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FBI: Beating At Cracker Barrel May Be Hate Crime

FBI: Beating at Cracker Barrel may be hate crime
By Craig Johnson | CNN

The FBI is investigating as a possible hate crime an incident in which a woman was beaten to the ground in front of her child at the entrance to a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, Georgia, south of Atlanta.

Troy Dale West Jr., of Poulan, Georgia, is facing charges including misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct after allegedly beating Army reservist Tashawnea Hill, 35, after the two had words at the entrance of the Morrow, Georgia, restaurant the evening of September 9.

Hill, an African-American, told police that West, 47, yelled racial epithets at her as the attack took place.

"He did punch me with a closed fist repeated times. My head is still hurting today. I have knots on my head," Hill told CNN Wednesday night, adding she also was kicked.

Police said witnesses confirmed her account.

The FBI has "initiated an investigation in the matter to determine if a civil rights violation occurred," the agency said in a statement.

Because the alleged incident happened in full view of Hill's 7-year-old daughter, the Clayton County district attorney's office added a felony charge of cruelty to children.

"[The woman's daughter] was visibly upset the night of the attack," according to Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department, who said he was on the scene shortly after the alleged attack.

A police report of the incident said Hill's daughter was "crying uncontrollably and her body [was] shaking/trembling" from witnessing the attack. Read more.

Lynching Victim Emmett Till's Casket To Go To Smithsonian

Lynching Victim Emmett Till's Casket to go to Smithsonian
By Don Babwin | Black News

The glass-topped casket that displayed lynching victim Emmett Till's disfigured body to the world and became a rallying point for the civil rights movement is headed to the Smithsonian Institution, Till's family announced Friday.

"Hopefully, when this casket, when it's on display at the Smithsonian, young boys and young girls from all over the world are going to see it and it's going to inspire them to fight for those who are too weak to fight for themselves," said Simeon Wright, Till's cousin.

At the South Side church where Mamie Till-Mobley insisted in 1955 on opening the casket that held the remains of her 14-year-old son - and allowed photographs to be taken and published - Wright said her message of what racism looks like still needs to be told.

"Fifty years from now someone will tell the story ... that they murdered him, threw him in the Tallahatchie River, would they believe it without the casket?" asked Wright. He was 12 and was with Till the night the black teenager was pulled from his bed in Mississippi and murdered for whistling at a white woman.

Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian's planned National Museum of African American History and Culture, where the casket will be displayed, said he knows of no other casket of a specific American put on display this way at the Smithsonian. He called it a key artifact from the civil rights movement that helps tell the story of what is both one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history and a moment that helped change it.

"Part of the responsibility of a national museum is to help people to remember, and through this donation we will ensure that future generations will remember how the death of a child, a mother's courage, helped to transform America," Bunch said. Read more.

AnthonyWeiner FDL 9 16 09

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, The Washington Influence Machine

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, The Washington Influence Machine |

Congressman Joe ("You lie!") Wilson is undoubtedly not completely ignorant about how our health care system actually works. After all, in the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, he's received $244,196 in contributions from the health-care profession -- and that doesn't even count another $86,150 from the pharmaceutical industry or the $68,000 that came in from hospitals and nursing homes. In fact, if you go to the page at that organization's website on Congressional contributions and start clicking around among the members of Congress, you'll be struck by how many times the health and pharmaceutical industries (and their lobbyists) pop up.

It's not so surprising, of course, since there are staggering sums of money at stake, which means striking amounts of the same to inject like some potent drug directly into the bloodstream of our political system. Consider but one figure: since 2002, according to Harper's Magazine, the profits of the top 10 health insurance companies have increased by 428%. And the CEOs of those top insurers have a personal incentive for ensuring that those profits don't slide due to new health-care legislation; after all, they made a combined $690 million in the last nine years.

