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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
Oakland, CA – On April 22, 2013, United States District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton from the Northern District of California has ruled against the Obama Administration’s secrecy around the multi-million dollar, U.S. taxpayer-funded Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) military training school, and has ordered that access to who trains and teaches at the school be restored. Human rights activists had taken the U.S. government to court over its refusal to release the information, and won.
Read the court ruling here: SOAW.org/judgment
SOA Watch compiled the names, course, rank, country of origin, and dates attended from 1946 to 2004 for every soldier and instructor at the School of the Americas, which was renamed to the Western Hemisphere Institute in 2001. After researchers exposed cases of known human rights abusers attending the WHINSEC (despite claims that the "new" school was committed to human rights), and shared this research with Congressional decision-makers, the Department of Defense (DOD) refused to disclose any future information about students or teachers at the WHINSEC.
In 2010 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ignored the public's right to know and determined that it is “in the national interest” to deny human rights organizations and the public access to any more information.
The school made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Hundreds of SOA alumni have been implicated in human rights abuses and the formation of death squads, 11 Latin American military dictators, including Manuel Noriega of Panama, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, General Rios Montt of Guatemala, attended the school. SOA graduates led the 2002 coup in Venezuela, and the 2009 coup in Honduras, and continue to be involved in repression campaigns in Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico.
“The decision by the court is victory for transparency and human rights, and against government secrecy,” said SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois.
The release of the names is essential for Congress to make decisions about foreign military training. After the upholding of the value of transparency, and the public's right to know, over the Obama Administration’s secrecy, human rights organizations will use this ruling to further expose the negative impact of the SOA/ WHINSEC in Latin America.
SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the SOA/WHINSEC through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. This November 22-24, SOA Watch will hold its annual vigil at the gates of the SOA in Fort Benning, Georgia. SOA Watch is working on a campaign to call attention to the continued human rights abuses associated with the SOA/ WHINSEC and demand that the school will be shut down.
By Dave Lindorff
The Boston Marathon bombing has already demonstrated the best and the worst of America for all the world to see.
Two scenes of terror this week, only one terrorism investigation: The Real Terrorists are the Corporate Execs Who’ve Bought the
By Dave Lindorff
The way I see it, we had two acts of terrorism in the US this week. The first took place at the end of the historic Boston Marathon, when two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three and seriously injuring dozens of runners and spectators. The second happened a couple days later in the town of West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant blew up, incinerating or otherwise killing at least 15, and injuring at least 150 people, and probably more as the search for the dead and the injured continues.
Manning's Co-Defendant is the Internet Itself Bradley Manning Update: How to Commit Espionage Without Trying!
By Dave Lindorff
If it wasn't clear up to now, it was made crystal clear last week. The co-defendent in the Bradley Manning trial is the Internet itself.
Manhattan DA espies financial fraud and indicts...a tiny Chinatown bank: Indicting the Wrong Target in the US Financial Capital
By Dave Lindorff
Note from TCBH: Manhattan island hosts the headquarters of four of the nation's five biggest "too-big-to-fail" banks: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, JP MorganChase, and Citi Group. US Attorney General Eric Holder has stated publicly in Congress that he has no intention of seeking criminal indictments of these banks or their top executives -- or even their middle-ranking executives for that matter -- despite the myriad frauds, scams and schemes they've all engaged in, like robo-signing mortgage documents and touting derivatives that they were privately calling "sh*t," all of which led to the crashing of the US and global economies.
NO CUTS! NO TAX INCREASES ON ORDINARY PEOPLE! Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats and Recover the Offshore Trillion$
By Dave Lindorff
I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.
Announcing: two screenings for The Last War Crime movie on Saturday, May 25th, 2013 at The Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA. Please submit this form to reserve your tickets.
Note that a radio station has turned down advertising for this film and stated that it was doing so for political reasons. A law suit is progressing. Learn more and hear the unacceptable ad here.
By Dave Lindorff
Willie James Sauls is unlikely to see the outside of a prison. Last fall a court in the state of Texas sentenced this 37-year-old man to 45 years in jail. His crime: he snatched the purse from an old woman.
On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas. It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.
