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Whiteous Indignation

"How cute!" my adults would say when they passed a black baby or a small black child. They'd grin approvingly at the baby and smile their acceptance at the baby's mom. Sometimes they'd extend a hand to brush the baby's cheek to prove their gentility. And then they'd walk a bit further, lean into each other and snark the zinger that angered me then and now, "yeah, they're cute now but wait till they get older." There it was. There it is. The not so subtle prejudice I witnessed in my family that millions of impressionable children witnessed in theirs.

As far back as I can remember I was offended by this language. But others in my family, in my generation, were not. Many assumed the attitudes and language of our adults and continued these prejudices into their adulthoods. Some more strongly than others. Some used the "N word." Some used "ditsoon," the Italian pejorative for blacks. In my large extended family, that includes several police, racial insensitivity was the norm.

Secret Bush-era Prisons Continue

Secret Bush-era Prisons Continue
By John C. Trang | New America Media

There is growing evidence CMUs were created to extract information from inmates for the war on terrorism. Since privacy rights are reduced for the incarcerated, increasing attention to prisoners as a source of information was a logical step for proponents of sustaining a war on terrorism. And by stretching what constitutes a terrorism related charge, the government could consolidate prisoners believed to possess desired knowledge and ignore even basic civil liberties afforded other incarcerated people by invoking “war on terrorism.” To be sure, similar to the tenuous links to terrorism, the extent of any inmate’s knowledge about terrorism is questionable at best.

Ultimately, due to the secretive nature of CMUs, the real explanation continues to be a mystery. What is not a mystery is that the war on terrorism continues to be wrongfully conflated with Islam. This likely explains the disproportionate level of Muslim inmates. Although there are non-Muslim inmates at CMUs, at least one Muslim inmate claims that security guards have called non-Muslim inmates “racial balancers.” Whether or not non-Muslim inmates are mere decoys is unclear. But such a claim should heighten our concern that the government is targeting inmates based on a racial perception of who is a terrorist.

Despite President Barack Obama’s declaration that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam, government practices suggest otherwise.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed complaints against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for illegally establishing secret prisons called Communications Management Units, or CMUs. The ACLU also alleged unconstitutional restrictions on Muslim inmates’ right to religious freedom. As a law student investigating the CMUs, the existence of these secret prisons trouble me.

The first CMU was clandestinely established in late 2006 at the federal prison facility in Terre Haute, IN. In 2008, another CMU was established in Marion, IL. According to the government, CMUs were created to “house inmates who, due to their current offense of conviction, offense conduct or other verified information, require increased monitoring of communication between inmates and persons in the community in order to protect the safety, security, and orderly operations of Bureau facilities and protect the public.”

Sounds mundane, right? But the fact is CMUs are a palpable and disconcerting product of xenophobia and the war on terrorism. Concocted during the Bush administration, CMUs are alarmingly reminiscent of McCarthy-era practices and the Japanese American internment camps. Read more.

Agent Orange Causes Media Blindness

By Dave Lindorff

Agent Orange, the herbicide used as a weapon by US military forces in Vietnam for nearly a decade to defoliate vast stretches of inhabited forest and jungle in an effort to deprive the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces of both cover and a supportive populace, has long been known to have caused a large number of serious and debilitating diseases, many of them passed on to children of those exposed. But now it also appears to cause a peculiar blindness among American journalists.

Microwave Weapon Will Rain Pain From The Sky

Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky
By David Hambling | New Scientist

THE Pentagon's enthusiasm for non-lethal crowd-control weapons appears to have stepped up a gear with its decision to develop a microwave pain-infliction system that can be fired from an aircraft.

The device is an extension of its controversial Active Denial System, which uses microwaves to heat the surface of the skin, creating a painful sensation without burning that strongly motivates the target to flee. The ADS was unveiled in 2001, but it has not been deployed owing to legal issues and safety fears.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) in Quantico, Virginia, has now called for it to be upgraded. The US air force, whose radar technology the ADS is based on, is increasing its annual funding of the system from $2 million to $10 million. Read more.

Some Gitmo Detainees May Come to US Jails

Some Gitmo Detainees May Come to US Jails
Pentagon official: Some Guantanamo detainees may be sent to US jails despite congressional ban
By Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews.com

The Pentagon's top lawyer said Friday that the Obama administration has not abandoned the possibility of transferring some prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to a prison in the United States despite strong congressional concerns.

Defense Department general counsel Jeh Charles Johnson told the House Armed Services Committee that some suspected terrorists might be transferred to the U.S. for prosecution and others sent to a facility inside the U.S. for long-term incarceration.

Johnson also said no prisoners would be released from custody inside the country. Read more.

Cops Gone Wild

By Dave Lindorff

Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley has gone whining to his professional organization, the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Assn., asking for support in calling for President Obama to apologize for saying he acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard Prof. Henry Gates after first suspecting the prominent African-American scholar of being a burglar caught breaking into Gates' own home.

Sgt. Crowley claims he was totally justified in making the arrest on a charge of "disorderly conduct" (later dropped by the police), because Gates, who actually had been forced to break into his own home during a return from a speaking tour in China when the front door was stuck, had allegedly become "enraged" when the officer confronted him and asked for identification. Crowley claims that Gates called him names, called him a racist, and threatened to file a complaint against him, and that as a result he arrested him.

You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!

You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!
By Jeffrey Smith | Huffington Post

The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here's the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie. Read more.

Gaza Delegations Offer Updated Resources Documenting Inhumanity and International Criminality

Articles, Blogs, Interviews and Talks from the January, March, May and June 2009 Delegations to Gaza and Occupied Territories of Palestine Updated for July 12 - 23, 2009

New entries to List since July 12 until July 23:

January 1 Long March in GAZA to break the Siege
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=99488432247&
“Activists plan march to break Gaza siege,” July 1, 2009, Daily Star
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_...
Also at:
http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/onward-to-victory/

Alice Walker, “Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the “horror” in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel”
http://www.alicewalkersblog.com/2009/07/overcoming-speechlessness-poet.html
http://voiceseducation.org/node/744

Rich Moniak, KTOO radio, Juneau, Alaska, July 13, 2009 http://www.ktoo.org/audiofile.cfm?clip=4012

The "Dallas Delegation" Protests Bush's Crimes In New Neighborhood

VIPS Member Ray McGovern and Dallas Peace Center member Hadi Jawad organized and participated in the “Dallas Delegation,” a march in George W. Bush’s Dallas neighborhood. Marchers reminded Bush neighbors that they had living among them a criminal who repeatedly and notoriously broke federal and international laws.

Ray McGovern wrote:

In front of Bush house; we stopped long enough to refresh, in a very serious way, memories—by reading the Declaration of Independence regarding the usurpation of our foremothers' and forefathers' rights by another George.

Then we began to read the sections of our beloved Constitution that were trampled by George W. Bush. There are, though, so many such sections that we were not able to finish reading them all in the hot sun.

We did the sensible thing and began to march slowly and solemnly out of the neighborhood...at which point the Dallas police arrived and gave us an armed escort! Our bannering over the nearby Interstate was cut short by the same police, who told us, in effect, this is not Minnesota. In Texas, they said, It is illegal to banner because a distraction could cause a car wreck. We had no Coleen Rowley with us to give us good legal advice, so we drove off (again with police escort) to that major intersection and witnessed for a good while more. Great use was made of those wonderful banners and orange suits. The banners included "WHAT NOBLE CAUSE?" -- Cindy Sheehan's gutsy question of W four long years ago, as she left Dallas accompanied by some of the women of Code Pink and some Veterans for Peace to set up Camp Casey, in honor of her son Casey, killed on April 4, 2004. A year later, Bush made the glib comment that such deaths were "worth it," for folks like Casey died for what noble cause! Cindy, to her great credit, was not going to sit still for that.

NONE OF US SHOULD. And none of us can keep silent when abuses like torture take place in our name. Otherwise, we are all guilty—like those well mannered, obedient Germans of the Thirties.

It was an invigorating experience. I recommend it, or something like it, to all!

The march was facilitated with the help of the Dallas Peace Center. Pictures of the event are below the fold. Click “Read more” to see them.