In fact, any administration arriving in Washington wanting to do anything these days walks into a blizzard of money, not to speak of the fact that the wind at its back, the campaign wind that got it there, was already blowing strong with similar contributions. TomDispatch regular Andy Kroll offers a vivid portrait of that world at this moment and what it means for the Obama administration. Tom

Obama vs. the Lobbyists
A Scorecard for the Future of American Politics
By Andy Kroll

At the end of this summer of discontent, of death panels and unplugging poor Grandma, of birthers and astroturfers and rifle-toting picketers, the halcyon early days of the Obama administration feel increasingly like hazy, gilt-edged memories. The president's sprawling legislative agenda -- a health-care overhaul, financial regulation reform, slashing wasteful military spending, and climate change legislation legislation -- is slowly grinding its way through the halls of Congress. Barack Obama's sheen, his administration's unflagging confidence, and all the bipartisan, post-racial aspirations have been replaced by the hard realities of Washington politicking. And with the media's lens more tightly focused than ever on Washington's every move and utterance 24/7, anything said a few months back feels like a lifetime ago.

One particular statement from distant April, however, bears revisiting. The president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, then grasped not only the magnitude of what was being undertaken, but the raft of entrenched interests lining up in opposition. As he told the New York Times:

"We're not taking on a fight; we're taking on a multiple-front fight because we've taken on a series of entrenched interests across the waterfront -- from education to health care, and the defense industry, and the lobbying industry as a whole… There will be a scorecard at the end of which ones we won and which ones we didn't, but every one of those policy challenges have been initiated by us."Read more.

The Green Party Responds To Obama's speech: Mr. President, Make Health Care A Right For All Americans

The Green Party responds to Obama's speech: Mr. President, make health care a right for all Americans | Press Release

  • America needs Medicare For All/Single-Payer, not a life-support system for insurance companies and HMOs
  • Whether Obamacare passes or the GOP blocks health care reform, insurance companies will win and American people will lose
  • Attention paid to Obamacare vs. town hall hecklers eclipses the fact that most Americans want national health care, according to polls

The following is a Green Party response to President Obama's address to Congress on September 9, 2009

President Obama was correct when he said, quoting the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, that health care was fundamentally a moral issue and a matter of "social justice and the character of our country." President Obama understands that we're in a national crisis -- that's why he wants to lead on health care reform.

But the President stopped short of asserting that health care should be made a right for all Americans. He said he has "no interest in putting insurance companies out of business." He did not admit the fact that the insurance industry's very existence depends on the power to restrict coverage, deny claims to those with coverage, cancel coverage for people when they need medical care most, and reject people who are high-risk because of low income, age, and prior medical condition. (President Obama related several accounts of such outrages in his speech.) The insurance business plays a middle-man role, exacting huge fees for its profits, administrative costs, overhead, and high CEO salaries, while providing no medical services.

As long as for-profit insurance continues to exist, access to health care remains secondary to corporate middle-man profits. Replacing private insurance and HMO coverage with a plan to make Medicare universal is the only solution.

Since Medicare doesn't function to make a profit, its administrative costs are about three percent. For-profit insurance takes about a 30 percent bite out of health care spending and imposes unwieldy administrative costs and paperwork on doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers. That's why health care eats up over 15 percent of domestic spending in the US, compared to about 9 percent in Canada, which has a Single-Payer system. Read more.

You're Invited to the 33rd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards, Thursday, October 15, 2009

Institute for Policy Studies Invites you to the

33rd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards

Thursday, October 15, 2009

National Press Club Ballroom, 13th Floor
529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC

5:30 PM: Reception and Light Fare
7:00 PM: Human Rights Program

* * *
RSVP & Reservations
Early Bird tickets: $40 through September 30th

DC Preps for Exotic Evening of Dance, Art and Music Benefiting the International Lifeline Fund Thurs. 9/24, RSVP Now!

Please RSVP by Sat. 9/19 -

International Lifeline Fund

The International Lifeline Fund is a non-profit humanitarian relief organization based in Washington, D.C. In the three short years since it became operational in 2006, this cutting edge organization that has found ways to dramatically reduce human misery and environmental destruction at remarkably low cost. In an effort to get the most bang out of every buck, Lifeline has been promoting cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining programs, which give vulnerable individuals the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of their societies.