I'll be there, joining in the people's response (http://ThePeoplesResponse.org) with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.
"The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape," the center's PR office says, "including trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush's longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency."
Does it, now? Is that what you recall? Bush the environmentalist?
Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury's claims for decades to come?
According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them. This is something to be proud of, we're told.
The Lie Bury's annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama. No blood is anywhere to be seen. The Lie Bury's website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war. "The Warrior Open," it explains, "is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in the Dallas area. The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror."
Now, I actually know of some soldiers wounded in what they call by that name who don't feel honored by Bush's golfing, just as millions of Iraqis living as refugees within or outside of the nation he destroyed find Bush's liberty to walk outdoors, much less golf for the glory of war, offensive. But none of them has a quarter-billion dollar "center" from which to spread the gospel of history as it actually happened -- as it happened to its losers, to those water-boarded, shot in the face, or otherwise liberated by Bush and his subordinates.
When Bush lied about excuses to start a war on Iraq -- as with everything else he did -- he did so incompetently. As a result, a majority of Americans in the most recent polls, still say he lied to start the war. But few grasp the lesson as it should be applied to wars launched by more competent liars. And memory of Bush's lies is fading, buried under forgetfulness, avoidance, misdirection, revisionism, a mythical "surge" success, and a radically inaccurate understanding of what our government did to Iraq.
I won't be attending the Lie Bury ceremony for vengeance, but in hopes of ridding our culture of the vengeance promoted by Bush. He based a foreign policy and a domestic stripping away of rights on the thirst for vengeance -- even if misdirected vengeance. We have a responsibility to establish that we will not support that approach going forward.
Bush himself is relevant only as his treatment can deter future crimes and abuses. No one should wish Bush or any other human being ill. In fact, we should strive to understand him, as it will help us understand others who behave as he has.
Bush, of course, knew what he was doing when he tried to launch a war while pretending a war would be his last resort, suggesting harebrained schemes to get the war going to Tony Blair. Bush knew the basic facts. He knew he was killing a lot of people for no good reason. He was not so much factually clueless as morally clueless.
For Bush, as for many other people, killing human beings in wars exists outside the realm of morality. Morality is the area of abortions, gay marriage, shop lifting, fornicating, or discriminating. Remember when Bush said that a singer's suggestion that he didn't care about black people was the worst moment in his presidency? Racism may be understood by Bush as a question of morality. Mass murder not so much. Bush's mother remarked that war deaths were not worthy of troubling her beautiful mind. Asked why he'd lied about Iraqi weapons, George W. Bush asked what difference it made. Well, 1.4 million dead bodies, but who's counting?
I won't be attending the Lie Bury because Bush's successor is an improvement. On the contrary, our failure to hold Bush accountable has predictably led to his successor being significantly worse in matters of abusing presidential power. And not just predictably, but predicted. When we used to demand Bush's impeachment, people would accuse us of disliking him or his political party. No, we'd say, if he isn't held accountable, future presidents will be worse, and it won't matter from which party they come.
I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them. I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Barack Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren't on the list. Bush's lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn't eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now. When Obama went to war in Libya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government.
When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could. Obama -- despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers -- does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open. Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy. Imprisonment without trial is "law." Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it. Murder is, however, the new torture. The CIA calls it "cleaner." I picture Bush's recent paintings of himself washing off whatever filth his mind is aware he carries.
Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered. We don't know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist. We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election. Think about that. We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people. That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said "it's more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check," or who said "impeachment would be traumatic" -- as if this isn't.
In Guatemala a prosecutor has charged a former dictator with genocide, remarking, "It's sending the most important message of the rule of law -- that nobody is above the law." It's not so many years ago that the United States had the decency at least to hypocritically propose that standard to the world. Now, we advance the standard of lawlessness, of "looking forward, not backward."
That's why the people need to respond to the lie bury. Ann Wright is going to be there. And Diane Wilson. Robert Jensen and Ray McGovern are coming. So are Lon Burnam and Bill McElvaney and Debra Sweet. Hadi Jawad and Leah Bolger and Marjorie Cohn and Kathy Kelly are coming. As are Coleen Rowley and Bill Moyer and Jacob David George and Medea Benjamin and Chas Jacquier and Drums Not Guns.
Also coming will be many familiar faces from the days when we used to protest in Crawford. When we'd go into that one restaurant at the intersection in Crawford, there'd be a cardboard cut-out Dubya standing there. We picked him up and stood him in the corner, facing the corner. We said he needed to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong. In reality, of course, he was cardboard. The lesson was for everyone else in the restaurant. It's a lesson that still needs to be taught.
By Dan DeWalt
Corporate America just received the confirmation that they've been waiting for.
By Dave Lindorff
Thanks to the courageous action of Private Bradley Manning, the young soldier who has been held for over two years by the US military on trumped-up charges including espionage and aiding the enemy, we now have solid evidence that the country’s two leading news organizations, the Washington Post and the New York Times, are not interesting in serious reporting critical of the government.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.
The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.
By Dan DeWalt
‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’
-- Richard M. Nixon
By Alfredo Lopez
In the madness of our media-fed consciousness, the greatest threat to an informative news story is time. Given enough time, and the dysfunctional and disinformative way the mainstream media cover news, even the most important and revealing story quickly dies out.
That is, unless we who use alternative media keep that story alive.
By Dave Lindorff
It was clear from the outset when fired LAPD cop Chris Dorner began his campaign of terror against his former employer that the California law enforcement establishment, led by the LAPD itself, had no interest in Dorner surviving to face trial where he could continue to rat out the racist and corrupt underbelly of the one of the country’s biggest police departments.
By Dave Lindorff
Let’s not be too quick to dismiss the “ranting” of renegade LAPD officer Chris Dorner.
Dorner, a three-year police veteran and former Lieutenant in the US Navy who went rogue after being fired by the LAPD, has accused Los Angeles Police of systematically using excessive force, of corruption, of being racist, and of firing him for raising those issues through official channels.
By John Grant
In The New York Times February 6th on pages 20 and 21, across from each other, there were two tragic stories centered around the themes of sex, race and power. You might call them love stories, though they were definitely not Hallmark card or Harlequin romances.
Where I live in Virginia a member of the county board of supervisors was recently charged with the crime of "forcible sodomy," which carried a sentence of five years to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery and was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus probation, etc. He professed his innocence of the original charge.
But what is sexual battery if not forcible sex? The fine line drawn between 30 days and life may have less to do with the action being alleged than with the persuasiveness of the allegation, the prosecutor's confidence of winning a conviction, the schedule and budget of the court, the desire of the accuser or victim to participate in a trial, etc.
If the man was guilty, his penalty seems too light, the lack of a trial seems wrong, and some creative restorative justice seems in order. Little has been done to aid the victim or heal the community.
It is entirely possible that he was entirely innocent. People plead to 30-day sentences in our legal system to avoid a risk of life in prison (including the possibility of becoming a serial rape victim while in prison) all the time. Had the threat been five years rather than "five-years-to-life," an innocent man might have been more likely to risk a trial to declare his innocence.
If this man was innocent, his penalty is of course too great. Any penalty would be too great. And the lack of any charges against his false accuser would be a miscarriage of justice.
I have no way of knowing which direction our justice system misfired in this case. I know only that it compromised, choosing to lessen the harm done, but aware of necessarily doing harm. And I can think of many ways the system might be improved.
At the same time, I'm aware that there are systems in the world immeasurably worse. There is no system that imprisons people at the rate the United States does, including largely for nonviolent and victimless crimes. But there are epidemics of rape, of gang rape, of rape and torture, of rape and murder. There are epidemics of rape in societies in which no man can be punished in any way, but in which a woman known to have been raped is herself punished, along with her family, along with her children -- children who grow up seeing only one path to an existence of reduced shame and humiliation: the path of becoming a soldier in the war that produced the epidemic of rape. And there are echoes of all of this in our own society.
Such horrific situations are described in Ann Jones' book, War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War. They lead her to an interesting conclusion:
"One stronghold of the battered women's movement -- in Maryland, if I remember rightly -- distributed T-shirts bearing the words WORLD PEACE BEGINS AT HOME. I believed it. Raise up children in peaceful homes free of violence, I thought, and they will make peace. But now, having spent the last many years in and around wars, I think the motto is painfully idealistic. The relationship it describes is reciprocal, but not fair. World peace may begin at home, but violence just as surely begins in war; and war does not end."
Jones documents the use of rape in war and its continuation after the announced end of wars, including its adoption by civilian men who did not participate in the war. The rapes that Jones describes are often viciously brutal and sometimes deadly. The physical injuries are severe and lasting, including the inability to sit or to walk, internal bleeding, miscarriages, and sexually transmitted diseases. And then there is the mental damage, the societal damage, and the economic damage.
Jones takes her readers to Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burmese refugees in Thailand, and Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Liberia was founded by former U.S. slaves who, Jones writes, brought to Africa "a few of America's worst features: elitism, discrimination, forced labor, religiosity, and a penchant for violence."* Liberia's modern history has been no happier. The World Health Organization in 2005 estimated that 90 percent of Liberian women had suffered physical or sexual violence and 75 percent had been raped.
Following war in the DRC, teachers, pastors, and fathers took up the practice of rape. The same pattern was found in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where horrors unknown or rare before war (civilian rape, child rape, gang rape) became normal. In the DRC, Jones observed a vicious cycle. Husbands abandon raped wives, sometimes departing the village out of shame; so raped wives without visible injuries try to conceal the rape from their husbands. Women are afraid to go outside for wood or water or to work in their fields (much as female U.S. soldiers in Iraq were so afraid of male U.S. soldiers that they would not venture outside to the bathrooms at night). With no crops to sell, women have no money, and their children cannot go to school without money to pay for it. Girls are also afraid to go to school where they may be raped. With nothing left, women and girls turn to prostitution while men turn to the military. A local famine develops, and women are afraid to make the trip to a hospital when ill; so people begin to die from diarrhea, pneumonia, or malaria. A study found 5.4 million "excess deaths" in the DRC between 1998 and 2007, 2.1 million of them after the war "ended."
Good news in war reporting is not always accurate. In 2007 (and right up to this moment with no let-up in sight) USians heard of a successful "surge" in Iraq. Iraqis saw increased civilian death and displacement, increased sectarian segregation, and a surging population of refugees. That war created what the United Nations High Commission for Refugees calls "the most significant displacement in the Middle East" since the Nakba. Iraq now confronts a situation in which millions of its citizens have fled and a million of its women are widows:
"There is more than one way to lose a husband. Illness, accident, assassination, murder, warfare. Rape is another. Many women lose their husbands to rape. How many thousands of Iraqi women and girls have been raped is impossible to know; but rape is commonplace. Of 4,516 cases of sexual violence in Iraq reported to UNHCR in Jordan, women were the victims in 4,233 cases; and for each reported case, there are countless others."
Iraqi men lost their houses, their land, their status, and their self respect. As refugee families in neighboring nations, Iraqis rely on women to make a living. One way in which men try to reassert their authority is domestic violence.
Jones didn't just visit war-torn areas. She brought there something that the U.S. and other western governments would never think to send. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail; and when all you spend money on is soldiers and missiles, you imagine those tools capable of things they are not suited to. Jones brought with her a different tool: photography lessons.
Jones gave women who had never seen a camera or a photograph, cameras and memory chips and lessons in using them. The women did not recoil in superstitious horror. They became artists, activists, and empowered members of communities that until that moment had treated women as objects to be owned.
"Prudence in Zokoguhe photographed a man beating his wife with a broom. Martine in Zokoguhe photographed a woman landing in the dirt face-first and the man who had thrown her to the ground. Jeanette in Koupela-Tenkodoko photographed a man beating his wife with a stick."
Change began swiftly.
"One woman reported that her husband, who had never before shared the proceeds from the family field, now proposed to give a little something to his photographer wife. Another reported that her husband, who had never before provided money for a sick child's medicine, rode his bike all the way to the health center to make sure that his photographer wife and child, who had gone ahead on foot, were being served by the pharmacy. Another told of her neighbor, an habitual wife beater, never deterred by others who tried to intervene. When she threatened to fetch her camera, he stopped hitting his wife and ran away."
Women showed their photographs in a public meeting. Never having spoken in public before, women took over the meeting. The village chief took their side and followed their lead. They began participating in writing laws to stop the violence in their village.
Jones collected her cameras to take them to another country, and by that time the women no longer needed them. But wouldn't it be nice if they could keep them? With a $1.3 trillion military budget in the United States alone, you'd think we could afford a few cameras that actually accomplish things that missiles and soldiers are falsely advertised as accomplishing. In fact, I don't just want to give women cameras. I want to give them websites.
Jones is an advocate for making women part of peace negotiations, part of government. Give women power and rights, and things will improve, Jones believes. And she's right, of course, up to a point. But the notion of "no justice, no peace" has to be reversed. Without peace we cannot build justice. We must end the wars. HOME VIOLENCE BEGINS IN WAR.
We must keep our priorities straight as critics soften their complaints with the pro-torture and pro-murder movie Zero Dark Thirty in part because it was made by a woman, and as a pro-war woman named Hillary Clinton positions herself to run for a presidential office that has been given single-handed power of life and death over great masses of human beings.
* Jones is wrong, I believe, that the first African-American settlers arrived in Africa in 1822, since a group sailed from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone in 1792 including slaves who had escaped to fight for the British, including a man formerly owned by George Washington.
(Reuters) - A former CIA station chief received a seven-year jail sentence on Friday for the kidnap of an Egyptian Muslim cleric during the U.S. government's "war on terror" waged by former president George W. Bush.
A Milan appeals court also handed down two six-year sentences to two American officials for the same crime, the first of so-called "extraordinary rendition" operations organised by the United States.
The cleric, an Egyptian imam known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. He was resident in Italy at the time of the abduction.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Many millions around the world are convinced they know imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from closely examining the ‘whodunit’ contentions surrounding his contentious conviction for the December 9, 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia policeman.
By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:
By Michael Uhl
Jonathan Schell‘s probing review of Nick Turse’s new book Kill Anything That Moves originated on Tom Dispatch and migrated to Salon, where it appeared under the head “Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought.”
By John Grant
Since gun control is such a hot topic, the elite think tank the Project For a New American Decade (PNAD) has come up with a modest proposal to add to the national conversation. We think it’s worth a try.
First, we do the obvious, most sensible things: we establish universal background checks and dignified mental health services for those who exhibit a need for it. The third leg of the current gun control imbroglio -- banning AR-15s -- is a bit trickier.
By Kourosh Zaibari
From the Bradley Manning Support Network
Only giving 112 days credit off any future prison sentence does little to keep the military from torturing any future soldiers awaiting controversial trials. Write Maj. General Horst, tell him the persecution of Bradley Manning is unnaceptable!
Judge Denise Lind. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley, Bradley Manning Support Network.
After two weeks of intense litigation by Bradley Manning's defense, and hearing how Quantico brig staff blatantly disregarded Navy Rules in their mistreatment of Bradley, military Judge Denise Lind acknowledged that Bradley was punished unlawfully before trial and she has awarded him 118 days sentencing credit.
For nine months in Quantico, VA, Bradley was held isolated in a 6x8 ft cell, and denied access to sunlight and meaningful exercise, conditions called "cruel, inhuman and degrading" by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. It was only after considerable public outcry and coordinated action that Bradley's conditions improved. The 112 days sentencing credit that Bradley has been awarded for being tortured is still vastly overshadowed by the outrageous 150 years in prison Bradley still faces.
Despite Bradley Manning's honorable intentions to blow the whistle on unpunished war crimes, torture and government corruption and the military's failure to show any harm done to the US as a result of his releases, Bradley is facing harsher prosecution (and persecution) than US soldiers who are guilty of murdering civilians in the Middle East. The extremely aggressive charges against him are no accident. They are intended to put a chill on military whistle-blowing. The man who set these charges? Maj. Gen. Karl Horst. Write to tell him that this persecution of an American patriot is unacceptable!
Maj. General Horst
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, FL
The hearing continues through Friday, January 11. Bradley Manning’s court-martial trial is scheduled to start March 6, 2013.
By John Grant
Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.
-- Mark Twain