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The Story of Oybek Jabbarov, An Innocent Man Freed From Guantánamo
By Andy Worthington | AndyWorthington.co.UK
Yesterday I reported that the US government had released three prisoners from Guantánamo, repatriating Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a Yemeni, and sending two unidentified prisoners — presumed to be Uzbeks — to new homes in Ireland. I suspected that one of the men was Oybek Jabbarov, an Uzbek who was cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2007, but who could not be repatriated because of the well-known human rights abuses in his homeland, and the fact that he had been threatened by Uzbek agents who had been allowed to visit him in Guantánamo.
It has now been confirmed that one of the Uzbeks freed in Ireland is indeed Oybek Jabbarov, and, while I wish him and his unidentified countryman every opportunity to settle into their new home in peace, I want to take this opportunity to reproduce a letter by Jabbarov, sent from Guantánamo last October (PDF), and a statement by his lawyer, delivered to a House Committee last May, to demonstrate how, in contrast to the hyperbolic claims made by Bush administration officials and their supporters, it was disturbingly easy for innocent men like Oybek Jabbarov to end up in Guantánamo.
These men — and there were many hundreds of innocent men in Guantánamo, and many who are still held — were mostly seized by the Americans’ opportunistic allies at a time when bounty payments for “al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects” were widespread, and were then presumed guilty without any screening process by an administration drunk on its own exercise of unfettered executive power, in which everyone who ended up in US custody was an “unlawful enemy combatant” without rights, regardless of whether, like Oybek Jabbarov, they have lost nearly eight years of their lives for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Read more.
Obama asserts power to detain suspects without trial
By Tom Eley | WSWS
The Obama administration announced this week that it intends to continue the Bush administration policy of holding terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge or trial.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said that President Obama may continue to hold “terror suspects” indefinitely and without judicial review based on the congressional Authorization to Use Military Force that came in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington—the same rationale used by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
The move aims to institutionalize the previous administration’s assault on habeas corpus—the bedrock principle of democratic rights and the civil liberties laid down in the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
The announcement is a shift from a position Obama outlined in a May 22 speech at the National Archives. There he said he would go to Congress to obtain legislation to carry on the policy of indefinite detention, which he claimed was the only way of dispersing a section of the Guantánamo prison population too “dangerous” to try in civil courts.
In reality, the administration does not want to try these prisoners in normal civilian courts because such trials would expose the use of torture against the defendants, the evidence based on torture would be inadmissible, and civil trials might reveal embarrassing facts about the activities of US intelligence agencies.
“I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantánamo detainees,” Obama said three months ago. “[G]oing forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime.” Read more.
A cacophony of song birds continues at a pitch even at 11pm. They quiet and then something seems to wake them.
Our rooms are on their courtyard of flowers, grass, fountains, vine drenched archways and relaxing places to enjoy tea. We each have our own monk’s cell with bed, toilet and internet hookup.
Slowly, over 4 hours this morning (Sunday) we became the 9 traveling companions—Pink Sisters—because Paul the only male, wanted to call us either moms (we are all old enough to qualify) or sisters and we leapt at the latter. We gathered at the boarding gate and introduced ourselves, expressed our fears and our desires, barely noticing that the plane was about 2 hours late by the time we finished. We almost had the plane to ourselves, except some interesting men coming to do their work. The most macho New Zealander with a company that transports dangerous materials was freaked to be going to Kabul and even after our arrival was hyper-ventilating with panic. Then there was the Christian social worker, who had no fear even with a fatwa out on him and his wife for building schools for girls. Another was a very buff young man who worked in some form of security. The ride was a bit bumpy as we neared Kabul and dropped below the clouds to the dusty broken down city.
We won’t get a clean breath until we are back in Dubai. Every breath is full of dust, ash, smells and pain. Read more.
A Constitutional Debate Over a Health Care Mandate
By Katharine Q. Seelye | NY Times
Still others have questioned how the mandate would work and suggested that a government-run insurance plan, including a single-payer system, or a system of tax subsidies could be “more efficient in containing costs and avoid the slippery slope of unconstitutional mandates.”
