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Dahr Jamail writes:
It is important to draw our attention to this article by my co-recipient of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer. Please find call to action at the end of this article.-DJ
June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London -- an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.
I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.
Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine .
After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain -- and a search for justice. Read more.
Over 100 State Bar Complaints Filed This Week Against Torture Lawyer William Haynes | Press Release
Hundreds More Expected Demanding Accountability From Cal Bar
SAN FRANCISCO - June 26 - The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) delivered over 100 complaints against former Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes to the California State Bar offices Thursday in San Francisco. The complaints came from ordinary Americans demanding that the state bar "conduct a thorough investigation of Mr. Haynes' actions and omissions while General Counsel at the Department of Defense. The complaints further demand a written formal decision on the outcome of the investigation.
The complaints were a response to a campaign launched by the NLGSF empowering people to petition the state bar for disciplinary action against Haynes who, while with the Department of Defense during the Bush administration, legally advocated for and even championed policies of torture at Guantanamo Bay and beyond. Complaints came mostly from California residents but also from as far away as Maine and Washington D.C. They continue to arrive by mail to NLGSF offices in San Francisco, all to eventually be forwarded to the state bar.
"This campaign is appropriate because William Haynes was one of the lawyers shaping policy that harmed so many prisoners and put all of us in greater danger," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. "Anyone can file a complaint against a California lawyer, and while the process should never be abused, the process ought to be available to anyone and everyone when a lawyer commits wrongdoing from a position of power in our government resulting in such a devastating and widespread effect."
Rae Rae Abileah reported on the San Francisco Torture Accountability Day:
Check out photos from our San Francisco Bye Bye Bybee rally on Flickr.
This coalition effort was in protest of "Torture Judge" Bybee who has a lifetime appointment to the 9th Circuit Court (The building we are standing outside of in the photos). We are calling for Bybee's resignation, impeachment, disbarment, and prosecution, and after the rally activists delivered an over 60 page document with incriminating info to the courts.
Many thanks to Cynthia and Susan for a phenomenal job coordinating three events on the same day (a press conference at the state bar office where a ethics complaints on Jim Hayes were filed, the Bybee rally and report delivery, and an evening speaking event with Ray McGovern)!!! And many thanks to our intern Kristy for painting a fantastic new banner. It was very moving to hear speakers from Amnesty International, Veterans for Peace, and CODEPINK speak about the need to pursue justice, to preserve our Constitution, to right the wrongs of the past 8 years so that we can move forward with integrity.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. This report is based on the accounts of witnesses reached in Iran and official statements carried on Iranian media.
A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran's protest leaders to be punished "without mercy" and said some should face execution — harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime's crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.
Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.
"Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution," Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.
Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were "at war with God" and should be "dealt with without mercy." Read more.
Daytona Beach, FL - On Thursday evening, June 25th, 2009, at the CODEPINK of East Central Florida weekly antiwar demonstration, members of the Central Florida chapter of Veterans For Peace, the Florida chapter of Military Families Speak Out, and the Orlando chapter of WeAreChange Florida took to the streets in Daytona Beach to participate in the National Torture Accountability Action Day.
The action in Daytona Beach coincided with similar events taking place in cities and towns all across the United States, along with an all-day rally in Washington, DC sponsored by AfterDowningStreet.org and many other peace and social justice groups in the AfterDowningStreet.org Coalition, as a public call from the people of America for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the U.S. government's practice of illegal torture. See photos under the fold.
Ever since President Obama proposed holding terrorism detainees without trial, the debate over preventive detention has been growing. Now, NPR has the first look at a detailed legislative proposal to hold detainees indefinitely. The document comes from two experts outside of government, and it is already being discussed in the Obama administration.
In a speech last month at the National Archives, President Obama opened the door to the possibility that some terrorism detainees will neither be tried nor released.
"If and when we determine the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war," he said, "we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight."
Attorney General Eric Holder was not much more specific last week when he testified before a Senate committee that a preventive detention program "would be some kind of review with regard to the initial determination [that the detainee should be held], and then a periodic review with regard to whether or not that person should continue to be detained."
Although the controversy has been hazy until now, it is about to come into sharp focus. Read more.
National Coalition To File Formal Complaints And Call For Dismissal Of The Lawyer Architects of Detainee Torture Programs
National Coalition to file formal complaints and call for dismissal of ‘Torture Architect’ and current top CIA lawyer, John Rizzo, and other current and former CIA counsel | Press Release
Washington, D.C. – On Monday, June 29th at 9:30AM in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, ( Map ) three prominent D.C. lawyers, including a former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, will discuss the legal case against the lawyer architects of a program of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees held in the custody of the U.S. government since shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
The sponsoring coalition, Velvet Revolution, has called for the disbarment of over a dozen lawyers filing formal complaints in five states as part of a national campaign described at disbartorturelawyers.com.
