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Stop Recruiting Kids! | Press Release | June 4, 2009
UPDATE ON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EFFORTS TO INVALIDATE THE ARCATA AND EUREKA YOUTH PROTECTION ACTS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA vs. CITIES OF EUREKA AND ARCATA, CA
On Tuesday, June 9 at 1pm, in Courtroom 3 at the Oakland Federal Courthouse, Federal Court Judge Saundra Armstrong is scheduled to hear oral arguments regarding the Arcata and Eureka Youth Protection Acts. These ordinances prohibit military recruiters from initiating contact with minors for the purpose of recruiting them into any branch of the military. They were approved as ballot initiative Measures F and J, on November 4, 2008 by margins of 73% in Arcata and 57% in Eureka.
President Barack Obama's much-anticipated Cairo speech reflected a significant shift away from the ideological framework of militarism and unilateralism that shaped the Bush administration's war-based policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds. His "not Bush" focus was perhaps most sharply evident in his public denunciation of the Iraq War as a "war of choice." Obama's call for a "new beginning" based on "the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition" was followed by a move to shift the official U.S. discourse towards something closer to internationalism - particularly by pointing to parallels between historical (and some contemporary) grievances and treating them as equivalent. This included his reference to the U.S. "role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government" along with Iran's "role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians."
Certainly, the equivalences were limited. Equating Palestinians and Israelis as "two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history..." doesn't reflect the reality that Israel is an occupying power with specific obligations under the Geneva Convention, while Palestinians living under occupation are a protected population under international law. But in the context of decades of U.S. privileging of Israelis as the only ones who have suffered, equating the two was a major step forward.
As expected, Obama focused first on the historic contributions of Arabs and Muslims to global civilization and to U.S. culture and history. His articulation of U.S. policy - and particularly U.S. active obligations - on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were addressed only in broad strokes, although there was more detail regarding Iran.
The shift in discourse, away from justifying reckless imperial hubris, unilateralism and militarism and towards a more cooperative and potentially even internationalist approach was potent. The actual policy shifts were much smaller. It remains the work of mobilized people across the U.S. - starting with the millions who mobilized to build a movement capable of electing Barack Hussein Obama as President - to turn that new language into new policies - reversing the escalation and moving towards ending Obama's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ending the occupation of Iraq immediately rather than years from now, ending U.S. military aid to Israel and creating a policy based on an end to occupation and equality for all, launching new negotiations with Iran not based on military threats, implementing U.S. nuclear disarmament obligations, and more.
That's the next step.
Time to Look Past Obama’s Words and Face-up to His Actions
U.S. Foreign Policy Continues Rapidly in the Wrong Direction
The Peace Movement Needs to Escalate Anti-War Actions
By Kevin Zeese | Voters for Peace, Prosperity Agenda.US
There is long-time saying about politicians: you cannot trust their words, but must judge them by their actions.
President Obama is very good with words, perhaps the best communicator we have seen in the White House in a generation. But now he has been in office long enough that he should be judged on his actions.
The direction of U.S. foreign policy is moving rapidly in the wrong direction on many fronts. It is time for the peace movement to step up its activities throughout the country and demand a change in course.
As one of the teeming teens who wrote letters to NBC in the late sixties urging execs to keep Star Trek on the air, I've often felt vindicated by the success of the franchise. And so I felt an odd disquiet after my mother and my wife opted on seeing Star Trek and dinner out to celebrate Mother's Day. I'm sure they did it to sweeten the deal for two grown sons and me, but it was an oddly appropriate choice. The film opens with a heroic child delivery, along with a nascent notion that something's not right about this film, maybe this culture.
By opening his film in a Star Trek universe pre-altered by a vicious tattooed time traveler, director J.J. Abrams dodges several space mines. First he shields the film from sentimentality. Because the movie's pre-history is all wrong, the appearance of so many familiar characters in the bloom of youth serves for more than misting the eyes of aging Trekkies. It obliterates the original series, in which Captain Kirk's father lives on, Spock's mother lives on, the planet Vulcan is very much with us, Uhuru kisses Kirk, not Spock, and so on.
Altering history through time travel has become a hackneyed plot device, sure, but using it on such a cultural touchstone is a stroke of dark genius.
Newsweek recently featured a cover story suggesting Obama must be a Vulcan.
Let's hope not, for this film is a betrayal of Spock, indeed the Star Trek canon. Not because of the changed prehistory, per se, but for the dark uses Abrams puts it to. Read more.
Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, short story writer and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is finishing a novel, "Oracle of the Orchid Lounge," set in his native Tennessee and Iraq. His book of selected journalism, "Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best Writings About People" by Don Williams, is due a second printing. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit NMW website.
American troops made substantial errors and did not strictly follow rules for avoiding casualties during an air assault on Taliban fighters last month, a U.S. defense official said, underscoring a central quandary for President Barack Obama's new Afghan counterinsurgency campaign.
The defense official said Wednesday that a military investigation faulted some of the actions of American troops in air strikes May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians in Farah province.
"Errors were made" in the attack, the official acknowledged on condition of anonymity, discussing one of the preliminary findings on an incident that has strained relations between Washington and Kabul and bred deep resentment among the Afghan people. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan have also enraged Muslims worldwide.
Though the probe looked into the events in early May, commanders for well over a year have focused considerable attention on the problem. It looms as large as ever as the Obama administration streams 21,000 troops into Afghanistan to try to regain momentum in the faltering war.
The new U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan was asked about the issue at a news conference on his first day Wednesday, when he only took two questions. Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, responded that he planned to use close air support for troops only when needed to protect them and to complete the mission. And he said air strikes would be used carefully.
The nominee for top commander in Afghanistan was asked about it at his confirmation hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told senators: "This is a critical point. It may be the critical point. This is a struggle for the support of the Afghan people." Read more.
General Motors Corp. took a key step toward its downsizing on Tuesday, striking a tentative deal to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese manufacturer, while also revealing that it has potential buyers for its Saturn and Saab brands.
China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. said Tuesday afternoon that it reached an agreement to acquire the brand from GM for an undisclosed ammount. The Detroit automaker had announced Tuesday morning that it had a memorandum of understanding to sell the brand of rugged SUVs, but it didn't identify the buyer.
Sichuan Tengzhong deals in road construction, plastics, resins and other industrial products, but Hummer would be its first step into the automotive business.
GM said the sale will likely save more than 3,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing, engineering and at various Hummer dealerships. Tengzhong said it will assume GM's existing agreements with Hummer dealers.
"We will be investing in the Hummer brand and its research and development capabilities, which will allow Hummer to better meet demand for new products such as more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S," Chief Executive Yang Yi said in a statement.
As part of the proposed transaction, Hummer will continue to contract vehicle manufacturing and business services from GM during a transitional period. For example, GM's Shreveport, La., assembly plant would continue to contract to assemble the H3 and H3T through at least 2010, GM said. AM General LLC in Mishawaka, Ind., makes the larger H2 under contract for GM. Read more.
Note: 21:25 - I found the headline had been re-written to: "Dick Cheney's Role in CIA Interrogations Comes into Focus"
Update: 22:34 - This article, formerly the lead article on ABCNews' home page, is no longer there, and is not in their politics section, either. The link, however, is still working.
Dick Cheney as vice president conducted secret briefings for lawmakers in 2005 aimed at defending harsh interrogations as their methods were coming under congressional scrutiny, according to current and former government officials.
The secret briefings followed the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and public revelations about the CIA's rendition and interrogation program, current and former officials with ties to Congress and government intelligence told The Associated Press.
One official with direct knowledge of a March 8, 2005, meeting on the CIA's interrogation program said the briefing was run by Cheney in the situation room at the White House, a secure meeting room. The official said CIA officers were on hand to provide details.
The official said it was not unusual for Cheney to lead such briefings, as he was an aggressive champion of Bush administration national security policies and periodically conducted or sat in on meetings with members of Congress at the White House. The official asked not to be identified because the meeting was secret.
Another Cheney briefing occurred in October 2005 for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., around the time he had won overwhelming Senate support for banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment for all U.S. prisoners, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday editions. Two other briefings took place in October and November 2005, according to the Post.
The briefings add to questions about the role Cheney played in the creation, approval and conduct of the CIA's interrogation program, either directly or through his powerful chief of staff, David Addington.
The Cheney briefings were among 40 conducted for members of Congress by Bush administration officials between 2002 and 2009. Read more.
From May 28 Protests Demanding Release of the photos & Prosecution of the War Criminals Responsible:
Director Paul Haggis speaking West Hollywood City
War Criminals Watch, World Can't Wait, and other groups that worked on May protests (Code Pink, Progressive Democrats, the National Lawyers Guild and West Hollywood City Hall) and the many newly active people who came forward helped shape and develop outrage about the US torture state. The protests received local TV coverage in most cities, national coverage on Democracy Now and CNN, and we hear that photos ran over and over on Russian TV.
Press report, New York, May 29: Thursday, as World Can't Wait protested in 16 cities to demand that the Obama administration release the torture photographs, and prosecute the war crimes of the Bush regime, charges re-surfaced that the suppressed photos contradict President Obama's statement on May 12 that they are "not particularly sensational."
General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the 2004 Abu Ghraib torture scandal for the Bush administration, told The Daily Telegraph: "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency." US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the White House responded with denials, prompting further confirmations and details from those who have seen the photos that they include extreme sexual humiliation of detainees.
In New York, protesters gathered on 42nd Street, with dozens donning orange jumpsuits, representing detainees in US detention facilities. They walked silently into the hall of Grand Central Station, and up both sides of the west staircase, where they unfurled a banner saying "Release the Torture Photographs" and held photos believed to be part of the 2,000 involved in the controversy. Spontaneous applause went through the crowds of commuters, as thousands of cell phones snapped images.
The recent fire/counterfire between President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney over Guantánamo, the prisoners held there, and techniques used in their interrogation revealed a distressing ignorance in the White House. Specifically, it revealed that Obama and his advisers are ignorant of military theory.
Cheney won the debate by drawing the usual Republican distinction, that between doing what is necessary for national security and being nice. If Republicans are allowed to frame the issue that way, they will always win. But in fact, theirs is a false position. We do not have to choose between doing what works in the "war on terrorism" and doing what is morally right. The two are the same.
The military theory that allows us to see this is the work of Col. John Boyd, USAF. Boyd argued that war is fought on three levels: the moral, the mental, and the physical. Of the three, the moral level is the most powerful, the physical level is the least powerful, and the mental level lies between the other two.
Cheney argued that we should sacrifice the moral level to the physical. We should engage in torture because it may gain us information that could prevent another attack like 9/11. That could be the case.
But Boyd’s theory would respond that the defeat we suffer on the moral level by adopting a policy of torture will outweigh any benefits torture might bring us on the physical level of war. How so? By pumping up the terrorists’ will, cohesion, and ability to cooperate while diminishing our own.
In effect, both our enemies and our allies will come to see us as evil. That enables enemies to recruit, raise money, and generate new operations while we must focus internally on papering over cracks in our coalitions. They gain greater harmony while we face increased friction, Boyd’s dread "many non-cooperative centers of gravity." They pull together, we are pulled apart. Read more.
But he also acknowledged the decision could be influenced by a political reaction prompted by the company's ties to the previous U.S. administration of George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney -- a former Halliburton chairman and CEO. "In some respects, we find ourselves at a crossroads of anti-big business, anti-war, anti-Bush-Cheney that people associate with KBR," Utt said. "While we can't change who was the former chairman of our former parent who was a former VP of the United States, we can at least bring back the debate to facts."
KBR Inc expects profit margins on the next round of U.S. military logistics contracts to rise as they are split between different companies, the engineering and services company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
KBR is competing with Fluor Corp and DynCorp International for the next Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP IV, and expects to find out whether it has won one of two contracts for Afghanistan in July.
But Chief Executive William Utt said the previous LOGCAP contract, which includes food, mail, laundry and trucking among other services, was the lowest-margin business KBR had.
"If you start taking the scale away, generally people's margins are going to go up, particularly as we approach more traditional government contracting margins," Utt told the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Houston. Read more.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden purportedly issued another statement Wednesday, saying U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated "new seeds of hatred and revenge against America."
Zeroing in on the conflict in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where Pakistan's troops are taking on Taliban militants, the message asserts that President Obama is proving that he is "walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity against Muslims and increasing the number of fighters, and establishing more lasting wars."
Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network that aired the message, said the statement was "a voice recording by bin Laden," and a CNN analysis said the voice does indeed sound like the leader of the terrorist network that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
The remarks -- which would be bin Laden's first assessment of Obama's policy -- were believed to have been recorded several weeks ago at the start of a mass civilian exodus because of fighting in northwestern Pakistan.
The speaker cites strikes, destruction and Obama's "order" to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari "to prevent the people of Swat from implementing sharia law."
"All this led to the displacement of about a million Muslim elders, women and children from their villages and homes. They became refugees in tents after they were honored in their own homes," the message says. Read more.
Washington Didn't Want You to See this Guantanamo Photo
Star journalist captures landmark protest hours before a suicide puts heat on Obama
by Michelle Shephard | Common Dreams
A Guantanamo Bay detainee committed suicide late Monday just hours after two Chinese Muslim captives staged the detention centre's first public protest, increasing the pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama to outline his plan of how he will close the offshore prison.
Yemeni Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, 31, is the first prisoner to die since the White House changed hands four months ago. His suicide follows weeks of criticism from both ends of the political spectrum over the fate of the remaining 240 Guantanamo detainees.
News of the suicide was emailed to the media just as a flight bringing journalists from Guantanamo landed in Maryland. The press had been at the U.S. naval detention centre for the war crimes court hearing of Canadian Omar Khadr.
Khadr, 22, is accused of war crimes, including the murder of a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Hours after Khadr's brief hearing Monday, fewer than a dozen journalists on the trip, including a Toronto Star reporter, witnessed a rare unscripted moment on the base when two Uighur (pronounced Wee-gur) detainees managed to hold an impromptu protest.
The group was at an Oceanside prison known as "Camp Iguana," where 16 Uighur and one Algerian detainee are imprisoned. Read more.
U.S. Releases Secret List of Nuclear Sites Accidentally
By William J. Broad | NYTimes
The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.
The publication of the document was revealed Monday in an online newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy. That set off a debate among nuclear experts about what dangers, if any, the disclosures posed. It also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public.
On Tuesday evening, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site.
Several nuclear experts argued that any dangers from the disclosure were minimal, given that the general outlines of the most sensitive information were already known publicly.
“These screw-ups happen,” said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s going further than I would have gone but doesn’t look like a serious breach.”
But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored “can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out.” Read more.
A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad
By Andy Worthington | AndyWorthington.co.UK
In all the recent hysteria about the supposed dangers posed by the remaining 240 prisoners at Guantánamo, it has been easy to forget that sensible appraisals of the number of individuals with any meaningful connection to terrorism have long indicated that no more than a few dozen of those still held should be regarded as any kind of significant threat, and that therefore the prison still holds over 200 prisoners who, at best, were low-level Taliban soldiers with a strong dislike of US foreign policy, and, at worst, should never have been held at all.
To listen to Dick Cheney, or to some serving politicians who are prone to similar hyperbole, you would think that every one of the remaining 240 prisoners is just itching to return to the fictional battlefield conjured up in last week’s conveniently leaked Pentagon report about recidivism rates (PDF), which, while published uncritically by the New York Times, has been comprehensively trashed by reporters for the New American, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Firedoglake and many other media outlets. Read more.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney says there was “never any evidence” that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq played any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” Cheney said during an interview Monday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
“There was some reporting early on, for example, that Mohammed Atta had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official,” Cheney said. “But that was never borne out.”
In a 2003 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney said that “the Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack.”
But Cheney added, “We’ve never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.”
Cheney said Monday that former CIA Director George Tenet brought to the Bush White House information pertaining to potential links between the hijacker and Iraq as “it became available.” But Cheney pointed out that Tenet “did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9/11.” Read more.
Refusal to declassify CIA memos about its interrogation practices involving detainee is "foolish ... deeply unfair and sets a dangerous precedent," former Vice President Dick Cheney said at an NPC luncheon Monday.
He said President Obama "has the authority to declassify anything he wants to. I hope he will. It needs to be out there (and) would serve a public purpose and enlighten the debate."...
During questioning, Cheney said while there was no evidence that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., "I still think there was a strong case for war. The president made the right call. ... Any administration that doesn't deal with the (terroism) threat, I don't think is doing its job." Read more.
It is fairly unusual for the immediate past President or Vice President of the United States to attack the standing Administration. Some pundits describe it as a violation of protocol. That is not of particular relevance to this commentary.
Dick Cheney’s attack against the Administration needs to be understood at both the political / psychological level as well as at the level of new right-wing politics in the era of Obama. At the psychological level, think about a barking dog. In a contest with other dogs, the one that considers itself the top dog must insist on getting the last bark before any silence is tolerated. Cheney wants the last bark. He simply cannot help himself. This has been true throughout the eight years of the Bush / Cheney administration. When compromise or even silence would have been the proper and more diplomatic course, one could count on Cheney to open his mouth. He could also always be counted upon to twist the facts in such a calm, yet decisive way, that one could not help but wonder about the truth.
In Cheney’s recent attack dog appearance in defense of torture it was fascinating to watch him become the defender of the Central Intelligence Agency. One does not have to be a great historian to remember that Cheney was a constant opponent and degrader of the CIA, but when it was convenient, Cheney was able to flip the script and become the defender of his former adversaries. It was also interesting to watch Cheney suggest, despite ALL evidence to the contrary, that President Obama does not wish to talk about terrorists.
Let’s add to this Cheney’s slight of hand when it came to attacking former Secretary of State Colin Powell. When asked about Powell’s political affiliations, Cheney - very calmly - suggested that he did not even know that Powell still considered himself a Republican. Unless Cheney has morphed from an attack dog into Rip Van Winkle he would have to have known that Powell remains a Republican, but clearly the facts do not matter here. The objective is the sound-bite, the insult and the impression left in the minds of the listener. Read more.
The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [name withheld] who was wearing a military uniform, putting his [male appendage] into the little kid's [anus] ... and the female soldier was taking pictures."
...I suspect that the "danger" that preoccupies the ruling Establishment is not that confronted by the troops (about whom that Establishment cares little), but rather the danger potentially posed by those troops if enough of them escape the mental dungeon of official indoctrination and take a good, critical look at the people, institutions, and causes for which they're hired to kill and die.
The eyewitness account provided by Abu Ghraib inmate Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, describing one of numerous episodes of sexual abuse by U.S. interrogators, including rape, homosexual rape, sexual assaults with objects including a truncheon and a phosphorescent tube, and other forms of sexual abuse and humiliation of detainees.
We need to dispense immediately with the idea that releasing the second batch of photos depicting torture and other abuse at Abu Ghraib and six other installations would create an unacceptable danger to U.S. troops in the region.
Though it seem callous of me to point out as much, we should recognize that people who enlist in the military are paid, trained, and equipped to confront danger. We should also recognize that we do the cause of liberty no favors if we make it easier to invade and occupy foreign countries; indeed, we ought to do everything we can to accentuate the difficulty of carrying out criminal enterprises of that sort. Read more.
In the face of the Obama administration's refusal to release a reported 2,000 more photographs of detainee abuse - in spite of being ordered by a federal court to do so - torture opponents in fifteen (15) U.S. cities held visible protests to demand that the government make the photos public. These protests called for prosecution of those who ordered, legally justified, and carried out torture in US detention and secret prisons during the Bush years.
In San Francisco, protesters rallied outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse to call for prosecution, impeachment, and disbarment of "Torture Judge" Jay Bybee. Bybee's 2003 lifetime appointment to the federal bench was his reward from George Bush for Bybee's work as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. There, Bybee issued the 2002 torture memo which authorized torture including waterboarding, walling, sleep deprivation and other horrific techniques.
On May 28, National Day of Resistance to U.S. Torture, the San Francisco Bay Area World Can’t Wait chapter, along with members of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild’s Committee Against Torture, Code Pink, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, and National Accountability Network gathered at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This protest added to the National Day’s demands our call to publicly repudiate the lifetime appointment of Torture Judge Jay Bybee to the federal bench.
About thirty people rallied outside the court, raising the demand to disbar and prosecute Bybee for codifying specific torture tactics and for giving high Bush administration officials immunity protections from both civil and criminal suit. San Francisco’s was one of six (6) protests on this National Day focused on Bybee – protests were going on also in Pasadena, Anchorage, Honolulu, Fresno, and Portland, Oregon.
A super-sized banner reading “Torture is a War Crime! Release the Torture Photos! Prosecute the War Criminals!” lined one corner of the courthouse in downtown San Francisco. The “Bush and Bybee Museum of Torture” was nearby – an exhibit which included the fourteen torture methods Bybee authorized in an August 2002 memo: sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding, forced nudity, cramped confinement in a dark space, water dousing, wall standing, walling, facial slaps, abdominal slaps, insects placed in a confinement box, facial holds, attention grasps, and dietary manipulation. Read more.
A federal judge ordered the United States on Monday to publicly reveal unclassified versions of its allegations and evidence justifying the continued imprisonment of more than 100 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Justice Department had been filing unclassified versions of its legal documents under seal, so that they could only be seen by judges, attorneys and government officials. Attorneys for the detainees were able to share the documents with their clients and witnesses who would agree to rules restricting the information's disclosure.
Department officials said the practice was necessary to protect national security after they discovered that some unclassified records mistakenly contained some classified information. The department had said the documents were only sealed temporarily while they could be more carefully reviewed for classified information.
Attorneys for the detainees said the secrecy made it harder for them to prepare for upcoming hearings and that some witnesses would not agree to the court's secrecy rules. The Associated Press, The New York Times and USA Today had joined the fight, arguing that the government was keeping valuable information from the public that has a right to monitor the legal process.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sided with the detainees' attorneys and the media, saying the public has a right to access the records. Read More.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is usually very careful at choosing his words.
Perhaps not so today. In a speech Monday at the National Press Club, continuing along familiar themes of terrorism, Guantanamo and his hatred for The New York Times, Cheney spoke defensively of the administration’s practice of water-boarding detainees.
“I don’t believe we tortured,” Cheney remarked, noting that the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration were vetted by White House lawyers. They didn’t cross a “red line,” he said.
And then he delivered the whopper: “There were three people who were water-boarded…. It was well-done.”
The former vice president also made an odd comment about detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
He framed their detention as a choice between two options: either we imprison them, or we kill them.
“We need Guantanamo… If we didn’t have it, we’d need to (invent) it,” Cheney remarked. “If you don’t have a place to hold these people, the only other option is to kill them.”
“We don’t operate that way,” he added.
The Democratic Party power structure's least favorite ex-President is speaking out of school again. Jimmy Carter has some strong words about President Obama's decision to fight the release of thousands of photos that reportedly show further US abuse and torture of prisoners and has weighed in on the debate over prosecuting former Bush administration officials for torture. In an interview to be broadcast tonight on CNN, Carter says this about Obama's position on the release of new torture photos: Read more.
Why'd Obama switch on detainee photos? Maliki went ballistic
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy.
In the days leading up to a May 28 deadline to release the photos in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, U.S. officials, led by Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Maliki that the administration was preparing to release photos of suspected detainee abuse taken from 2003 to 2006.
When U.S. officials told Maliki, "he went pale in the face," said a U.S. military official, who along with others requested anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.
The official said Maliki warned that releasing the photos would lead to more violence that could delay the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from cities by June 30 and that Iraqis wouldn't make a distinction between old and new photos. The public outrage and increase in violence could lead Iraqis to demand a referendum on the security agreement and refuse to permit U.S. forces to stay until the end of 2011. Read more.
GRANNIES SAY: LET'S GET BARACK - BACK ON TRACK
by Joan Wile
Everybody's talking about Sonia Sotomayor. The country's abuzz about the torture memos. About Cheney, Pelosi, Swine flu, and GM and Chrysler's bankruptcies.
All well and good -- these are important matters.
But, where is the outrage about the continuing, even escalating, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? These are the most urgent issues of our time, and they've slipped into the dustbin of newsworthy topics.
Except for the peace grandmothers. We seem to be the only organized group actively and currently protesting the wars. Why is that, I wonder? I guess we are the wise ones, after all. Why haven't many others, those probably far more enlightened than we, seen the growing catastrophe if we don't get out of these hell holes and get out soon, no, not soon, NOW.
Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack
By Ray McGovern
What’s the difference between murder and massacre?
The answer is Terry Halbardier, whose bravery and ingenuity as a 23-year-old Navy seaman spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the USS Liberty crew and the intended massacre of all 294.
The date was June 8, 1967; and for the families of the 34 murdered and for the Liberty’s survivors and their families, it is a “date which will live in infamy” — like the date of an earlier surprise attack on the U.S. Navy.
The few, the proud, the poor, the desperate, the criminal, the old, the young, the brainwashed, and the autistic.
It might be terrible times for so many companies suffering through a global economic meltdown, but in the war zone, there seems to be no recession in sight. In fact, with "Obama's war" in the expanding Afghanistan/Pakistan theater of operations revving up, there's likely to be money to the horizon, bases to build, and ever more troops to supply. As it happens, the management of KBR, formerly a part of Halliburton and the main builder and supplier of American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, is feeling in the pink.
KBR is, of course, little short of notorious. The darling of the neocons and Dick Cheney's baby -- in his pre-Vice Presidential days he was the CEO of its then-parent corporation, Halliburton -- it was one of the prime winners of the Bush administration's privatization sweepstakes. Think of it as the Blackwater of construction companies. But somehow, despite hatfuls of charges against the company for a laundry list of alleged misdeeds as well as for war profiteering, it recently announced that revenues in the first quarter of 2009 were actually up 27% -- to a hefty $3.2 billion. Moreover, according to the Financial Times, "KBR's backlog of projects grew 8% last year and sales rose 33%. KBR has $1 [billion] in cash, no debt, and is looking for acquisitions." Its stock is doing swimmingly; it's managing to make the transfer from Republican to Democratic Washington; and its CEO William Utt states confidently, "We know we can withstand any length of this crisis -- or depth."
Journalist Pratap Chatterjee knows KBR intimately. He's checked out its military dining halls, spent time with some of its 50,000 workers, and interviewed its officials. He's also written a remarkable book on KBR and its former parent, Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. Now he follows both companies into a strangely cleansed future of oil and war. Tom
Is Halliburton Forgiven and Forgotten?
Or How to Stay Out of Sight While Profiting From the War in Iraq
By Pratap Chatterjee
The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.
There were no protestors outside the meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when Lesar addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protestors in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passers-by in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don't forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.
Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front.