The Congressional Research Service recently grappled with the legal underpinnings of an individual mandate and concluded that Congress “may have” the power to enact a mandate “as part of its taxing and spending power or its power to regulate interstate commerce.”
Still, it sees potential pitfalls, noting: “Whether such a requirement would be constitutional under the commerce clause is perhaps the most challenging question posed by such a proposal, as it is a novel issue whether Congress may use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service.”
If the individual mandate were found to be unconstitutional, the health care overhaul as it is now structured by many committees in Congress would almost certainly collapse.
The requirement that everyone buy health insurance moved a step closer to reality last week — and possibly a step closer to being challenged in court.
Conservatives and libertarians, mostly, have been advancing the theory lately that the individual mandate, in which the government would compel everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional.
“I think an individual mandate will pass, and I think it’s going to be very vulnerable because it exceeds Congress’s constitutional authority,” said David Rivkin, a lawyer who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Mr. Rivkin spelled out his argument in a recent op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal that he co-wrote.
“If you say the government can mandate your behavior as far as this type of insurance goes,” he said, “there will be nothing the government can’t do. They can control every single way in which you dispose of your income.” Read more.
NLG Observes Improper Use of Force by Law Enforcement at the G-20 | Press Release
PITTSBURGH, PA - September 25 - National Lawyers Guild members witnessed first-hand yesterday the unwarranted display and use of force by police in residential neighborhoods, often far from any protest activity.
Police deployed chemical irritants, including CS gas, and long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) in residential neighborhoods on narrow streets where families and small children were exposed. Scores of riot police formed barricades at many intersections throughout neighborhoods miles away from the downtown area and the David Lawrence Convention Center. Outside the Courtyard Marriott in Shadyside, police deployed smoke bombs in the absence of protest activity, forcing bystanders and hotel residents to flee the area.
John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods has argued that American workers do not deserve a health care system. We believe that heath care should be affordable for everyone, not just rich people. So Mr. Mackey, this video is for you!
On August 30, at “Beyond Guantánamo,” an event organized by Cageprisoners, the British resident Binyam Mohamed, who was subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, and was finally released from Guantánamo in February this year, after nearly seven years in US custody, spoke for the first time in public. Binyam talked about Shaker Aamer, the British resident who is still held in Guantánamo, the establishment of the Guantánamo Justice Centre (which I covered here), and the conditions in Guantánamo, and he also urged those in the audience to look inside themselves to discover what they might be able to give to the campaign against injustice. A video of his talk is available above.
Other speakers, whose talks were also recorded (and can be found on the Cageprisoners site here) include former prisoner Sami al-Haj (El-Hajj), speaking about a number of current and former prisoners (with former prisoner Bisher al-Rawi translating), former Guantánamo guard and Muslim convert Terry Holdbrooks, Ahmed Ghappour (an attorney with Reprieve), journalist Yvonne Ridley, and the poet Amir Sulaiman, reading from the book Poems From Guantánamo. Also included is a recitation by former Guantánamo prisoner Moussa Zemmouri. Read more.
One Year After Her Family Died In U.S. Airstrike, Seven-Year-Old Afghan Girl Lives In Constant Fear
By Mustafa Saber, Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Alternet
On the night of August 22, 2008, Zahra's father, mother, sister and two brothers were killed by American bombs. This is her life now.
Seven-year-old Zahra looks like a typical Afghan girl in her traditional long dress and scarf, her short black hair peeking out from her head covering. She sticks close to home, seldom venturing far from her house. But it is not tradition that keeps her home but fear.
On the night of August 22 2008, all of Zahra's immediate family was killed by American bombs. In pursuit of Taliban commander Mullah Siddiq, United States Special Forces and the Afghan army launched an airstrike on the village of Azizabad in Shindand district of Herat. An investigation by the United Nations said that 90 people, 60 children and 30 adults, died.
The American military initially denied that any civilians were harmed in the attack. Only after prolonged pressure, in October of last year, did they acknowledge that the strike killed 33 civilians.
