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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

Grayson: "Save Our Democracy" - Introduces 5 House Bills to Prevent Corporate Takeover of America

GRAYSON: "SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY" | Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America. His “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435) aims to stave off the threat of "corpocracy" arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale, and award government to the highest bidder.” Congressman Grayson said.

Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced, and what they aim to accomplish:

1) The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock In Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision To Kill Campaign Finance Reform

Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to kill campaign finance reform

Ten years ago, I walked from California to Washington, D.C. to help gather support for campaign finance reform. I used the novelty of my age (I was 90), to garner attention to the fact that our democracy, for which so many people have given their lives, is being subverted to the needs of wealthy interests, and that we must do something about it. I talked to thousands of people and gave hundreds of speeches and interviews, and, in every section of the nation, I was deeply moved by how heartsick Americans are by the current state of our politics.

Well, we got some reform bills passed, but things seem worse now than ever. Our good government reform groups are trying to staunch the flow of special-interest money into our political campaigns, but they are mostly whistling in a wind that has become a gale force of corrupting cash. Conditions are so bad that people now assume that nothing useful can pass Congress due to the vote-buying power of powerful financial interests. The health care reform debacle is but the most recent example.

The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for, and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. So now, thanks to this Court, corporations can fund their candidates without limits and they can run mudslinging campaigns against everyone else, right up to and including election day.

The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics. If we are to retain our democracy, we must go a new direction until a more reasonable Supreme Court is in place. I would propose a one-two punch of the following nature:

Sanders: Opposition to Bernanke Growing

Sanders: Opposition to Bernanke Growing | Press Release

The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.

WASHINGTON, January 20 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he senses growing opposition to a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

“I sense that many Democrats see the Massachusetts election as a wake-up call,” Sanders said. “There is a growing understanding that our economy is in severe distress, a greater appreciation that people are disgusted with the never-ending greed on Wall Street, and a better recognition that we need a new direction at the Fed.

“People do not want another term for the man whose major job as Fed chairman was to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system but instead was asleep at the switch,” he added. “I am confident that more and more senators understand that we need a new Fed and a new Wall Street and will oppose Bernanke’s confirmation.”

Sanders on December 5 placed a hold on Bernanke’s nomination. The term of the central bank chief, first appointed by President George W. Bush, runs out on January 31.

Dateline: Critical Conditon

You have health insurance coverage through your employer, so the health care debate isn't much of an issue for you, aside from the fact that you don't want to "pay for someone else's health insurance." Watch this program to see how health insurance companies determine your care.

McCain: Campaign Finance Reform Is Dead

McCain: Campaign Finance Reform Is Dead
Sen. Who Co-Wrote Finance Laws Not Surprised by Court Ruling Given "Skeptical, Sarcastic Comments" by Justices
By Michelle Levi | CBS


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Senator John McCain, who helped rewrite the nation's campaign finance laws, said Sunday that this week's Supreme Court ruling removing limits from corporate spending on political advertising means that campaign finance reform is dead.

"I don't think there's much that can be done," he told "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer.

McCain said he was not surprised by Court's decision: "I went over to observe the oral arguments," he said. "It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to it.

"I think that it was interesting that they have had no experience in the political arena," McCain said. "I was reminded of the story of Lyndon Johnson, when he was vice president, was told about President Kennedy's appointments of all these brilliant people, and he said, 'You know, I wish one of them had run for county sheriff.'"

The Republican senator noted that in prior Court hearing on the issue of campaign financing, Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor had taken a different position. "Both had significant political experience; Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia have none," he said.

"We are going to see now an inundation of special-interest money into political campaigns," McCain warned. "I think that diminishes the influence of average citizens."

Schieffer asked McCain if he thought the issue of campaign finance reform was "dead."

"Oh, I think so." He predicted a backlash would occur when people see the amounts of unfettered money, from corporations and unions, that will go into political campaigns. Read more.

Biden Says U.S. Will Appeal Judge's Ruling in Blackwater Trial

Biden Says U.S. Will Appeal Judge's Ruling in Blackwater Trial
In Baghdad, VP Says He Regrets Contractors' Killing of 17 Iraqi Civilians
By Rachel Martin | ABC News

Vice President Joe Biden today expressed personal regret over the 2007 shooting in which Blackwater guards working for the U.S. government in Baghdad, shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians, and he said the United States would appeal a recent court decision to dismiss the charges against the men implicated in the killings....

"There are American men and women in uniform that were sent home in body bags because of the anger and hatred this created," he said.

Five Blackwater guards were ultimately charged with manslaughter and a sixth pleaded guilty. But last month, a U.S. court dismissed the entire case on a technicality.

Speaking in Baghdad today, Biden said that was unacceptable.