Z Street: The New Zionist Extremist Group

Z Street: The New Zionist Extremist Group
By Stephen Lendman

On July 6, co-founders Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Allyson Rowen Taylor announced: "Z Street is launched, Will end J Street Treason." More on that below.

Continuing they said:

"Welcome to Z street! No more appeasement, no more negotiating with terrorists, no more enabling cowards who fear offending more than they fear another Holocaust. Z STREET is for those who are willing not only to support - but to defend - Israel, the Jewish State."

Never mind that no nation threatens Israel nor has for decades. It's a regional superpower - nuclearized and defended by the world's fourth most powerful military, armed with the latest state-of-the-art weapons and technology, and not reluctant to use them.

Its only adversaries are self-made and are needed to justify oppression, a culture of violence, an ethnocracy, exclusivity, privilege, and Jewish exceptionalism over others deemed inferior, legitimate enemies, and terrorists.

Zionism is corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful.

Serb Cousins Guilty Of Burning Muslims Alive

Serb cousins guilty of burning Muslims alive | CNN

A U.N. tribunal convicted two Serb cousins Monday of having burned alive more than 100 Muslims in what the presiding judge called a part of the "wretched history of man's inhumanity to man."

Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic were convicted of crimes dating back to the early 1990s, during the bitter ethnic conflict that ravaged the former Yugoslavia.

Milan Lukic organized a group of local paramilitaries with ties to police and the military, sometimes referred to as the "White Eagles" or "Avengers," according to an indictment. Before and during the war, his cousin Sredoje Lukic worked as a policeman before joining the group.

The crimes include two incidents in which Muslim men, women and children were forced into homes that were then set on fire -- and some who tried to escape were shot.

Milan Lukic was found "guilty of persecutions, murder, extermination, cruel treatment and inhumane acts, as crimes against humanity and war crimes, in relation to six discrete incidents," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague said. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Sredoje Lukic was found guilty of "aiding and abetting the commission of the crime of persecutions inhumane acts, murder and cruel treatment." He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Read more.

Saving Private Bergdahl

By Dave Lindorff

Let me say from the outset that I have the greatest sympathy for 23-year-old Bowe R. Bergdahl, the US soldier in Afghanistan who was captured and is being held by Taliban forces, and for his family, who must be going through a living hell worrying about what is going to happen to him.

But I’m willing to bet you that all of them are wishing, right now, that the US had not decided back in 2001 to begin a campaign of torture and murder against the Taliban fighters that it was capturing in Afghanistan, and against others that it has rounded up in the so-called War on Terror.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Send President Memo on Torture

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Send President Memo on Torture

AP Sources: Taliban Video Shows Captive US Soldier

AP sources: Taliban video shows captive US soldier | Watch Prisoner of War Video here.
By Pamela Hess and Lolita Baldor, Associated Press Writers |
Yahoo! News

...a message to the American people.

"To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home," he said. "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home. It is America and American people who have that power."...

On Saturday, a U.S. military official in Kabul, Col. Greg Julian, said the U.S. was "still doing everything we can to return him safely."

Julian said U.S. troops had distributed two flyers in the area where the soldier disappeared. One of them asked for information on the missing soldier and offered a $25,000 reward for his return. The other said "please return our soldier safely" or "we will hunt you," according to Julian.

The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed to have been captured, appeared on a video posted Saturday to a Web site by the Taliban.

Two U.S. defense officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the man in the video is the captured soldier. The video provides the first glimpse the public has had of the missing soldier. Read more.

Government Abandons Reliance On Tortured Evidence In Habeas Case Of Guantánamo Detainee

Government Abandons Reliance On Tortured Evidence In Habeas Case Of Guantánamo Detainee | Press Release
No Credible Evidence To Continue Holding Mohammed Jawad, Says ACLU

The government today stated it would no longer rely on evidence obtained through torture and other coercion in the habeas corpus case challenging the unlawful detention of Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on July 1 to suppress Jawad's statements, and today the Justice Department announced it would not oppose that motion.

"We commend the government for halting its reliance on evidence obtained through torture and other abuse in Mr. Jawad's habeas case," said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and a lawyer for Jawad. "Now it is time to send Jawad home to Afghanistan because there is no credible evidence against him. Nearly seven years of unlawful detention is long enough."

The judge in Jawad's military commission trial previously suppressed statements made by Jawad to Afghan and U.S. officials following his arrest, finding that they were the product of torture. However, the government had continued to rely on those same statements in Jawad's habeas corpus challenge, as well as other statements obtained through Jawad's continued abuse at Bagram and at Guantánamo.

Following his 2002 arrest in Afghanistan for allegedly throwing a grenade at two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter, Jawad was subjected to repeated torture and other mistreatment and to a systematic program of harsh and highly coercive interrogations designed to break him physically and mentally. Eventually, Jawad tried to commit suicide in his cell by slamming his head repeatedly against the wall.

Sources: Tenet Canceled Secret CIA Hit Teams

Sources: Tenet canceled secret CIA hit teams
Successors resurrected the plan, ex-officials say
By Associated Press | MSNBC

As CIA director in 2004, George Tenet terminated a secret program to develop hit teams to kill al-Qaida leaders, but his successors resurrected the plan, according to former intelligence officials.

Tenet ended the program because the agency could not work out its practical details, the officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

Porter Goss, who replaced Tenet in 2005, restarted the program, the former officials said. By the time Michael Hayden succeeded Goss as CIA chief in 2006 the effort was again flagging because of practical challenges. Read more.

Report Claims Israelis Used Palestinians As Human Shields

Report claims Israelis used Palestinians as human shields
From Kevin Flower and Paula Hancocks | CNN

A report from an Israeli advocacy group based on what it says is the testimony of several unnamed Israeli soldiers accuses the Israeli military of intentionally putting Palestinian civilians at risk during its recent operation in Gaza.

The report, released Wednesday from a group called "Breaking the Silence" -- which includes former Israeli soldiers -- has been dismissed by the Israeli military as slanderous.

In the 110-page report, the group said some of the 26 soldiers interviewed said they used Palestinians as human shields during the military's more than two-week long ground operation in Gaza earlier this year.

"In some cases a civilian would be forced to walk in front of soldier while the soldier places his gun barrel on the civilian's shoulder," the report states.

Other soldiers talk about destroying buildings even though the structures posed no direct threat. They also said that white phosphorus was used in densely populated areas and describe the rules of engagement as "permissive." Read more.

A POW's 'Tears in the Darkness'

A POW's 'Tears in the Darkness'
By John Blake | CNN

Ben Steele hated the young man as soon as he saw him.

The man's almond-shaped eyes, dark hair and olive skin -- Steele had seen those Asian facial features before.

He saw that face when he watched Japanese soldiers behead sick men begging for water, run over stumbling prisoners with tanks and split his comrades' skulls with rifle butts.

"Men died like flies," Steele says. "I thought for a while I would never make it."

Steele, now 91, is one of the last survivors of the Bataan Death March.

During World War II, the Japanese army forced American and Filipino prisoners of war on a march so horrific that the Japanese commander was later executed for war crimes.

Steele returned home to Montana after the war to teach, but he still had something to learn.

When he saw a young Japanese-American student seated in his class one day, he felt both anger and anguish.

What, he wondered, do I do with all of the hate I've brought home with me? Read more.

ICRC: Israel Traps Gazans in Deprivation and Despair

ICRC: Israel Traps Gazans in Deprivation and Despair
By Stephen Lendman

Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross is an "impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance." It also tries "to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles."

It's legally mandated to do it under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and has had a permanent presence in Gaza since 1968. Currently 109 ICRC staff work there, including 19 expatriates. They remained throughout Operation Cast Lead and witnessed firsthand the carnage and destruction that took place.

Preventive Detention, at What Cost?

A family vacation over Independence Day offered a poignant reminder of why, over 30 years ago, my parents sought refuge in the U.S. Fleeing the racial hostility they encountered in Britain after escaping the brutality of the Indian Subcontinent's Partition, they found in rural Missouri economic opportunity, political freedom, and small town Midwestern hospitality. Today, the specter of preventive detention calls into question whether my parents' grandchildren will enjoy the same freedom.

Warrantless domestic spying, detention without trial, torture, and excessive secrecy raised concerns across the political spectrum and fueled recent change in the White House. These policies, however, remain equally noxious under the new administration, which currently entertains proposals beyond even its predecessors' wildest plans.

We should begin by removing the beltway spin. Whether called "preventive," "indefinite," or simply "prolonged," prevention detention schemes are essentially lawless, unconstitutional, and un-American. And whether established through an executive order or an act of Congress, they would undermine—not enhance—our national security.

Yoo To Appeal Ruling That Greenlit Torture Lawsuit - On His Own Nickel

Yoo to appeal ruling that greenlit torture lawsuit
By Bob Egelko | SF Chronicle

Former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo will appeal a federal judge's ruling that allowed a prisoner to sue him for devising the legal theories that led to his alleged torture, Yoo's attorneys said today.

President Obama's Justice Department, which represented Yoo in unsuccessfully seeking dismissal of the suit, filed a notice saying he would ask the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to intervene in the case. Department attorneys also said they were dropping out of the case and that Yoo was now represented by a private lawyer, not identified in the court document.

Yoo, a UC Berkeley law professor, was a Justice Department attorney from 2001 to 2003 and wrote a series of memos on interrogation, detention and presidential powers. One of his memos, which he wrote in 2002, said treatment of captives amounted to torture only if it caused the same level of pain as "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death." Read more.

Look Back, Barack!

Double Jeopardy for CIA Interrogators?

Double Jeopardy for CIA Interrogators?
Some Interrogators Facing Potential Criminal Prosecution Have Already Been Disciplined by the CIA, According to Officials
By Jonathan Karl | ABCNews Exclusive

Some of the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogators now facing potential criminal prosecution for how they interrogated alleged terrorists have already been disciplined by the CIA, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The CIA's disciplinary actions were taken in the 2004-05 time frame, after the Justice Department reviewed a still-classified CIA inspector general report on the agency's interrogation program.

At the time, career Department of Justice prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia decided not to prosecute the CIA interrogators, referring their cases back to the agency for possible non-legal disciplinary action.

Among the cases that the Justice Department decided not to prosecute include:

  • The death of Iraqi general Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died in November 2003 after being beaten and stuffed headfirst in a sleeping bag at the U.S. military base in al Asad, Iraq.
  • The death of a prisoner who died of hypothermia at a CIA prison in Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit.

Read more.

The Coup in Honduras: A Teachable Moment for Obama?

The Coup in Honduras: A Teachable Moment for Obama?
by William Hughes

“I bewail the consequences of those furious passions which seem to belong to man.” - Chief Justice John Marshall

A surreal event took place on July 7, 2009, at the National Press Club, (NPC), in Washington, D.C. Some of the representatives of the “de
facto” regime in Honduras, repeatedly denied, in differing fashions, that President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup d’etat on
June 28, 2009. Not long after the press conference began, however, three gutsy protesters, holding the banner, “Fuera Golpistas,” staged a brief demonstration. They insisted on injecting some reality into the proceedings. They shouted that the coup is “illegal, there is blood on your hands!” They were quickly escorted out of the room, which, incidentally, is named in honor of the late, “Free Press” icon--Edward R. Murrow.

Then, the ex-Honduran Ambassador to the U.S., Norman Garcia Paz, stood up and calmly gave his spin on the ongoing crisis in his country. A key question was put to him by a reporter from “La Prensa Grafica.” He wanted to know if it was true, or not, that the removal of President Zelaya by the Army, at gun point, and his forceful transfer to Costa Rica, was “outside the law?” Mr. Paz answered: “Probably, we could have done it a different way...What is done is in the past. We have to move forward.” (1)

On the way back to Baltimore that day from the NPC, I thought to myself that those Honduran guys were just full of hot air. They were in to denying reality--big time! Then, I had an epiphany! Aren’t the lame excuses for not acknowledging the coup, for not following the laws of Honduras in the removal of President Zelaya, and for not doing any thing about the coup afterwards, the same kind of silly crap that we have been getting about the lack of accountability on torture, which occurred under the reign of the Bush-Cheney Gang? How many times have we heard from our elected congressional politicos, their shills in the media, and the White House operatives, too, something such as this: “Torture, rendition, waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, they are all in the past. Let’s move on!” (2)

AP Source: Holder Considering Torture Probe

AP source: Holder considering torture probe
By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writer | Yahoo! News

Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation practices, a controversial move that would run counter to President Barack Obama's wishes to leave the issue in the past.