Lifeline’s signature initiative involves the promotion of sustainable fuel technologies in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, which, in the past two decades, have lost approximately one-third of their forest cover. Literally half of this loss is attributable to cooking on an open fire – a method that is extremely hazardous to human health and that retards the living standards of women who must spend countless hours collecting wood. In an effort to address these and other problems associated with open fire cooking, Lifeline has provided some 50,000 fuel-efficient clay stoves to women who have been displaced by violence in Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Northern Uganda. At a cost of as little as $2 each, these stoves have profoundly improved the lives of scores of thousands and slowed the pace of deforestation by greatly reducing the amount of wood needed for cooking.

Hey St. Paul! Madison! You're Next! The Mad As Hell Doctors Are Heading Your Way! Be There! Updated Schedule Here!

September 16th

When: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, 3:00 PM

Where: Capitol Rotunda, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

When: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, 7:00 PM

Where: St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave. St., St. Paul, MN 55105

September 17

Mad as Hell in Madison!
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Dr.
Contact: Charles Uphoff

Mad as Hell in Madison!
Capitol Building
State Street Entrance
N. Carroll & W. Mifflin St.
Contact: Charles Uphoff

Mad as Hell in Madison!
The Dardanelles Restaurant
Fundraising Dinner
1851 Monroe Street
Contact: Charles Uphoff

September 18

Mad as Hell in Gary!
McBride Union Hall
1301 Texas Ave.
Contact: Karen Kroczek

Chicago Preps for "MadasHellDoctors" Town Hall with Dr. Quentin Young, Saturday, 9/26, U of IL Pharm School Chicago event with Dr. Quentin Young | Press Release

When: Saturday, September 26, 2009, 11 AM

Where: UIC School of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood Street, Chicago IL 60612 (Map)

Furious with the lack of real health care solutions coming out of Washington, D.C., a group of "Mad as Hell" physicians set out from Portland, Oregon, Sept. 8th on an unprecedented road trip across America to lobby Congress for a single payer health care system. On Saturday, September 26, they bring their "Care-A-Van" to Chicago for a town hall meeting at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The group is inviting the public to the meeting, which kicks off at 11 the UIC School of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood Street. The Chicago stop comes just days before the doctors´ journey culminates with a protest on the steps of Congress on September 30.

"We´re mad as hell because our health care system is run by people who profit from illness," says Dr. Paul Hochfeld, lead Mad As Hell Doctor. "Other wealthy nations have test-driven single payer, and it works. But elected officials in America have closed the door to discussion. We´re
here to open it."

Health Care Deceit

Health Care Deceit
By Paul Craig Roberts | Information Clearing House

"It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so....
The private sector is no longer the answer, because the income levels of the vast majority of Americans are insufficient to bear the cost of health insurance today. To provide some perspective, the monthly premium for a 60-year old female for a group policy (employer-provided) with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Florida is about $1,200. That comes to $14,400 per year. Only employees in high productivity jobs that can provide both a livable salary and health care can expect to have employer-provided coverage. If a 60-year old female has to buy a non-group policy as an individual, the premium would be even higher. How, for example, is a Wal-Mart shelf stocker or check out clerk going to be able to pay a private insurance premium?"

The current health care “debate” shows how far gone representative government is in the United States. Members of Congress represent the powerful interest groups that fill their campaign coffers, not the people who vote for them.

The health care bill is not about health care. It is about protecting and increasing the profits of the insurance companies. The main feature of the health care bill is the “individual mandate,” which requires everyone in America to buy health insurance. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont), a recipient of millions in contributions over his career from the insurance industry, proposes to impose up to a $3,800 fine on Americans who fail to purchase health insurance.

The determination of “our” elected representatives to serve the insurance industry is so compelling that Congress is incapable of recognizing the absurdity of these proposals.
The reason there is a health care crisis in the US is that the cumulative loss of jobs and benefits has swollen the uninsured to approximately 50 million Americans. They cannot afford health insurance any more than employers can afford to provide it.

It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so. A person who cannot pay a health insurance premium cannot pay the fine.