Zahra's father, mother, sister and two brothers died that night. She is the only survivor, together with her grandmother, Maryam, known in the village as Pori. One year later the two traumatized females, one seven years old the other 75, are still living in Azizabad, in a small, dirty, three-room house donated to them by a kind-hearted neighbor. Read more.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was founded in 2005 by Mikey Weinstein, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and Reagan administration White House counsel, after the harassment his own sons faced as Jewish cadets at the academy led him to discover that the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the Air Force Academy was far from an isolated problem.
It was a militarywide issue that needed to be confronted head on. But it quickly became apparent that MRFF's initial mission of protecting the rights of our men and women in uniform was only addressing part of the problem.
The evangelizing and proselytizing of Iraqi and Afghan Muslims by private religious organizations and U.S. military personnel also had to be exposed and stopped -- particularly the materials and media available via the Internet and television that could be used by Islamic extremists as propaganda for recruiting purposes....
Top Ten Ways to Convince the Muslims We're On a Crusade
10. Have top U.S. military officers, Defense Department officials and politicians say we're in a religious war.
9. Have top U.S. military officers appear in a video showing just how Christian the Pentagon is.
8. Plant crosses in Muslim lands and make sure they're big enough to be visible from really far away.
7. Paint crosses and Christian messages on military vehicles and drive them through Iraq. Read more.
Michael Munk was struck by Burl Ross' Letter to the Editor in the Oregonian satirizing the current political climate in which the content of the Pledge of Allegiance seems almost a historical aberration. Below the Letter is Dr. Baer's Short History of the Pledge of Allegiance.
About that Socialist pledge | The Oregonian
In Letters to the editor
September 24, 2009, 8:00PM
Our schoolchildren should never be instructed by their teachers to quote Socialist propaganda -- even to repeat the eloquent words of President Barack Obama.
Imagine an America where classrooms of indoctrinated young students would be directed to stand together every morning, place their hands over their hearts and recite the liberal proclamations of those like avowed Socialist Francis Bellamy, who wrote, in 1892, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Not in this America...
The Pledge of Allegiance
A Short History
by Dr. John W. Baer
Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).
Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.
Excerpt from Daily Kos blog:
In Snowe's trigger amendment, if affordable coverage is not available for 95% of a state's residents, then you get a public option in that state. While there are issues with state-based public health insurance options, the catch-22 comes with Snowe's definition of affordability.
Affordable is defined as 13% of income. So, if there is no plan in the exchange that costs less than 13% of a person's income, we'd get a public health insurance option. But that calculation of what a plan costs is made after the government pays out subsidies or employers pay their share. And therein lies the catch-22.
Max Baucus's bill caps out-of-pocket costs for people buying insurance in the exchange at 12% of their income. Therefore, after you add in government subsidies, costs will legally always have to be below 12%. The insurance industry can raise their rates as much as they want and government will make up the difference. The trigger, if passed, will never trigger. Not ever.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post writes that a "public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years. That is $20 billion more than earlier estimates, a spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi said. In other words, the conservatives want to spend $85 billion more than the liberals do. Moreover, the CBO is estimating savings to the government. That is to say, the $85 billion reflects reduced federal spending on subsidies because premiums in the public plan will be lower. Savings to individuals and businesses paying lower premiums will be much larger than $85 billion, and politically, much more important."
~Chip's comment: The trigger is all smoke and mirrors marketed by lobbyists to corporate-fed lawmakers. All the more reason for single-payer, Medicare for all. Support H.R. 646/S.707 and the Kucinich amendment.
A major complaint surfaced immediately — that the Bush administration had not established a consolidated repository of intelligence and evidence on each prisoner. It took longer than expected to build such a database, the officials said, because information was scattered throughout agencies and inconsistent.
That database has now been completed, and prosecutors have also concluded their initial review of the detainees and recommended to the Justice Department an unspecified number who appear eligible for prosecution, the officials told the AP. The Justice Department and the Pentagon now will work together to determine which prisoners should be tried in military courts and which in civilian ones, the officials said. They would not provide a number recommended for prosecution since it could change.