Holder plans to make a final decision within the next few weeks, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press on Saturday night. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on a pending matter.

Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said Holder planned to "follow the facts and the law."

"We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry," he said. "As the attorney general has made clear, it would be unfair to prosecute any official who acted in good faith based on legal guidance from the Justice Department." Read more.

Former Insider Shatters Credibility of Military Commissions

Former Insider Shatters Credibility of Military Commissions

By Andy Worthington | www.AndyWorthington.co.UK

Andy Worthington wrote: "If the Obama administration and Congress are determined to prove that they can revive discredited Bush-era policies with just a little spin, I think it's crucial that as many people as possible are at least aware of the depth of this colossal mistake."

US Senate logo     On Wednesday, I reported how Retired Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, the former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy from 1997 to 2000, had delivered compelling testimony to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “legal issues regarding military commissions and the trial of detainees for violations of the law of war,” explaining why the only valid forum for trials of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay is the US federal court system.

The lucidity and directness of Hutson’s testimony was in marked contrast to the amendments to the existing Military Commission system — and terrifying asides about the use of “preventive detention” — that were proposed by Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s General Counsel, and David Kris, the Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in response to legislation already prepared by the Committee, which, it seems, will be presented to the Senate in the imminent future, even though it still allows (subject to certain restrictions) the use of information — I hesitate to use the word “evidence” — obtained through coercion, and other information that is nothing more than hearsay.

The day after Hutson delivered his testimony, the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on “Legal Issues Surrounding the Military Commissions System,” in which Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld of the US Reserves, a former prosecutor in the Military Commissions, delivered what should, I believe, be the final word on the unsuitability of Military Commissions as a valid trial system (PDF).

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld      Vandeveld, who served in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan before volunteering for Guantánamo, and who has been decorated on several occasions, sent shockwaves through the Commission system under the Bush administration, when he spectacularly resigned last September, declaring, “I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.” He added that the “incomplete or unreliable” discovery process “deprive[s] the accused of basic due process and subject[s] the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct.”

The particular trigger for the dissatisfaction that led him to tell the Committee about “the mistaken proposals to revise and revive the irretrievably flawed military commissions at Guantánamo Bay,” and that turned him from, as he described it, a “true believer to someone who felt truly deceived,” was the incompetence and obstruction he encountered as he tried to build a case against Mohamed Jawad, an Afghan prisoner accused of throwing a grenade that injured two US soldiers and an Afghan translator in December 2002, and it was this journey to the “dark side” that he reprised for the Committee on Wednesday to such devastating effect.

Read more.

Kaua‘i Mother Helps Children in Gaza

Kaua‘i mother helps children in Gaza
By Jonea Schillaci-Lavergne | Garden Island

On May 28, 66 delegates, organized by CODEPINK, gathered at the Pension Roma hotel in Cairo, Egypt where we prepared for a long trip across the Sinai into Gaza, Palestine.

There were delegates from 10 countries and 18 U.S. states.

This was my first trip to Gaza, but for others, like former Col. Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin, it was their third trip since the December 2008/January 2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza.

When I heard the focus of this trip to Gaza was about the children and to set up playgrounds in the parks and to bring them sports equipment and toys, I signed on. According to Ann Wright, who inspired me to join the delegation, simple crayons for art were not permitted into Gaza due to the Israeli siege. The playgrounds would offer the children a time-out from the daily reminders of the war and let them know they have not been forgotten.

On May 29 we headed for Al-Arish, just 26 miles from the Egyptian border where we stayed for the night. The next morning we arrived at the border hoping we would be lucky enough to cross into Gaza that day. Another Canadian delegation, after a two-day wait at the border, finally made it across, however, another group (I believe all doctors) was denied entrance for two weeks. They finally went on a hunger strike as a means of protest.

To our amazement, CODEPINK was permitted to cross into Gaza almost immediately. Upon our arrival to the Rafah terminal, we were greeted by several photographers, cameramen and the UN Relief And Works Agency. There, we were followed by UN security to their facility, where the UN director, John Ging, gave his welcoming speech. Read more.

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