These proposals are like solving the homeless problem by requiring the homeless to purchase a house. Read more.

Rep. Kucinich Announces Health Insurance Oversight Hearing Witness List for Tomorrow, Thursday

~Chip's Note: Rep. Kucinich is Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee.

Health Insurance Oversight Hearing Witness List | Press Release

Washington D.C. (September 15, 2009) – Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced the witness list for the upcoming two-part hearing entitled, “Between You and Your Doctor: the Bureaucracy of Private Health Insurance,” that will be held on September 16 and 17, 2009. The hearing will examine how the bureaucracy of private health insurance companies affects the medical care of patients.

On Wednesday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2154, the Subcommittee will hear testimony from:

John Conyers In Support Of Universal Health Care

John Conyers in support of Universal Health Care. Washington, DC 5-13-09

Health Care or Insurance Care - Take Your Pick - Here's What You Can Do!

Health Care or Insurance Care - Take Your Pick - Here's What You Can Do!
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich

The President's health care policy speech was brilliant but when you get into the details another picture emerges. Unfortunately, at this point, the proposal outlined last night is the ultimate corporate giveaway. It's not health care, it’s insurance care. As many as thirty million new customers for an insurance industry which makes money not providing health care. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care. That is the essence of HR676, the single payer bill.

The President opened his speech speaking of how we have solved the economic crisis - how? By rewarding those who caused the crash! Is this the way we solve the health care crisis? Rewarding the insurance companies? Helping insurance and pharmaceutical stock to soar, propping up markets while skimping on health care? The very same system which caused the health care crisis is being rewarded with the guarantee of tens of millions of new customers mandated - by law - to have health care. The latest plan rewards the very companies that have denied treatment, denied care, denied drug coverage while their profits grow daily.

The only way this country will see true sustainable economic recovery is through investment in the real economy, priming the pump through job creation. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care.

The "public option" has been relegated to insignificance. What we will now get is yet another "private option", not a public option, because single-payer is "off the table." We the people deserve better. We have been faced with general warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan - multi-trillion dollar ballouts for arms merchants, $12 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, bailouts to coal and nuclear industries, and now proposed huge subsidies for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. What's wrong with this picture? Everything!

Let's Save The Status Quo!

Brought to you by Billionaires for Wealthcare, a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, HMO lobbyists, talk-show hosts, and others profiting off of our broken health care system. We'll do whatever it takes to ensure another decade where your pain is our gain. After all, when it comes to healthcare, if we ain't broke, why fix it?

It's Simple: Medicare for All

It's Simple: Medicare for All
By George S. McGovern | Washington Post

We know that Medicare has worked well for half a century for those of us over 65. Why does it become "socialized medicine" when we extend it to younger Americans?

For many years, a handful of American political leaders -- including the late senator Ted Kennedy and now President Obama -- have been trying to gain passage of comprehensive health care for all Americans. As far back as President Harry S. Truman, they have urged Congress to act on this national need. In a presentation before a joint session of Congress last week, Obama offered his view of the best way forward.

But what seems missing in the current battle is a single proposal that everyone can understand and that does not lend itself to demagoguery. If we want comprehensive health care for all our citizens, we can achieve it with a single sentence: Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans.

Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It's wonderful. But I would have appreciated it even more if my wife and children and I had had such health-care coverage when we were younger. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive. Removing the payments now going to the insurance corporations would considerably offset the tax increase necessary to cover all Americans.

I don't feel as though the government is meddling in my life when it pays my doctor and hospital fees. There are some things the government does that I don't like -- most notably getting us into needless wars that cost many times what health care for all Americans would cost. Investing in the health of our citizens will enhance the well-being and security of the nation. Read more.

