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CIA interrogators threatened to kill the children of one detainee at the height of the Bush administration's war on terror and implied that another's mother would be sexually assaulted, newly declassified documents revealed Monday as the government launched a criminal investigation into the spy agency's "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane" practices.
At the same time, the Obama administration announced a new policy for future interrogations — under White House supervision.
With the release of the five-year-old CIA documents, the Justice Department began a probe into the spy agency's tactics, under the direction of a veteran prosecutor who has been looking into other aspects of the interrogations.
The documents released by the CIA's inspector general under a court order said interrogators went too far — even beyond what was authorized under Justice Department legal memos that have since been withdrawn and discredited. President Barack Obama has said questioners would not face charges if they followed the legal guidelines, but the newly released documents suggest some knew they were not.
"Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this (but) it has to be done," one unidentified CIA officer said in the report, predicting that interrogators would someday have to appear in court to answer for such tactics. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
You see, here's the thing. When you hear about the sick, twisted things that America's torturers have been doing, courtesy of President George W. Bush and Vice President Darth Cheney, you have to remember that the US military and the CIA were not really all that reliable when it came to picking up the real terrorists. In fact, their batting average was pretty lousy.
Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%
Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%
Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10
—Harper’s Index, September 2009
Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.
The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good. Read more.
Codex Alimentarius (CA) Threatens Human Health
By Stephen Lendman
At stake isn't consumer safety. It's protecting drug company profits by eliminating competition. It's about removing safe alternatives, natural therapies, and information about them. It's to empower drug giants and approve only their products for sale. It's to establish standards they alone write; to pave the way for mass-marketing of genetically modified foods and drugs. It's a stepping stone toward mandated harmful global Codex rules.
On its web site, CA (Latin for food code) says:
"The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) and WHO (World Health Organization) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations."
Whatever its founding purpose, CA is much different today because corporate interests control it - global pharmaceutical, food, and banking giants in league with complicit UN and government agencies to promote GMOs over healthy foods, and drugs over natural remedies by restricting or banning vitamin and dietary supplements, except ones they control. Organic food as well by irradiation and hidden synthetic additives or ingredients.
If CA's standards and guidelines are adopted, they'll establish binding global rules, effectively overriding sovereign national laws. GMO foods and drugs will proliferate. Labeling will be banned. Food and drug giants will decide what will and won't be sold. Governments will be prohibited from countermanding them. Everyone's health and well-being will be jeopardized.
By Linda Milazzo
The photo below was taken on Friday, August 21, 2009 in El Segundo, California, outside the office of Congresswoman Jane Harman (36th CD). It shows three adorable children wearing stickers with the word fascism below a supposed image of the President of the United States, fashioned as Batman's malevolent Joker:
All photos by Mike Chickey
William Hazlitt, the great 19th Century English essayist and defender of human freedom, said:
Abstract reason, unassisted by passion, is no match for power and prejudice, armed with force and cunning. The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
The first sentence points with precision to the health care message failures of President Obama and Congressional Democrats. The second sentence is one of the most eloquent statements of progressive morality ever written. It's worth repeating: "The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." The moral force of the former fuels the health care movement; the anti-reform effort is the latest refuge of the latter.
The ongoing struggle for democracy is the tale of the centuries-long conflict between these two antagonists. There are times when the hostilities appear to reach a mortal climax: Caesar crossing the Rubicon into Rome; the American Revolution; the bloody war over slavery. But I think the Love of Others and the Love of Power are immortals, at least in a human universe. The fight will never end.
The relative motivations of the health care combatants ought to offer evidence enough of the justness of reform. Those who seek universal care stand to gain better health for their neighbors and themselves. Opponents of reform seek to protect and grow the power of their vast economic empires. Who are you going to believe?
On the progressive side is the belief that we bear a deep responsibility for one another. We cannot call ourselves a civilized democracy if we secure our own health through the wholly unnecessary death of another. On the other side is Power, the entrenched insurance industry that's bribed its way to unmatched authority, that profits from death and misery, that has made a catastrophe of our physical and political well being. Read more.
Last night, the so-called "gang of six" -- three Republican and three Democratic senators on the Senate Finance Committee -- met by conference call and, according to Senator Max Baucus, the committee's chair, reaffirmed their commitment "toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill" (read: less coverage and no public insurance option). The Washington Post reports that the senators shared tales from their home states, where some have been besieged by protesters angry about a potential government takeover of the nation's health care system.
It's come down to these six senators. The House has reported a bill as has another Senate committee, but all eyes are fixed on Senate Finance -- and on these three Dems and three Republicans, in particular. But who, exactly, anointed these six to decide the fate of the nation's health care? Read more.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) acknowledged on Sunday that the claims he made two weeks ago -- that Democratic health care legislation would allow the government to "pull the plug on grandma" -- did not reflect the language of the bills.