Academics' Declaration of Support for Iranian Demonstrators | Press Release
*NEW YORK, June 24, 2009 - *Today the New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy circulated the open letter below from academics in support of the demonstrators in Iran. The statement was initiated by two scholars in the United Kingdom, Peter Hallward and Alberto Toscano. I has been signed by individuals from several countries; the initial signers include Etienne Balibar, Paris X, Nanterre, and University of California, Irvine; Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis); Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley; Noam Chomsky, MIT, Cambridge MA USA; Rada Ivekovic, Collège international de philosophie, Paris, Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne; and Slavoj ?i?ek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and the European Graduate School. The full list of signers is below.
A 4-Part report in recognition of tortured survivors and in memory of those murdered by torture. Torture Accountability Day: this Thursday, June 25th.
Disappearing citizens a la "School Of Assassins" (SOA) mode, torturing them, including children (even sexually), hanging people from ceilings, water boarding, sleep deprivation, slicing genitals, and raping are more than an embarrassing scandal. These are war crimes.
These war crimes can be perpetrated against anyone anywhere, overseas and in the US, as reflected in the Irish video banned by U.S. mainstream media, “Bush: Torture is Good for USA.”
Increasingly, Americans and American based organizations are standing for the U.S. Constitution and against the U.S. kidnap and torture treatment.
This Thursday, Torture Accountability Day, in at least ten cities across America including Pasadena, California, people are publicly gathering to help ensure high-ranking U.S. officials who authorized torture are held accountable.
American patriots are steadfastly countering the petro-military industrial complex backed media that applied the war weapon, Disinformation for a successful campaign that helped lead 70% of Americans to justify U.S. torture by believing it keeps them safer, as highlighted in the recent article by Psychologists for Social Responsibility President, Roy Eidelson. Read more.
Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space wrote the following to the Times Record in Brunswick, Maine.
The national media made a big deal about President Obama killing a fly. His "I got the sucker" was even compared to a similar moment by honest Abe Lincoln.
But sadly little time in the national media is spent describing the tragic consequences to hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been killed by United States unmanned aerial vehicles, or "drones" as they are popularly called.
Since 1997, every June 26 has been formally recognized as the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture. Political leaders around the globe take the occasion to proclaim their opposition to barbarism.
On June 26, 2003, President George W. Bush proudly declared: “The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment.”
This was one of the most fraudulent assertions since 1936, when the new Soviet constitution guaranteed Soviet citizens complete freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. But this “perfect constitution” did nothing to prevent Stalin from sending millions of people to their deaths in the Gulag and in front of firing squads.
Similarly, Bush’s anti-torture proclamation did nothing to stop his administration from formalizing perhaps the most brutal abuses in modern American history. Top Bush administration officials created twisted rationales to authorize simulated drowning, “walling” (throwing detainees up against a wall, repeated ad nauseam), sleep deprivation (as long as it did not last more than 11 days), head slappings, and other methods to shatter people’s will and resistance.
The fact that the Bush administration engaged in torture in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and secret prison sites around the world is now no longer in dispute. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is rapidly become complicit in Bush torture crimes. Read more.
Opinion: Torture eats away at the soul of this nation
By Diana Gibson and Ray McGovern | Special to the Mercury News
Anniversaries can be important. This Friday marks the 22nd anniversary of the U.N. Convention against Torture, ratified and signed under President Reagan. Last Friday marked the 150th day of the presidency of Barack Obama, who is trying to put a definitive end to the torture approved by the Bush-Cheney administration.
That Obama has not been able to do so is our collective shame. Worse still, the president has apparently concluded that he lacks the support to deter future abominations of this sort by launching a proper investigation and holding to account those responsible.
Something evil has seeped into the soul of our nation. Those many years when we looked the other way, choosing to ignore the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, eroded our morality.
Americans who claim to believe in human dignity and the law do not seem scandalized by this inhumane and illegal activity. Many people of faith appear willing to tolerate unspeakable cruelty. Christians who follow one who himself was tortured by the powers of his time evidently are now ready to justify our own government's use of torture. Read more.
Iranian security forces clashed with hundreds of protesters in Tehran Wednesday, badly beating some and killing others, sources said.
"They were waiting for us," a source told CNN. "They all have guns and riot uniforms. It was like a mouse trap."
Witnesses reached outside the national Parliament building told The New York Times the confrontation was bloody and police used live ammunition. The protesters had defied government warnings and hundreds, perhaps thousands, descended on the square in front of parliament, the Times said.
A source told CNN about "500 thugs" with clubs came out of a mosque and attacked people, and the security forces were "beating women madly" and "killing people like hell." Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
As a critic of media, in particular of cable/satellite "news," I'm troubled by American corporate-media, specifically CNN's near non-stop coverage of the turmoil in Iran. Not because the story isn't important. It's critically important and warrants the personal coverage it's getting from the Iranian people as they bypass corporate channels to tell their stories on facebook, youtube, flickr and twitter.
Thanks to Iran's tech-savvy society, old-time corporate media is now relegated to the position of new-media aggregator, whoring its visibility to co-opt the Iranian people's new-media messages to America and the world. Old-media, and specifically CNN, are learning the difficult lesson that with or without their vast resources and state of the art studios, the Iranians' stories will be told. And they'll be told to tens of millions more viewers than cable and satellite programs tend to reach.
Medical Conflicts of Interest and the Glass Houses
Health Care Overhaul Must Start With Doctors, One Physician Notes
Opinion by Dr. Nortin Hadler | ABCNews.com
Health care reform is focused on the quality of care, its accessibility and its cost. The debate is heated and likely to intensify in the months to come. It is also loud, so as to drown out debate on a focus for reform far more critical than impending fiscal bankruptcy.
There is debate on the degree to which health care in the United States is ethically bankrupt, and what to do about it. The Institute of Medicine and nearly every other professional organization in the health arena has chimed in. Academic health centers and unaffiliated hospitals are racing to write or expand policy statements on conflicts of interest in regard to clinical activities. Read more.
Lipstick Revolution: Iranian Women Take To The Streets
Women Opposing Ahmadinejad Demand Equal Rights, Economic Opportunities
By Martha Raddatz and Susan Rucci | ABCNews.com
The huge rallies this week in Iran, the largest seen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, have included thousands of women, who have taken to the streets to oppose the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some have dubbed itthe "lipstick revolution."
A week after the contested election that declared incumbent President Ahmadinejad the winner, protests over alleged voting fraud still continue strong.
Women, old and young, are visible at every rally -- chanting, shouting, defiantly flashing V for Victory signs, carrying placards protesting the election results, defying the police and, in some cases, facing brutal retaliation.
Others say the presence of so many woman is only the tip of the iceberg. "This movement is not about wearing lipstick and throwing their veil off," Kelly Nikinejad, editor of Tehranbureau.com, told ABC News. "It's so much deeper than that." Read more.
Two militants' leaders who defected from notorious Taliban chief in Pakistan have revealed that their comrade was pursuing a US-Israeli agenda across the country.
A prominent militant leader, Turkistan Bittani, who broke away from Baitullah Mehsud, called him "an American agent".
Mehsud, a warlord in his late 30s, has claimed responsibility for dozens of devastating string attacks on both civilians and security forces throughout the feared region.
Moreover, Baetani emphasized that Mehsud was being funded by US and Israeli intelligence services for brainwashing innocent youths.
The insurgents' chief has recruited several teenagers who have carried out dozens of suicide attacks on Pakistani mosques and educational institutes over some past months. Read more.
Bush Assails Those Who Offer Terrorists 'Therapy' -- Though His Administration Sent Detainees to Saudi Counseling Center
Bush Assails Those Who Offer Terrorists 'Therapy' -- Though His Administration Sent Detainees to Saudi Counseling Center
By Jake Tapper | Political Punch | ABCNews
At a speaking engagement last night, former President George W. Bush defended his administration's counterterrorism policies, including Guantanamo Bay, the Washington Times reports.
"The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again," Mr. Bush said.
Refraining from directly criticizing President Obama, Mr. Bush said, "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind." Read more.
CIA Destroyed Torture Tapes After CIA IG Report Concluded U.S. Violated Laws
Posted by Jason Leopold | My News Junkie
The CIA destroyed videotapes that showed its agents subjecting high-level al-Qaeda detainees to waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods after the agency’s inspector general issued a classified report in the spring of 2004 that concluded the techniques used on the prisoners “appeared to constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, as defined by the International Convention Against Torture.”
In a little known Jan. 10, 2008 declaration in response to a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to hold the CIA in contempt for destroying the videotapes, the CIA provided insight into CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s report and revealed that he viewed the torture tapes.
“In January 2003, [Office of Inspector General] OIG initiated a special review of the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program. This review was intended to evaluate CIA detention and interrogation activities, and was not initiated in response to an allegation of wrongdoing,” the declaration says. “During the course of the special review, OIG was notified of the existence of videotapes of the interrogations of detainees. OIG arranged with the NCS to review the videotapes at the overseas location where they were stored. Read more.
The Central Intelligence Agency is attempting to prevent the Obama administration from releasing a May 2004 Inspector General's report describing and evaluating the agency's treatment of detainees and interrogation practices, according to today's Washington Post. A redacted version of about 12 paragraphs of text was released in May 2008 as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. The Obama administration promised a review of the IG report last month after the ACLU appealed the decision in that case.
Tony Blair knew of secret policy on terror interrogations
Letter reveals former PM was aware of guidance to UK agents
By Ian Cobain | Guardian.co.UK
Tony Blair was aware of the existence of a secret interrogation policy which effectively led to British citizens, and others, being tortured during counter-terrorism investigations, the Guardian can reveal.
The policy, devised in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, offered guidance to MI5 and MI6 officers questioning detainees in Afghanistan whom they knew were being mistreated by the US military.
British intelligence officers were given written instructions that they could not "be seen to condone" torture and that they must not "engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners".
Torture timeline: Seven years of abuse allegations
By Ian Cobain | Guardian.co.UK
January 2002: First MI5 interrogators arrive in Afghanistan.
January 2002: MI6 officer conducts first interview with a detainee held by the Americans and alerts London to his mistreatment.
January 2002 MI5 and MI6 officers told not to take part in mistreatment of detainees, or be seen to condone it, but are also told they are not obliged to halt it. Read more.
CIA IG's Torture Report Referred Detainee Murder Cases to DOJ
By Jason Leopold | The Public Record
President Barack Obama’s promise of a more open government faces a new test this week as his administration weighs whether to release details of a May 2004 internal CIA report about the agency’s use of torture, including how at least three detainees were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The secret findings of CIA Inspector General John Helgerson led to eight criminal referrals to the Justice Department for homicide and other misconduct, but those cases languished as Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly intervened to constrain Helgerson’s inquiries.
Heavily redacted portions of Helgerson’s report were released to the American Civil Liberties Union in May 2008 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, but the ACLU appealed the Bush administration’s extensive deletions and the Obama administration agreed to respond to that appeal by Friday. Read more.
Crisis in Iran: A Statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy
NEW YORK, June 17, 2009 - Today the New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy released the statement below in response to the unfolding events in Iran.
Crisis in Iran: A Statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy
We are horrified at what the Iranian government is doing in the aftermath of the June 12th elections. In a wave of state terror, security forces have arrested hundreds of oppositionists, reformist officials and ex-officials, and human rights activists. Using clubs, whips, chains, machetes and guns, they have viciously attacked protesters; many have been killed. Media, both domestic and international, have been shut down or restricted, and the authorities have attempted to prevent people from communicating with one another via cell phone, text messaging and Internet networking sites. All protest demonstrations have been banned.
The Audacity of War Crimes
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO DEMAND JUSTICE
Contact the Office of the Attorney General, District of Columbia to demand that our charges be dropped:
- Call Assistant Attorney General, Elizabeth A. Meyers at 202-727-3500 and/or at her Direct Line 202-727-4783 to leave a message.
- Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001 to demand the appointment of an Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush Administration.
On January 6, 2009, seventy people came to Washington D.C. from all over the United States to participate in the MARCH OF THE DEAD.
Our goal was to stage a peaceful protest displaying the ever-increasing death toll due to the AUDACITY OF WAR CRIMES committed by our government.
Our right to assemble and petition our government for redress of grievances was disrupted when the Capitol Police stopped the reading of the names of the dead from the illegal wars and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
Seventeen of us were arrested.
U.S. has decided fate of half Guantanamo detainees
By By Tabassum Zakaria | Reuters
The U.S. government has decided the fate of about half the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and no more than a quarter of them will go on trial, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.
President Barack Obama's order for the prison for foreign terrorism suspects on a naval base in Cuba to be closed by the end of January has met resistance in Congress where some lawmakers are opposing any transfers to the United States.
Last week nine prisoners were transferred to Saudi Arabia, Bermuda, Iraq and Chad. One prisoner, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused of involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, was sent to New York and became the first detainee transferred to the United States for trial by civilian court.
"We've gone through about half of the detainees at this point," Holder said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
There are 229 captives still being held at Guantanamo. The camp, opened after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, drew international criticism for holding prisoners indefinitely, many without charge. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran’s just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran’s government, saying, “Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence.”
Referring to the tens and hundreds of thousands of frustrated and angry Iranians who have taken to the streets accusing Iranian authorities of rigging the election in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Obama said that “the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected."
But there is a certain hypocrisy going on here.