Doctors on Coverage — Physicians’ Views on a New Public Insurance Option and Medicare Expansion

Doctors on Coverage — Physicians’ Views on a New Public Insurance Option and Medicare Expansion
By Salomeh Keyhani, M.D., M.P.H., and Alex Federman, M.D., M.P.H. | NEJM

In the past few months, a key point of contention in the health care reform debate has been whether a public health insurance option should be included in the final legislation. Although polls have shown that 52 to 69% of Americans support such an option,1 the views of physicians are unclear. Physicians are critical stakeholders in health care reform and have been influential in shaping health policy throughout the history of organized medicine in the United States.2

The voices of physicians in the current debate have emanated almost exclusively from national physicians’ groups and societies. Like any special-interest group, these organizations claim to represent their members (and often nonmembers as well). The result is a well-established understanding of the interests of physicians’ societies but little, if any, understanding of views among physicians in general. Read more.

Corporate Corruption Killing America

Corporate Corruption Killing America
by Joel S. Hirschhorn | Media With Conscience

Anyone smart and strong enough to fight delusional thinking and who pays attention to current events should clearly see that corporate corruption of the US political system is so pervasive and powerful that there will be no genuine reform of both the health care and financial sectors.

I always believed that president Obama was just a different color corrupt politician who was subservient to the two-party plutocracy. His so-called reform efforts and ludicrous federal deficit spending should disappoint all his non-delusional supporters.

For health reform the only genuine and sensible reform legislation should have been not much more than a single sentence mandating that every American has a right to full Medicare coverage. Period. End of story. True reform. True universal health insurance.

Let the health insurance industry sell their garbage to those choosing it over Medicare and as supplemental insurance, as is done today, to cover what Medicare does not. The one major reason why the US spends more of its wealth on health care than any other nation, but with lousy results for the population as a whole is that so many Americans and their employers buy costly private health insurance. Some things essential for human survival require government programs, like police and fire protection. The overwhelming opinion of those in Medicare is very positive. In fact it is far more positive than those using private health insurance.

But the health insurance industry and others have successfully corrupted Congress and brainwashed much of the population to fear true reforms. Sure, Congress will pass some legislation that Obama will sign and they all will claim victory. But the nation will not get true reforms and health care spending will continue to rise and bankrupt the nation. Read more.

Real ‘Norma Rae’ Dead Of Cancer After BattleWith Health Insurer

Real ‘Norma Rae’ dead of cancer after battle with health insurer
By Daniel Tencer | PuppetGov

Insurers’ delays are ‘almost ... like murder,’ Sutton said.

The woman whose life inspired the 1979 film Norma Rae has died of cancer after struggling with her health insurance company, which had delayed her treatment.

Crystal Lee Sutton was 68. She had struggled for several years with meningioma, a form of brain cancer.

She became a hero to the labor movement in the 1970s, when she took on her employer, a North Carolina textile plant, and unionized the factory floor. Her story became famous nationwide in 1975 after New York Times reporter Hank Leiferman wrote Crystal Lee: A Woman of Inheritance.

In 1979, her story was turned into the movie Norma Rae, a thinly-veiled fictional adaptation of Sutton’s struggle to unionize the J.P. Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Sally Field won an Oscar for her portrayal of the character inspired by Sutton.

As Daily Kos blogger hissyspit points out, last year Sutton gave an interview to the press where she described a struggle with her health insurer over treatment. The Times-News in Burlington, North Carolina, wrote in 2008:

[Sutton] went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn’t cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said. Read more.

Shareholders Urged NOT To Protest Genocide

Shareholders urged NOT to protest genocide
By Catherine Danielson

Here's a story I doubt you will hear all about anywhere else...

American Funds is one of the largest families of investment funds ($700 billion), owned by Capital Group Companies, a huge group of investment management companies. There was a shareholder proposal made recently requesting the board to "institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egrigious violations of human rights."

I'm a shareholder in American Funds, so I received the proxy letter requiring me to vote on a number of proposals for the upcoming board meeting (on October 27th in LA). First, there was a list of very boring-sounding proposals about electing trustees, updating this, approving that, blah blah blah. The shareholder proposal request came LAST, and it was #8. What came FIRST was this:

Obama Brings Guantánamo And Rendition To Bagram (And Not The Geneva Conventions)

Obama Brings Guantánamo And Rendition To Bagram (And Not The Geneva Conventions)
By Andy Worthington | | September 14, 2009

Following briefings by Obama administration officials (who declined to be identified), both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported yesterday that the government is planning to introduce a new review system for the 600 or so prisoners held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, which will, for the first time, allow them to call witnesses in their defense.

On paper, this appears to be an improvement on existing conditions at the prison, but a close inspection of the officials’ statement reveals that the proposed plans actually do very little to tackle the Bush administration’s wayward innovations regarding the detention of prisoners in wartime, and, moreover, the officials also provided the shocking news that prisoners are currently being rendered to Bagram from other countries.

Reform at Bagram is certainly needed. Until 2007, there was, as the Post explained, “no formal process to review prisoner status,” and, as District Court Judge John D. Bates noted in April, the system that was then put in place — consisting of Unlawful Enemy Combatant Review Boards — “falls well short of what the Supreme Court found inadequate at Guantánamo” (in Boumediene v. Bush, the June 2008 ruling granting the prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights), being both “inadequate” and “more error-prone” than the notoriously inadequate and error-prone system of Combatant Status Review Tribunals that was established at Guantánamo to review the prisoners’ cases.

Revealing the chronic deficiencies of the review system at Bagram, Judge Bates quoted from a government declaration which stated that the UECRBs at Bagram do not even allow the prisoners to have a “personal representative” from the military in place of a lawyer (as at Guantánamo), and that “Bagram detainees represent themselves,” and added, with a palpable sense of incredulity:

Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what evidence the United States relies upon to justify an “enemy combatant” designation — so they lack a meaningful opportunity to rebut that evidence. [The government’s] far-reaching and ever-changing definition of enemy combatant, coupled with the uncertain evidentiary standards, further undercut the reliability of the UECRB review. And, unlike the CSRT process [which was followed by annual review boards], Bagram detainees receive no review beyond the UECRB itself. Read more.

Cheney and Rumsfeld's 'Close Friend' Throws Out Suit Against Alleged Abu Ghraib Torturers

Cheney and Rumsfeld's 'Close Friend' Throws Out Suit Against Alleged Abu Ghraib Torturers
By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

On September 11, the US appeals court for the District of Columbia announced in a 2-1 decision that it was throwing out a lawsuit against CACI International and L-3 Communications Titan unit, which are being sued by Iraqi civilians for their alleged role in the torture and abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. The companies provided interrogators at the prison at the height of the abuses there. The suit alleges that employees of the companies conspired with U.S. Army reservist Charles Graner, who was convicted of prisoner abuse on January 14, 2005 and is currently serving 10 years at Fort Leavenworth, and others to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Several of the plaintiffs are Iraqis whose torture was depicted in graphic photos revealed over the past several years.

The judge who wrote the majority opinion, Laurence H. Silberman, said: “During wartime, where a private service contractor is integrated into combatant activities over which the military retains command authority, a tort claim arising out of the contractor’s engagement in such activities shall be preempted.”

The decision was swiftly celebrated by the private security industry. “The court’s decision today is an important step toward resolving all legal matters regarding the company’s mission and duties in Iraq,” Jody Brown, executive vice president for public relations at CACI, said in a statement. “We have said from day one that these lawsuits are completely without merit and designed to pursue a political agenda.” Read more.

Activists Demand that Torture Lawyer Resign

Activists Demand that Torture Lawyer Resign
By: Laury Kenton, Photographs by Elliot Stoller | Seattle Indymedia Center

On September 3rd, a dozen or so people demonstrated outside of the Seattle Federal Courthouse, calling for Bybee's impeachment. The action was sponsored by Washington For Impeachment, PDA, World Can't Wait, Backbone Campaign, Code Pink, and Eastside Fellowship of Reconciliation. The action was scheduled for 10:00-12:30 on a Thursday, so (not unexpectedly) the demonstrators were out numbered by Homeland Security forces. In addition to the usual courthouse security, there were 7 white vans parked near the entrance, each containing uniformed, armed guards. The Backbone Campaign brought a large paper mache statue of Justice. Others held signs showing pictures of Bybee's torture victims.