"A dismissal, I want to make clear, is not an acquittal and today I'm announcing that the U.S. will appeal this decision," he said.

The shooting and the lawsuits it triggered have debilitated Blackwater to some extent. The company was kicked out of Iraq and had its license to work there revoked and now the company is operating under a new name -- Xe -- to try to wipe the slate clean and undo some of the public relations damage it has suffered.

The company still maintains that its employees acted lawfully that day, but Iraqi leaders call it a massacre. Read more.

Senator Russ Feingold: High Court Opens The Floodgates

High court opens the floodgates
By Russ Feingold | USA Today

Excerpts:

...With the court's decision, corporations will now be able to dip into their huge general treasuries to pay for independent advertising. With their enormous resources, corporations can now vastly outspend the candidates and other outside parties in almost any race....

When the Supreme Court ruled that the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that Sen. John McCain and I championed was constitutional, it noted that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was "firmly embedded in our law." Yet the court only a few years later has upended that prohibition....

A majority of the court ignored several time-honored principles that have served for the past two centuries to preserve the public's respect for and acceptance of its decisions. One is the concept of "judicial restraint," the idea that a court should decide a case on constitutional grounds only if absolutely necessary, and should rule as narrowly as possible. Here, the court did just the opposite — decided the constitutionality of all restrictions on corporate spending in connection with elections in an obscure case in which many far more narrow rulings were possible.

The court also ignored stare decisis, the historic respect for precedent... It's hard to imagine a bigger blow to stare decisis than the court's decision to strike down laws in over 20 states and a federal law that has been the cornerstone of the nation's campaign-finance system for 100 years.

Finally, the court ignored the longstanding practice of deciding a case only after lower courts have fully examined the facts. Here, because the broad constitutional questions considered by the Supreme Court were not raised in the court below, there was no factual record at all on which the court could base its legal conclusions. Read more.

Iraq War Was Illegal, Dutch Panel Rules

Iraq war was illegal, Dutch panel rules
Inquiry says conflict had no sound mandate in international law as it emerges UK denied key letter to seven-judge tribunal
By Afua Hirsch | Guardian.co.UK

The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade.

In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.

"The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy," the inquiry in the Hague concluded. "The military action had no sound mandate in international law."

In a further twist, it emerged that the UK government refused to disclose a key document requested by the Dutch panel.

The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende's eyes only, an inquiry official told the Guardian.

"It was a surprise for our committee when we discovered information about this letter," said Rob Sebes, a spokesman for the Dutch inquiry. "It was not sent with a normal procedure between countries – instead it was a personal message from Tony Blair to our prime minister Jan Peter Balkanende, and had to be returned and not stored in our archives. Read more.

Obama Calls SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Spending 'Devastating'

Obama Calls SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Spending 'Devastating'

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama used his weekly address to rail against Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending in political campaigns -- calling it a “devastating” and “powerful blow” striking at democracy that he intends to fight against.

“The United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence,” Obama said. “This ruling strikes at our democracy itself.” Read more.

"Granny D" Comments on Supreme Court's Decision Killing Campaign Finance Reform

January 21, 2010 statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock in response to the Supreme Court’s decision today to kill campaign finance reform

Ten years ago, I walked from California to Washington, D.C. to help gather support for campaign finance reform. I used the novelty of my age (I was 90), to garner attention to the fact that our democracy, for which so many people have given their lives, is being subverted to the needs of wealthy interests, and that we must do something about it. I talked to thousands of people and gave hundreds of speeches and interviews, and, in every section of the nation, I was deeply moved by how heartsick Americans are by the current state of our politics.

Well, we got some reform bills passed, but things seem worse now than ever. Our good government reform groups are trying to staunch the flow of special-interest money into our political campaigns, but they are mostly whistling in a wind that has become a gale force of corrupting cash. Conditions are so bad that people now assume that nothing useful can pass Congress due to the vote-buying power of powerful financial interests. The health care reform debacle is but the most recent example.

The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for, and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. So now, thanks to this Court, corporations can fund their candidates without limits and they can run mudslinging campaigns against everyone else, right up to and including election day.

Reports Dissect "Unprecedented" Spike in US Defense Spending

Reports Dissect "Unprecedented" Spike in US Defense Spending
Cite ambitious Pentagon goals, failed reforms, and weak priorities as causes

Since 1998 the Pentagon has spent more than $6.5 trillion. More than $2 trillion of this sum was above the levels set in 1998. But only half of the $2 trillion in added funds was for recent wars and military operations. Among other things, the surge in spending has allowed the Defense Department to re-inflate its workforce to Cold War levels. And almost all the expansion is contractor labor.

These are among the findings of two 18 January reports on the dynamics of recent defense spending from the Project on Defense Alternatives, a small think tank with offices in the Washington area and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to the reports, the boost in spending after 1998 is unmatched over a nearly 60-year period, edging out both the Reagan and the Kennedy-Johnson spending hikes. And the Obama administration, in a move likely to confound critics and supporters alike, plans to spend more on the Pentagon than any administration since 1948.

"The recent wars are only half the story," says author Carl Conetta, "And their high price tag raises as many questions as it answers." The report finds the recent wars to have cost $792,000 per deployed person per year, while the Vietnam war cost only $256,000 per person per year in today’s dollars.

Kucinich Denounces Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case

Kucinich Denounces Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case | Press Release

Washington D.C. (January 21, 2010) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement following the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

“Today’s decision will allow corporations to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates. It will increase the stranglehold corporations now have over politics. There is no more effective way to concentrate even more money and power in the hands of the wealthy.

“Already, Wall Street is thriving on government largesse while America struggles with rising unemployment and foreclosures; insurance companies are preventing meaningful health care reform; and fossil fuel companies are preventing meaningful climate change legislation. The foundations of our democracy are at serious risk.

“The five-man majority has overreached considerably. The five-man majority brought up this issue of its own volition and has now legislated from the bench. The Supreme Court’s actions and decision violates 100 years of precedent as well as the Constitutional prerogative given to Congress to legislate,” said Kucinich. “In his dissent, Justice Stevens somberly remarks, ‘The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.’ Congress can hardly ignore such a stark and foreboding comment.

“Now, it is incumbent upon Congress to act. We must reclaim the democratic process and protect the voice of American citizens. If we allow corporations, many of whom are owned by foreign interests, to exert the kind of influence allowed by today’s ruling, we will have, finally and completely, abandoned Lincoln’s government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people,’” said Kucinich.

Join the Movement! Amend Our Constitution: Money Isn't Speech, Corporations Aren't Persons

"We the corporations"

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government.

Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions. The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.

We Move to Amend.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.

Do it now!

A Constitutional Amendment For Public Campaign Financing: Now Is The Time

A Constitutional Amendment For Public Campaign Financing: Now Is The Time
By Bill Scher | Huffington Post

Excerpt: Now the conservative Supreme Court showed its hand, and shredded our campaign finance laws, leaving our democracy even more vulnerable to special interests.

What better time to raise the stakes.

Put a constitutional amendment on the floor of the House and Senate creating a public campaign finance system banning all private money.

Dare conservatives to side with more corporate influence in our campaigns and our policymaking.

Either conservatives buckle and the amendment is passed.

Or they block it, show their sympathies, and expose their attempts at co-opting the populist fervor to be phony.

There is no better time than now. Read more.

US Security Company Offers to Perform "High Threat Terminations" and to Confront "Worker Unrest" in Haiti

Monday 18 January 2010
by: Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about “looters.” After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed check-point outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).

Naomi Wolf: The End of America

If you haven't read the book, this will give you an overview.

Big Brother: Obama Calls for the Integration of State and Federal Military Forces

Big Brother: Obama Calls for the Integration of State and Federal Military Forces
Executive Order Seeks to "Synchronize and Integrate"
by Tom Burghardt | Global Research

In the wake of the Flight 253 provocation, over-hyped terrorism panics, and last year's Big Pharma and media-engineered hysteria over the H1N1 flu pandemic, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13528 on January 11.

Among other things, the Executive Order (EO) established a Council of Governors, an "advisory panel" chosen by the President that will rubber-stamp long-sought-after Pentagon contingency plans to seize control of state National Guard forces in the event of a "national emergency."

According to the White House press release, the ten member, bipartisan Council was created "to strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government and State Governments to protect our Nation against all types of hazards."

"When appointed" the announcement continues, "the Council will be reviewing such matters as involving the National Guard of the various States; homeland defense; civil support; synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."

Clearly designed to weaken the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which bars the use of the military for civilian law enforcement, EO 13528 is the latest in a series of maneuvers by previous administrations to wrest control of armed forces historically under the democratic control of elected state officials, and a modicum of public accountability.

One consequence of moves to "synchronize and integrate" state National Guard units with those of the Armed Forces would be to place them under the effective control of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), created in 2002 by Bushist legislators in both capitalist parties under the pretext of imperialism's endless "War on Terror." At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called USNORTHCOM's launch "the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946."

The real-world consequences of those changes weren't long in coming. Read more.

Alan Grayson Petitioning Against Looming Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision

Alan Grayson Petitioning Against Looming Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision
By Arthur Delaney | Huffington Post

In response to news that the Supreme Court will hold a special public session on Thursday, which some expect could bring a highly-anticipated campaign finance decision, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is circulating an online petition opposing the decision, which is expected to undo limits on corporate spending in federal campaigns.

Grayson said he would personally deliver the signatures to the court in the morning.

"We're trying something new -- usually the only petitions the Supreme Court sees are petitions for writ of certiorari," Grayson told HuffPost. Asked where he got the idea, he said, "It's in the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Progressive good-government groups worry that the Supreme Court seems poised to unleash a flood of corporate money into federal campaigns. The case stems from the Federal Election Commission's decision not to allow a conservative group called Citizens United to air ads for an anti-Hillary Clinton movie during the 2008 election season. The ads, the FEC reasoned, constituted unlawful corporate electioneering. The Supreme Court is questioning the constitutionality of the FEC's decision. Read more.

TomDispatch: William Astore, Going Rogue in Combat Boots


Tom writes: From TomDispatch this afternoon, a startling and provocative exploration of whether a military "stealth coup" is possible in America and ten things Americans can do to stop it -- retired Lieutenant Colonel William J. Astore's, "A Very American Coup, Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You" http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175193/

Historian and former professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, retired Lieutenant Colonel William J. Astore begins his latest TomDispatch post on whether the U.S. military could "go rogue with combat boots" with a futuristic scenario: "It’s September 2016, year 15 of America’s “Long War” against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing." Not only that, they are returning to face the tenth year of the Great Recession. What if, along with the 2016 version of the "tea-baggers," they take to the streets, our own version of the between-the-World-Wars German freikorps in formation, and a military man who led them in their wars in Central Asia sweeps to the presidency that year?

"Yes," writes Astore, "it can happen here. In some ways, it’s already happening. But the key question is: at this late date, how can it be stopped?" He offers ten steps that are needed to put a break on America's ongoing silent coup and the rise of the Pentagon.

He concludes, in part: "If our Great Recession continues, if decent jobs remain scarce, if the mainstream media continue to foster fear and hatred, if returning troops are disaffected and their leaders blame politicians for “not being tough enough,” if one or two more terrorist attacks succeed on U.S. soil, wouldn’t this country be well primed for a coup by any other name?

"Don’t expect a 'Seven Days in May' scenario. No American Caesar will return to Washington with his legions to decapitate governmental authority. Why not? Because he won’t have to."

A Very American Coup
Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You
By William J. Astore | TomDispatch.com

The wars in distant lands were always going to come home, but not this way.

It’s September 2016, year 15 of America’s “Long War” against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing.

Iraq is increasingly hostile to remaining occupation forces. Afghanistan is a riddle that remains unsolved: its army and police forces are untrustworthy, its government corrupt, and its tribal leaders unsympathetic to the vagaries of U.S. intervention. Since the Obama surge of 2010, a trillion more dollars have been devoted to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries in the vast shatter zone that is central Asia, without measurable returns; nothing, that is, except the prolongation of America’s Great Recession, now entering its tenth year without a sustained recovery in sight.

Disillusioned veterans are unable to find decent jobs in a crumbling economy. Scarred by the physical and psychological violence of war, fed up with the happy talk of duplicitous politicians who only speak of shared sacrifices, they begin to organize. Their motto: take America back. Read more.

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

It is clear that the most dangerous and sickening crimes being committed by the US government are being directed by the CIA. The CIA poses the biggest threat to US national security and the security of the planet. The US Constitution and international law must be used to ensure security and enforce justice.

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

Dear Mr. Panetta:

We are writing you to express our anger and dismay at the criminal and sadistic actions of the Central Intelligence Agency. There is overwhelming evidence that your organization and its front companies are guilty of the most supreme crimes against humanity. These include but are not limited to destabilizing and overthrowing elected governments, drug smuggling, child prostitution, and of course, orchestrating illegal wars of aggression. The latter was done under the pretext of eliminating a shadowy terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, which was in fact created by your own treasonous agency.

Perhaps the most sickening of the CIA's crimes is the systematic torture of human beings. Not only do you and your colleagues engage in this cowardly act, you attempt to cover up the crime through destruction of evidence and control of the media.

Obama: $33 B More for AfPak War, Only $1.3 B for Education

Michael Munk points out that while Obama is asking for $33 billion more dollars to expand the Af-Pak war, he's only asking for $1.3 billion dollars more for education. That's 96% more for war than for educating our kids, helping them build their futures. Is this the change we want? Is it any real change at all? Seems like same old, same old expansionist, military industrial complex at work: under-educated kids with limited future prospects are more susceptible to military service "opportunities."

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta Sergeant Blows The Whistle

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
By Scott Horton | Harper's Magazine

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.


When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.

Late in the evening on June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.

As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths “suicides.” In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. “I believe this was not an act of desperation,” he said, “but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners’ families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion. Read more.

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