craig this week about the Guantanamo plans, told the Journal that the administration was namely seeking authority for indefinite detentions granted by a national security court.
From Human Rights Watch
Detainee Cases Should Be Transferred to US Federal Courts
WASHINGTON - May 12 - Reviving the discredited US military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees would result in needless litigation, delays, and flawed trials, Human Rights Watch said today. To ensure that terrorism suspects are tried promptly and fairly, the Guantanamo cases should be transferred to US federal courts.
Unnamed officials were quoted in the Washington Post saying that the Obama administration is preparing to restart the military commissions under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections. The new rules would reportedly prohibit the introduction of evidence obtained through coercion, tighten the use of hearsay evidence, and allow detainees greater choice in selecting defense lawyers than under existing military commission rules.
Two Fridays ago on the first day of its release, I went to an early afternoon screening of the film The Soloist. I'd been eager to see it since it focuses on the real life relationship between Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless member of Los Angeles' Skid Row community suffering from debilitating mental illness. In the story, as told in Lopez' columns in the LA Times, in his book, and in the screenplay by Susannah Grant, Lopez first meets middle-aged Nathaniel Ayers in downtown Los Angeles in front of a statue of Beethoven where Ayers is playing a two string violin. In that serendipitous meeting Lopez discovers that as a youth Ayers had been a gifted student at Juilliard, New York's prestigious school for the performing arts. This revelation leads Lopez on a personal mission to rehabilitate the troubled man - a mission Lopez is still on today, four years after their first encounter.
My intense desire to see this film had been predicated, foolishly as I have since come to learn, on the romantic notion that viewers would see The Soloist and be moved to help the homeless. But the film I saw, with its cartoon-like unsympathetic portrayal of the people of Skid Row, that displayed none of their individuality, humanity or humor, would never provoke such action. Instead of showing the hearts of the inhabitants and telling a few of their tales, the film portrayed them as a Fellini-esque monolith - a tainted Gomorrah teeming with decadence and dereliction.
At a press conference to mark his first 100 days in office, President Obama declared, “We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and banning torture without exception.” I have looked at the President’s misleading statement about Guantánamo, and analyzed his progress -- or lack of it -- in closing the prison in a previous article, and in this second article I’m going to focus on his assertion that the new administration has been responsible for “banning torture without exception.”
By Michael Haas
Muddled thinking characterizes a May 6 Wall Street Journal column by Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain about those confined in American-run prisons abroad. They reject Geneva Convention trial requirements and even military courts-martial, preferring to have Congress write new guidelines for their imprisonment and trials beyond those in the untested and possibly unconstitutional Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Defying war crimes provisions that have been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court, they fail to recognize that those collected on Afghanistan battlefields are prisoners of war, are fully covered by the Geneva Conventions, and cannot be held indefinitely. Such prisoners are entitled to hearings to determine whether they are indeed “enemies” or were mistakenly captured.
By Corey Robin and Jeanne Theoharis
We’re writing to update you on the case of Syed Fahad Hashmi, our former student at Brooklyn College who is still being held in solitary confinement awaiting trial on four counts of providing material support to Al Qaeda. We’d like to ask you to email this new Administration about his case (to do so, please go to: http://www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org/HashmiRights.html).
An American academic is to be prosecuted for drawing parallels between the plight of Gazans and that of the Jews who suffered under Nazi rule.
Jewish Sociology and Global Studies Professor William Robinson of the University of Santa Barbara in California sent the electronic post entitled 'Parallel photos of Nazis and Israelis' to 80 students in his class, Ynet reported on Thursday.
Book Can Now Be Ordered, Book Tour Being Planned
You can now pre-order my book at Amazon.com
Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two)
By Andy Worthington | www.andyworthington.co.uk
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, analyzes ten particularly disturbing facts to emerge from the four memos, purporting to justify the use of torture by the CIA, which were issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in August 2002 and May 2005, and released by the Obama administration last week. The first part of this two-part article, available here, looked at the background to the August 2002 memo and its disturbing contents, provided an overview of the three memos issued in May 2005, examined the use of the ticking time-bomb scenario as a justification for torture, and highlighted the excessive use of waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the crucial differences between the torture technique as practised by the CIA and in the military schools where it was used to train soldiers to resist interrogation when captured by a hostile enemy. This article was originally published here.
6: The 94 “ghost prisoners”
Another disturbing revelation of Bradbury’s May 2005 memos was the disclosure of the number of prisoners held in secret CIA custody — 94 in total — and the additional note that the agency “has employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these detainees.” What’s disturbing is not the number — CIA director Michael Hayden admitted in July 2007 that the CIA had detained fewer than 100 people at secret facilities abroad since 2002 — but the insight that this exact figure provides into the supremely secretive world of “extraordinary rendition” and secret prisons that exists beyond the cases of the 14 “high-value detainees” who were transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA custody in September 2006.
U.S. Accountability: The Difficult But Necessary Task | Press Release
NEW YORK, May 1 – The first 100 days of the Obama administration marked a policy change in the treatment of terrorism suspects. But it has not yet answered the questions, “What is to be done about what is known?” and “What is still hidden from public view?” They can best be answered by appointing a special prosecutor and establishing an independent commission of inquiry.
On Wednesday, April 29, 2009, the Board and Staff of the Equal Justice Society sent the following to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
The Equal Justice Society would like to go on record as supporting the call to start a criminal investigation by a special counsel into harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects. We have been shocked by recent revelations of abuses that were committed in our name as Americans. We were shocked to learn that our government used tactics perfected during the Spanish Inquisition and refined by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. As a civil rights organization, we denounced the use of torture during the Bush administration to no avail. Now as a country, we have an opportunity to reclaim our honor.
NEW YORK – A federal appeals court today ruled that a landmark American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in the Bush administration's unlawful extraordinary rendition program can go forward. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit, brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The government had intervened, improperly asserting the "state secrets" privilege to have the case thrown out. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit.
Quarantine may seem the stuff of mediocre melodramas, but if the swine flu explodes into an epidemic, involuntary isolation could become a reality for more than a few unlucky Americans.
So far the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 68 documented cases of swine flu in the United States, with at least seven people hospitalized. And New York Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced that "many hundreds" of New York City schoolchildren are sick with suspected cases of swine flu. Across the country, in Los Angeles, the coroner's office is investigating two possible deaths.
By Dave Lindorff
For almost a generation, the Democrats in Congress have been able to pretend to be the party of ordinary working people, the party of progressives, and the inheritor of the mantel of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, all the while doing little of substance and catering primarily to the interests of Wall Street and the nation’s corporate interests.
The Democrats managed this sleight of hand for so long by claiming that while they had the best of intentions, reality, in the form of their inability to pass legislation, even when they were in the majority in both houses of Congress, that could avoid being filibustered to death by a Republican minority.
That situation has continued to this day, with the party currently having 58 seats in the Senate.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) last week reintroduced several bills that he said were needed to limit presidential power and to restore the proper constitutional balance among the three branches of government.
By Harry Giroux | Truthout
With the election of Barack Obama, it has been argued that not only will the social state be renewed in the spirit and legacy of the New Deal, but that the punishing racial state and its vast complex of disciplinary institutions will, if not come to an end, at least be significantly reformed. From this perspective, Obama's presidency not only represents a post-racial victory, but also signals a new space of post-racial harmony. In assessing the Obama victory, Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein wrote, "It is a place where the primacy of racial identity - and this includes the old Jesse Jackson version of black racial identity - has been replaced by the celebration of pluralism, of cross-racial synergy." Obama won the 2008 election because he was able to mobilize 95 percent of African-Americans, two-thirds of all Latinos and a large proportion of young people under the age of 30. At the same time, what is generally forgotten in the exuberance of this assessment is that the majority of white Americans voted for the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket. While "post-racial" may mean less overt racism, the idea that we have moved into a post-racial period in American history is not merely premature - it is an act of willful denial and ignorance. Paul Ortiz puts it well in his comments on the myth of post-racialism:
The idea that we've moved to a post-racial period in American social history is undermined by an avalanche of recent events. Hurricane Katrina. The US Supreme Court's dismantling of Brown vs. Board of Education and the resegregation of American schools. The Clash of Civilizations thesis that promotes the idea of a War against Islam. The backlash facing immigrant workers. A grotesque prison industrial complex. [Moreover] ... [w]hile Americans were being robbed blind and primed for yet another bailout of the banks and investment sectors, they were treated to new evidence from Fox News and poverty experts that the great moral threats facing the nation were greedy union workers, black single mothers, Latino gang bangers and illegal immigrants.
From the earliest days of its "war on terrorism," the Bush Administration has been intent on giving generous legal cover to government officials, CIA operatives, and others responsible for brutalizing detainees in U.S. custody. Its latest attempt to grant impunity for abuses comes in the form of proposed amendments to the War Crimes Act, a federal statute that criminalizes violations of the laws of war.
Last week, the Administration circulated the text of its proposed legislation to selected members of Congress. The draft bill, which would amend subsection c3 of the War Crimes Act, is a direct response to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
In Hamdan, the Court found that Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions was applicable to alleged members of al Qaeda captured in Afghanistan. Common Article 3 (so named because it appears in all four of the Geneva Conventions) aims to protect detainees from murder, torture, cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment, unfair trials, and "outrages upon personal dignity."
Common Article 3, in short, bars many of the measures that have been used against detainees in U.S. custody abroad. Hence the Bush Administration's concern.
Watch how the technology works: click "Read more."
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.