In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," the Iowa Republican admitted that the current legislation being considered by Congress didn't include the infamous death panel provision that would allow the government to determine who should live or die.
"I know the Pelosi bill doesn't intend to do that," said Grassley. "It won't do that," he added later.
Grassley's admission concludes several weeks of speculation as to why the senator, one of three key Republicans negotiating a bipartisan health care bill, would latch on to the infamous myth. The White House insisted that it still wanted to work with Grassley even after he made his remarks. But on Capitol Hill and outside of government, Democrats were furious that the key GOP point person for a bipartisan bill was deploying such toxic rhetoric. Read more.
Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions
A long-awaited report on post-9/11 interrogation tactics will reveal harrowing new details about treatment of suspected terrorists.
By Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff | Newsweek Web Exclusive
A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be released next week reveals that CIA interrogators staged mock executions as part of the agency's post-9/11 program to detain and question terror suspects, NEWSWEEK has learned.
According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."
The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.
Before leaving office, Bush administration officials confirmed that Nashiri was one of three CIA detainees subjected to waterboarding. They also acknowledged that Nashiri was one of two Al Qaeda detainees whose detentions and interrogations were documented at length in CIA videotapes. But senior officials of the agency's undercover operations branch, the National Clandestine Service, ordered that the tapes be destroyed, an action that has been under investigation for more than a year by a federal prosecutor. Read more.
On Friday nearly 100 Latin America scholars and experts sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch urging HRW to speak up about human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime and to conduct its own investigation of these abuses. The letters' signers include Honduras experts Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, Latin America experts Eric Hershberg, John Womack, and Greg Grandin, and noted authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.
By Dave Lindorff
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Federal District Court Judge Fernando Gaitan of the Missouri Western District Court have at least two things in common: they are both appointees of President Ronald Reagan, and they both think it’s just fine for the US to execute innocent people. The same can be said for Judge C. Arlen Beam of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a recent dissent in a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling ordering a habeas hearing in federal court for South Carolina death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, a man slated to die after being convicted for the murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer, Scalia wrote, “This court has never held that the constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is `actually’ innocent.”
Administration Makes Progress on Resettling Detainees
By Peter Finn | Washington Post
The Obama administration has secured commitments from nearly a dozen countries willing to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay and is increasingly confident about its ability to transfer a large majority of the prisoners who have been cleared for release, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
Six European Union countries -- Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain -- have accepted or publicly agreed to take detainees. Four E.U. countries have privately told the administration that they are committed to resettling detainees, and five other E.U. nations are considering taking some, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
Two E.U. countries will soon send delegations to the U.S. military prison in Cuba to assess detainees held there.
The administration's progress in resettling the approximately 80 detainees cleared for release so far could ease the politics and logistics of moving terrorism suspects to American soil. Some lawmakers fiercely oppose bringing any detainees to the United States, but a substantially reduced detainee population could bolster the administration's effort to secure a prison location in this country. Read more.
Some 500 tons of donations of medical equipment which flooded the Strip after Israel’s military offensive ended on 18 January sits idle in warehouses. Few donors consulted the health ministry or aid agencies working in Gaza to find out what provisions were needed. According to the health ministry, 20 percent of the donated medications had expired. WHO said much of the equipment sent was old and unusable due to a lack of spare parts.
Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.
In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.
“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.
According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.
Q&A: "Punishment Has to Be Top Priority in U.S. Military"
Catherine Makino interviews Ann Wright, retired U.S. army colonel | IPSNews
Ann Wright is a former U.S. diplomat who served in the military for 29 years.
She was a deputy ambassador in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Mongolia and Micronesia. She is one of three U.S. diplomats who publicly resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.
She is currently in Japan speaking around the country about eradicating military violence against civilians, including sexual assault and rape by the military. Before she arrived in Japan she went to the Pacific island of Guam with a delegation.
Wright spoke to IPS on U.S. plans to build a military base in Guam, sexual assault by U.S. soldiers on Japanese women and girls and how groups in Japan work with their counterparts in the U.S. to stop this violence.
IPS: A U.S. military base in Guam could result in the redeployment of more than 35,000 people there. What did you say in Guam?
ANN WRIGHT: That our delegation is here in solidarity with the people of Guam in terms of the movement of 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa to Guam.
That the people of Japan, particularly the people on Okinawa, have been working very hard to remove some of the extensive military forces. Now, the U.S. military seem to be coming to this lovely island.
The Okinawans certainly understand that whenever the U.S. military lands somewhere, it leaves a very large footprint. They all know it very well, because much of their land is already occupied by the U.S. military.
In Guam they have been seeing their own lands being taken from them. Read more.
What is a Voting Bloc?
A voting bloc is a group of people who vote together in support of a specific issue or common concern.
Gain national single payer health care for all citizens. Demand that your elected officials support H.R. 676 & S.703 the national single payer health care reform bills. Read more.
Dem-GOP Split on Health Care Goes Beyond Public Option
Senate's No. 2 Republican Opposes Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating of Health Insurance
By Teddy Davis | ABCNews
If you were to listen to most coverage of the health-care debate, you would be excused for thinking that the public option is the only significant difference between the parties.
Republicans and Democrats are at loggerheads on a far broader set of issues.
The distance between the parties' leaders on health care was made clear on Tuesday when the No. 2 Republican in the Senate held a conference call with reporters.
Asked by ABC News about a package of insurance market reforms that have been endorsed not only by President Obama but also by the insurance industry, Sen. Jon Kyl came out against all three proposals.
In particular, the Arizona Republican signaled that he opposes requiring insurance companies nationwide to provide coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions; requiring them to charge everyone the same rate regardless of health status; and requiring all Americans to carry health insurance. Read more.
Health Care Wanted: Dead or Alive
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH | Tuesday, 18 August 2009
The masquerade is over! The "public option" is ... dead.
Health care reform is now a private option: WHICH FOR PROFIT INSURANCE COMPANY DO YOU WANT? You have to choose. And you have to pay. If you have a low income, under HR3200 government will subsidize the private insurance companies and you will still have to pay premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
The Administration plan requires that everyone must have health insurance, so it is delivering tens of millions of new "customers" to the insurance companies. Health care? Not really. Insurance care! Absolutely. Cost controls? No chance.
You will next hear talk about "co-ops." The truth is that insurance company campaign contributions have co-opted the public interest.
I need your help to spread the word and rally the nation around true healthcare reform which covers everyone and maintains fiscal integrity without breaking our nation's bank! Your contribution will empower our efforts to continue to fight for the single-payer, not-for-profit health care bill, HR676 "Medicare for All," which I co-authored with John Conyers...The bill now has 85 sponsors in the House.
The hotly-debated HR3200, the so-called "health care reform" bill, is nothing less than corporate welfare in the guise of social welfare and reform. It is a convoluted mess. The real debate which we should be having is not occurring.
Removing the "public option" from a public bill paid for by public money is not in the public interest. What is left is a "private option" paid for with public money. Why should public money be spent on a private option which does not guarantee 100% coverage nor have any cost controls? A true public option would provide 30% savings immediately which would then cover the 1/3rd of the population who presently have no healthcare.
Unfortunately, under HR3200, the Government is choosing winners and losers in the private sector; proposing to spend public funds on subsidizing insurance companies who make money not providing health care. This process will insure only one thing - the expansion of profits. Gone is the debate over cost. Read more.
Religious and Grassroots Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Military Base Talks with Colombia Bases
deal “presents enormous dangers for entire hemisphere”
For Immediate Release
Over one hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics today called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia,” a plan that has generated a swell of protest among Latin American countries, including Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.
“It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security,” the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, reported violations of the expiring base agreement with Ecuador, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for “contingency operations” in the region, and the painful history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“To broaden relationships with South America and value respect for human rights, the United States should not create a fortress in Colombia in concert with the region’s worst rights violators, the Colombian military,” the letter said.
“A fight, a fight . . .”
Oh Lord. From what depths did this story come? This was the power of the peace circle, pulling something out of me beyond any known zone of emotional safety.
There were five or six of us, in a small breakout group, challenging one another with the deepest puzzles of our lives. Most of the people in this classroom, at a high school on the West Side of Chicago, were either teachers or connected in some way to the city’s schools and young people, as social workers, counselors or community activists. One of the participants was a school security guard. I was on the edge of all this — a “peace journalist” (as I call myself), investigating the future of nonviolent conflict resolution, restorative justice and education itself.
I’ve been aware of the restorative justice movement here in Chicago for a number of years now — this movement that pushes justice into a new realm, beyond revenge, punishment and isolation, to the healing of broken relationships and the building of peace in schools, workplaces and communities. It is common sense itself, turning conflict into the opportunity to discover who we really are. What’s more, it’s cost-effective, which may be why our cash-strapped and desperate school systems are slowly, warily embracing the process.
But it’s not easy. We have to get to know each other and start figuring out how to work together as equals. And this is the point of the peace circle, the wheel that churns at the center of restorative justice and drives everything. How radical: We’re all equal, we all belong here, we are all invaluable to the whole that is slowly finding form. Read more.
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT WISCONSIN’S FORT MCCOY CLAIM FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND POSSE COMITATUS VIOLATIONS BY ARMY POLICE - “A VIRTUAL KIDNAPPING,” SAYS ATTORNEY...
For Immediate Release | August 18, 2009
Four peace activists who were arrested and jailed by Department of the Army Police at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin at an antiwar protest on August 9, are consulting with attorneys working for the Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild to explore possible legal responses to what they charge is their false imprisonment and various violations of posse comitatus laws that restrict the military from acting as civilian police.
The nonviolent protest occurred on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki as more than 50 participants of the “Walk for Peace” a three day thirty mile march calling for the end of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing home all National Guard troops and the abolition of nuclear weapons ended their journey at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Walk for Peace was sponsored by several regional and national organizations, including Nukewatch, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Madison Pledge of Resistance, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
Nine activists who carried their protest onto the base were issued citations for a federal petty offense requiring them to appear in court at a later date. Usually one charged with a minor offense and issued a citation is immediately released pending a later court appearance but in this case, military authorities released five of the nine but continued to detain Bonnie Urfer of Luck, Wisconsin, Alice Gerard of Grand Island, New York, Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa and Joy First of Madison, Wisconsin, explaining to them that they were going to be jailed because they had each been apprehended at previous protests at the Fort.
The President Exhibits Crazy Speech Patterns
By Cindy Sheehan | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Please join us on Martha's Vineyard from August 26th-30th to demonstrate to the world that there are still some people here in America who want peace no matter who's inhabits the Oval Office.
As I listened to clips of Obama's speech to the VFW on August 17th, 2009, I was wondering if his speechwriters were on vacation and they just recycled an old Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice speech.
While the so-called left is focused on the health care debacle and is allowing the so-called right to define the debate when it should be: Medicare for all, and all for Medicare; Obama and his neocon foreign policy team are preparing for a decades long, bloody foray in Af-Pak.
As Yael T. Abouhalkah, an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star, put it:
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will spend the early days of the August legislative recess wining and dining powerful corporate and political figures.
Pelosi will host a two-day “issues conference” for 170 elite guests, starting Friday at her multi-million dollar mansion in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood, Politico's John Bresnahan reports. “The following day, Pelosi will shepherd her guests to a Napa Valley winery with buildings designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry; the speaker and her husband, investor Paul Pelosi, own a nearby vineyard worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to her annual financial disclosure report,” he writes.
Bresnahan notes that the event is not a fundraiser, but a “donor maintenance” event, in which top contributors to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will be given the chance to rub elbows with leading Democratic Party insiders. These include top Obama adviser David Axelrod; Obama economic adviser Mark Zandi (who served as economic adviser to John McCain in the 2008 elections); media pundit and former Clinton adviser James Carville; Rep. George Miller of California, who chairs the Education and Labor Committee; Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey, of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
To receive an invitation to the event, it is enough to have donated $30,400 to the DCCC during the last election cycle, a figure that also happens to be the maximum allowable contribution to a national party committee. Read more.
The coffin of Britain's last World War I infantry veteran, Harry Patch, is carried away after his memorial service at Wells Cathedral in Wells, England, Thursday, August 6, 2009. As a mark of reconciliation, soldiers from Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany walked behind the hearse carrying the coffin as it was driven through Wells, where thousands of people lined the streets to watch the funeral procession of Patch, who died at age 111, and who was a veteran of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
On July 25, Harry Patch, the last British veteran of World War I, died, marking the passing of an entire generation of veterans of the so-called "war to end all wars." What was most remarkable about Patch’s experience is that he came to believe that what he and his fellow soldiers had done so proudly in their youth had been in vain. At a remembrance ceremony on November 11, 2007, Patch explained:
Today is not for me. It is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes. It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides."
Patch didn’t talk about the war for 80 years, but he came to believe the casualties were not justified.
I met someone from the German side and we both shared the same opinion: we fought, we finished and we were friends.
"It wasn't worth it."
Human Rights Watch: Iraqi Gays Tortured and Killed
Gay men in Iraq targeted in brutal campaign of torture and murder, human rights group says
By Kim Gamel, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews
Militiamen are torturing and killing gay Iraqi men with impunity in a systematic campaign that has spread from Baghdad to several other cities, a prominent human rights group said in a report.
Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to act urgently to stop the abuses, warning that so-called social cleansing poses a new threat to security even as other violence recedes.
The bodies of several gay men were found in Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City earlier this year with the Arabic words for "pervert" and "puppy" — considered derogatory terms for homosexuals in Iraq — written on their chests. Read more.