The decision on which prisoners will be prosecuted had been expected by Nov. 16, and the officials said they are on track to meet that goal. Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, the chief military prosecutor, had said previously that about 65 cases are viable for prosecution....The officials noted that the U.S. prison system already holds 216 people convicted as international terrorists.
Another front in the effort to close the prison is the problem of finding countries willing to take in those detainees deemed eligible for release. The administration so far has transferred 14 prisoners to other countries, the officials said.
The White House acknowledged for the first time Friday that it might not be able to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by January as President Barack Obama has promised.
Senior administration officials told The Associated Press that difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving thorny legal and logistical questions mean the president's self-imposed January deadline may slip. Obama remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to more freely discuss the sensitive issue. They said the White House still was hoping to meet the deadline through a stepped-up effort. Read more.
Pointing to experience at the state level, the insurance industry and other health-care experts persuaded Obama that insurers could not go along with a guanteed issue policy without knowing that all adults would be forced into the system.
Insurers say that if you have guaranteed issue -- which means no discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions -- without an individual mandate, people will wait until they become sick to buy insurance and the system will fail due to a lack of risk sharing.
The debate over whether the federal government should require all Americans to carry health insurance is heating up.
The latest spark is a letter that Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, sent Thursday to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
Given that the health-care bill written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus contains a $1,900 fee (or excise tax) for not buying health insurance, Ensign wanted to know what would happen if an American didn't pay the penalty.
In a handwritten letter, Barthold told Ensign that under an existing provision of the Internal Revenue Code, willful failure to pay a fine can result in being charged with a misdemeanor which could carry a penalty of up to $25,000, or up to a year in jail, or both. The handwritten letter was a follow-up to an answer that Barthold gave Ensign during Thursday's mark-up of the Baucus bill. Read more.
The portion of this video with Dr. Hochfeld was previously posted, but in this video Ed goes into considerable detail about the health care debate and the Obama administration's leadership on it. Well-worth a second look...
Police State Raids Against Immigrants
By Stephen Lendman
In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established its largest investigative and enforcement branch - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm (ICE) "as a law enforcement agency for the post-9/11 era, to integrate enforcement authorities against criminal and terrorist activities, including the fights against human trafficking and smuggling violent transnational gangs and sexual predators on children (who are) criminal (and) terrorist" threats to the nation.
Along with Muslims, Latinos are its prime targets, often using militarized unconstitutional tactics against vulnerable, defenseless people. Post-9/11, the Bush administration initiated them, and they continue under Obama.
On May 23, 2007, as a senator, Obama said:
"The time to fix our broken immigration system is now. We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace."
Congressman Jim McGovern Calls for U.S. Exit Strategy in Afghanistan
National Call-in Day: No Exit Strategy! Stop the Funding!
Wednesday September 30
To reach the Washington Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Congress is close to final passage of the $625.8 billion 2010 Defense Budget, which contains approximately $128.2 billion to conduct the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through September 2010.
So far the White House has offered no timetable and no “exit strategy” for Afghanistan. To the contrary, General McCrystal is calling for tens of thousands of additional American troops and a long-term commitment, which could tie the United States down in Afghanistan for years to come.
Workplace Discrimination: Transgender Woman Urges Lawmakers to Pass Reforms
Ga. Legislative Editor Fired for Sex Change
By Devin Dwyer | ABC News
When Vandy Beth Glenn, formerly Glenn Morrison, was summoned to her boss's office Oct. 16, 2007, she was not prepared for the exchange that followed.
"He asked me if what he had heard was true: did I really intend to come to work as a woman? I told him yes, it was true."
Glenn, a transgender woman preparing for a sex-change procedure at the time, told ABCNews.com she expected her boss would "do the right thing."
Instead, Sewell Brumby, legislative counsel for the Georgia General Assembly allegedly told Glenn she was no longer suitable for her job.
"Mr. Brumby told me that people would think I was immoral. He told me I would make other people uncomfortable, just by being myself. He told me that my transition was unacceptable. And over and over, he told me it was inappropriate."
Then, Brumby fired Glenn.