Although torture is illegal under both United States and international law, George W. Bush relied upon Jay Bybee and other lawyers to construct the legal grounds for allowing the president and his representatives to torture at will.

As an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, Bybee released memos that authorized torture under the guise of "enhanced interrogation techniques". These techniques were used at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places. Bybee's torture memos rejected the United Nations Convention Against Torture as too broad. He championed a new litmus test for torture -- the intentional infliction of permanent injury or death.

These memos redefined behavior such as threats of execution against detainees and their families, threats to rape a detainee's female relatives, beatings, and waterboarding as permissible behavior. A few months after submitting the torture memos, Bybee was given a lifetime appointment to one of the top judicial benches in the country.

The Bybee Torture Memo was written in August of 2002, but it was only revealed to the public on April 16, 2009, after years of litigation. Upon its release, the New York Times called on Congress to impeach federal judge Jay Bybee. In an editorial, the New York Times declared that Bybee was, "unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. " In a similar vein, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman has also asked, "Why should a suspected war criminal serve as a federal judge?"

Despite the many displays of public outrage, little has changed since Bybee's memos were exposed. In an April 25, 2009, Washington Post article, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) said: "If the Bush administration and Mr. Bybee had told the truth, he never would have been confirmed," and that "the decent and honorable thing for him to do would be to resign". Four days later, Senator Leahy sent a letter to Judge Jay S. Bybee inviting him to testify before the Judiciary Committee, however, Bybee did not have the necessary manners -- or decency -- to respond to the invitation. No federal judge has ever been impeached for conduct that took place before taking the bench. So far, the senate has been unwilling to break that precedent.

Immune to criticism, Bybee sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Open Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Mark Crispin Miller wrote:

Here's an open letter to Obama, from a rightist group including (along with the ambitious Sarah
Palin) members of the PNAC gang that pushed for the invasion of Iraq. Just as, in 1998, they
urged Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, then got their way with Bush & Co. (Dick Cheney being one
of them), they're now demanding that this president "fully resource the effort in Afghanistan."

They're pushing him like this because of rising public (and, therefore, congressional) opposition to the Bush war in Afghanistan. So who will win this time? Will they prevail again, despite the
vast catastrophe they brought down on Iraq (a nightmare that continues)? Or will it, somehow, be the rest of us? ("The rest of us" includes an ever-growing number of our troops.)

Whatever you can do to tell Obama that this war is an atrocious loser, do it loud and clear, and do it now.


Open Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Letter From Kabul: After The Election

Letter from Kabul: after the election
by Zaher Wahab | Oregon Live | Submitted by Michael Munk |

Editor's note: Lewis & Clark College professor Zaher Wahab is a native of Afghanistan who has been returning every year since 2002 to help rebuild the country's higher education system. Below, in a handwritten letter composed Thursday and edited for clarity, he describes life in Afghanistan following the Aug. 20 election. Read more of his experiences at his blog, called "Dispatches From Afghanistan."

Stop spending $5 billion per month on death and destruction.

Even though Kabul looks like a city under siege -- with thousands of heavily armed Afghan-NATO-ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces everywhere -- there is little to no security.

Two days ago, insurgents rocketed the city, killing a family of four, and a suicide bomber drove to the inner gate of the heavily protected Kabul military-civilian airport, killing and injuring several. There is fighting in the south, east, north and west of the country. Two-thirds of the country is considered unsafe by the U.N. and the Afghan Ministry of Interior. I have irregular Internet access and electricity at Kabul Education University. And we are told to keep a low profile and avoid crowds. I am not allowed, and would not consider, traveling to where I was born to see my mother -- about 100 miles on the main highway. I won't get out alive and would endanger the people I visit.

You heard about the bombing of the two tankers in Kunduz, in the north at 2:30 a.m. last Friday, killing at least 125 people, mostly civilians. And you probably read about the killing of Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi, and Stephen Farrell's abduction; Farrell, a correspondent for The New York Times, was rescued alive.

Afghans of all kinds are mad as hell, both at the insurgents and all the foreign troops, which they call the occupiers, who behave worse than the Red Army in the 1980s. Read more.


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