"I'm not sure I was really thinking anything in that moment other than utter shock," Glenn told ABCNews.com. "That he was so matter of fact about it blew my mind." Read more.
October 7, 2009 begins the NINTH YEAR!!! of the United States (undeclared) War in Afghanistan. This war has gone on longer than any war in United States history, with the exception of the (undeclared) War in Vietnam. Please come to OffBase in Norfolk for a FREE SCREENING of Brave New Films very, very informative new production: RETHINK Afghanistan.
Obama Leads Security Council Session on Sidelines of UN General Assembly
By Margaret Besheer | VOA
President Barack Obama chaired a summit level-session of the Security Council Thursday that unanimously adopted a resolution committing to work toward a nuclear weapons-free world. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the second day of the U.N. General Assembly where the annual debate continued.
The Security Council session focused on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and the resolution urged action to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.
President Obama presided over the meeting, the first time a U.S. president has done so. He told the council that the United Nations has a "pivotal role to play" in preventing a nuclear crisis.
"The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons," said President Obama. "And it brings Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal." Read more.
Do insurers meddle in your medical care?
Some frustrated physicians complain of 'hassles' from insurance companies, but others say they could help doctors practice better medicine.
By Parija B. Kavilanz | CNN Money
Have you ever wondered why your doctor has you come back two or three times to complete a check-up instead of wrapping it up in one visit?
Doctors candidly admit that it's about money. And they blame insurers for "conditioning" them to practice medicine this way, meaning less efficiently than they believe they should.
Dr. Ted Epperly, a family physician based in Boise, Idaho, explained that if multiple services are administered to a patient on the same day, insurers often won't reimburse doctors for each separate treatment.
"Suppose I surgically remove a mole from a patient and I schedule a follow-up visit," said Epperly, who is also president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "During the follow-up visit, if I also check and treat the patient for hypertension, those are two different services."
His concern is that insurance companies won't reimburse him for the two different services because he provided them to his patient during the same office visit.
Doctors don't think this is fair. While some are eating the cost of additional services rendered to patients, others are having patients come back repeatedly so they can be adequately reimbursed. Read more.
Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000 new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the war so far this year.
The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.
Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of "perhaps as many as 45,000."
When Barack Obama gave his "civil liberties" speech at the National Archives in May, he advocated a new scheme of preventive detention for detainees whom he claimed "cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people," and he unambiguously vowed to develop a new statutory regime, enacted by Congress, to vest him with the power of what he called "prolonged detention":
I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. . . . But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees -- not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution. As our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. . . . [I]f we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.
Obama has now changed his mind about seeking a new law, and instead will continue to detain Terrorism suspects without charges under the current system (the one used by Bush/Cheney as well): Read more.
Lovebirds Steven and Kathryn share a well-organised home in bustling Las Vegas.
They have a neat, if compact kitchen, a furnished living area, and a bedroom complete with double bed, wardrobe and bookshelf featuring a wide selection including a Frank Sinatra biography and Spanish phrase book.
And they make their money in some of the biggest casinos in the world.
But their life is far from the ordinary.
Because, along with hundreds of others, the couple are part of a secret community living in the dark and dirty underground flood tunnels below the famous strip.
Rather than working in the bars or kitchens they "credit hustle", prowling the casinos searching the fruit machines for money or credits left by drunken gamblers.
Despite the risks from disease, highly venomous spiders and flooding washing them away, many of the tunnel people have put together elaborate camps with furniture, ornaments and shelves filled with belongings. Read more.
Why the Public Option is Doomed To Fail, and What Can Be Done About It
By Bruce A. Dixon, Managing Editor | Black Agenda Report
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real. But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own?
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real. But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own? Read more.
Center for Constitutional Rights Calls for Judicial Review of All Evidence When State Secrets Invoked
Center for Constitutional Rights Calls for Judicial Review of All Evidence When State Secrets Invoked | Press Release
Rights Group Critical of New DOJ Policy Promises
September 23, 2009, New York – In response to news the Attorney General is establishing new policy on the question of the use of the state secrets privilege, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following statement: