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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
By Dave Lindorff
Most Americans are blissfully in the dark about it, but across the Atlantic in the UK, a commission reluctantly established by Prime Minister Gordon Brown under pressure from anti-war activists in Britain is beginning hearings into the actions and statements of British leaders that led to the country’s joining the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Even before testimony began in hearings that started yesterday, news began to leak out from documents obtained by the commission that the government of former PM Tony Blair had lied to Parliament and the public about the country’s involvement in war planning.
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper over the weekend published documents from British military leaders, including a memo from British special forces head Maj. Gen. Graeme Lamb, saying that he had been instructed to begin “working the war up since early 2002.”
At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.
The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater's involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so "compartmentalized" that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.
The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, "We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature." A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. "We don't have any contracts to do that work for us. We don't contract that kind of work out, period," the official said. "There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services."
The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency's director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. "This is a parallel operation to the CIA," said the source. "They are two separate beasts." Read more.
BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS PROTEST AT IRAQ INQUIRY
What: BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS PROTEST
When: IRAQ INQUIRY TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER 09.30 - 12.30
Where: QUEEN ELIZABETH II CONFERENCE CENTRE, SW1P 3EE (Near Parliament)
The first public hearings of the Iraq Inquiry begin on Tuesday 24 November and Stop the War has called a protest outside to demand that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are held to account for war crimes which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and 179 British troops.
Joining the protest will be representatives from Military Families Against the War, reminding the inquiry committee of the anger felt by many relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq.
Sir John Chilcot, the chairman of the inquiry, insists that it will not be a whitewash but the committee - the five members of which were all hand picked by Gordon Brown - looks like it was set up with exactly that purpose.
Leaked secret government reports that prove Tony Blair's serial lying throughout 2002, as he repeatedly denied there were any preparations for war, will make it difficult for the enquiry to deny that Parliament and the British public were mislead.
But the logical conclusion that Blair or anyone in his government should be indicted on the basis of such evidence has already been discounted by Chilcot, despite the majority of bereaved military families having already told his committee that this is the outcome they expect if war crimes are proven.
In the wake of Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that five Guantánamo prisoners — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — will face federal court trials in New York, and five others will face trials by Military Commission, much of the media has been consumed with the whining of opportunistic right-wing politicians, who persist in maintaining the same hysterical level of unfounded fearmongering that has skewed the debate on Guantánamo for most of the year.
As a result, far too little attention has been paid to the inadequacy of the Military Commissions as a venue for trying crimes related to terrorism, although there have been some notable exceptions. Both Glenn Greenwald and myself (in an article entitled, “The Logic of the 9/11 Trials, The Madness of the Military Commissions”) have written about it, and Lt. Col. David Frakt, who served as the military defense attorney for the released Afghan prisoner Mohammed Jawad, and for Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, who was convicted in a one-sided show trial last November, delivered a withering analysis of the Commissions’ failings in an email exchange with Marcy Wheeler on Firedoglake, and has also spoken to Truthout about his concerns. In an email to Marcy Wheeler, he explained:
I reject the government’s claim that the nature of the crime determines the forum (federal court or military commission). I believe it is largely political considerations that are the basis for these determinations. Basically, if there is a US Attorney who wants to try the case and they think they can prove it, they get priority and it goes to federal court. Clearly, there weren’t any federal prosecutors who wanted to touch the [Omar] Khadr case with a ten-foot pole. Who wants to be the first person to try a 15-year old child soldier as a war criminal in history? (Answer — the prosecutors at OMC [the Office of Military Commissions]). Read more.
Who Will Investigate CIA/RAND/APA Torture ‘Workshop’?
By Jeffrey Kaye | The Public Record
Back in May 2007, while researching the activities of the American Psychological Association (APA) in support of the U.S. government’s interrogation program, I came across evidence that the APA had engaged in a discussion of torture techniques during a workshop organized by APA and the RAND Corporation, “with generous funding from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”
The workshop was held at the Arlington, Virginia, headquarters of the privately-held but long linked-to-the-government RAND think tank. APA Director of Science Geoff Mumford acted as liaison to the CIA for the meeting. Susan Brandon, a key APA “Senior Scientist”, and former member of the Bush White House’s Office of Science & Technology Policy, helped organize the affair, along with psychologist Kirk Hubbard, who was then Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational Assessment Division of the CIA.
The workshop was titled the “Science of Deception: Integration of Practice and Theory”, and it discussed new ways to utilize drugs and sensory bombardment techniques to break down interrogatees. Those are signal techniques of psychological torture long utilized by the CIA and other intelligence agencies and military around the world.
According to the brief APA account:
Meeting at RAND headquarters in Arlington, VA, the workshop drew together approximately 40 individuals including research psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists who study various aspects of deception and representatives from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense with interests in intelligence operations. In addition, representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security were present...Following brief introductions and welcoming remarks… workshop participants divided into break-out groups to discuss thematic scenarios....Read more.
Murder at Guantanamo? The Strange Death of Mohammad Saleh al Hanashi
By Jeffrey Kaye | Truthout
With recent news reports centering on Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that some Guantanamo detainees would be prosecuted in federal court and revamped, albeit flawed military commissions, important stories from previous months related to the prison facility continue to sink ever deeper into the swamp of our collective amnesia.
One example is the death that occurred at Guantanamo last June of Yemeni prisoner Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al Hanashi. Al Hanashi's death was reported as an "apparent suicide," and about four weeks later, Mike Melia of
The Associated Press reported that Yemeni officials claimed Al Hanashi died of "asphyxiation." The article vaguely notes that self-strangulation may have been the cause of death.
While self-strangulation is rare, it is possible. However, news reports point out that the prisoner was kept under 24/7 observation (possibly on video) in the Guantanamo prison psychiatric ward. Furthermore, psychiatric
patients on this ward are said to be sedated. How could this "suicide" happen? The death is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which doesn't inspire trust, as recent revelations have shown it to be capable of some extremely bad behavior on some of its investigations.
But the suicide story has about worn out, as a November 15 Huffington Post article by journalist Naomi Wolf - who has followed the al Hanashi story - reports that Guantanamo spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt has confirmed that "the status of the investigation into Mr al-Hanashi's death ... is now a Naval criminal investigation - meaning that he is no longer considered a suicide but a victim of a murder or a negligent homicide." Read more.
U.S. soldier found guilty of abusing subordinates in Iraq
By Joe Sterling | CNN
A U.S. military court demoted and jailed a soldier for mistreating troops in Iraq, behavior discovered during the investigation of another soldier's suicide.
Sgt. Jarrett Taylor, 23, of Edmond, Oklahoma, was convicted at a special court martial at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, that ended on Friday, the military said.
He was found guilty of making false official statements and cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates. Read more.
Did Rumsfeld Tour KGB Torture Museum to Pick Up Useful Tips?
By Jonathan Schwarz | Tiny Revolution
Where has the CIA tortured people? ABC has just reported that one place was Lithuania:
The CIA built one of its secret European prisons inside an exclusive riding academy outside Vilnius, Lithuania, a current Lithuanian government official and a former U.S. intelligence official told ABC News this week. Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at a café, the CIA installed a concrete structure where it could use harsh tactics to interrogate up to eight suspected al-Qaeda terrorists at a time.
But here's the lighter side of the CIA-Lithuania torture story, which ABC didn't mention: Donald Rumsfeld visited Vilnius in 2005, where he took the time to tour the KGB torture museum there. Then the U.S. embassy in Vilnius released an "Open Letter to People of Lithuania" from Rumsfeld: Read more.
US Makes Debut Attendance at Hague War Crimes Court
By Aaron Gray-Block | Common Dreams
THE HAGUE - U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues Stephen Rapp made a debut appearance for the United States at the world's war crimes court Thursday and said the U.S. remained wary of politically driven prosecutions.
The United States is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, and Rapp's attendance at meetings this week and next is the clearest sign yet of Washington engaging with the court.
"Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred," he said.
Rapp said however that the United States was keen on "gaining a better understanding of the issues being considered and the workings of the court."
"The court itself has an interest in not being drawn into a political thicket that could threaten its perceived impartiality," he said.
Rapp's attendance comes after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in August it was a "great regret" the United States was not a full ICC signatory. Read more.
VIRUS in the VOTING MACHINES: Tainted Results in NY-23
By Nathan Barker | Gouverneur Times
The manufacturer of the machines, Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems is the same company that Dan Rather accused of causing over 50,000 votes to go uncounted in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida due to intentional oversight. Rather's report claimed that Sequoia was well aware of the issues but proceeded into the election utilizing an inferior product and told election workers and technicians to "ignore the problems.
The computerized voting machines used by many voters in the 23rd district had a computer virus - tainting the results, not just from those machines known to have been infected, but casting doubt on the accuracy of counts retrieved from any of the machines.
Cathleen Rogers, the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Hamilton County stated that they discovered a problem with their voting machines the week prior to the election and that the "virus" was fixed by a Technical Support representative from Dominion, the manufacturer. The Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems representative "reprogrammed" their machines in time for them to use in the Nov. 3rd Special Election. None of the machines (from the same manufacturer) used in the other counties within the 23rd district were looked at nor were they recertified after the "reprogramming" that occurred in Hamilton County.
Republican Commissioner Judith Peck refused to speculate on whether the code that governs the counts could have been tampered with. She indicated that "as far as I know, the machine in question was not functioning properly and was repaired" by the technician. Read more.
Witness Against Torture Responds to Obama’s Statement that Guantanamo Will Not Close by January 2010
Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
Witness Against Torture Responds to Obama’s Statement that Guantanamo
Will Not Close by January 2010.
Wednesday, November 18. President Barack Obama conceded today that
the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will not close within
the one year mandated by the Executive Order he signed on January 22,
2009. This is a disappointment but not a surprise.
For months, the administration has been sending signals that it
over-reached in its timetable. The given reasons for the delay are
likewise familiar: that the Bush administration left a legal mess,
requiring painstaking work to determine the ideal means for handling
the remaining detainees; that it has been hard to find countries to
admit detainees who cannot be resettled in their countries of origin
due to fears of ill-treatment; and that unanticipated domestic
resistance to Guantanamo’s closure, much of it fueled by
fear-mongering and partisan politics, has slowed the process. These
impediments, while real wrenches in the grinding wheels of policy,
cannot excuse the moral and constitutional disaster that Guantanamo's
continuing operation represents.
Since coming to office, the Obama administration has presented
Guantanamo as an administrative problem, a cause of embarrassment, and
a foreign policy liability. It has never faced Guantanamo for what it
truly is: a grave injustice which the United States is duty bound, by
the best of its traditions and basic standards of fairness and
decency, to immediately set right.
Lynne Stewart: Heroic Human Rights Lawyer Jailed
By Stephen Lendman
On November 20, New York Times writer Colin Moynihan broke the news headlining:
"Radical Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terrorist Is Jailed," then saying:
"Defiant to the end as she embraced supporters outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Lynne F. Stewart, the radical lawyer known for defending unpopular clients, surrendered on Thursday to begin serving her 28-month sentence for assisting terrorism."
Stewart did what all attorneys should, but few, in fact, do - observe the American Bar Association's Model Rules saying all lawyers are obligated to:
"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."
Also to practice law ethically, morally and responsibly to assure everyone is afforded due process and judicial fairness in American courts. Sadly and disturbingly, Stewart was denied what she did for others heroically, unselfishly, and proudly. More on that below.
Stewart (prison number 53504-054) is now jailed at:
EXCLUSIVE: CIA Secret 'Torture' Prison Found at Fancy Horseback Riding Academy
ABC News Finds the Location of a "Black Site" for Alleged Terrorists in Lithuania
By Brian Ross and Matthew Cole | ABC News
The CIA built one of its secret European prisons inside an exclusive riding academy outside Vilnius, Lithuania, a current Lithuanian government official and a former U.S. intelligence official told ABC News this week.
Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at a café, the CIA installed a concrete structure where it could use harsh tactics to interrogate up to eight suspected al-Qaeda terrorists at a time. A full report on the can be seen on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson tonight.
"The activities in that prison were illegal," said human rights researcher John Sifton. "They included various forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, forced standing, painful stress positions."
Lithuanian officials provided ABC News with the documents of what they called a CIA front company, Elite, LLC, which purchased the property and built the "black site" in 2004. Read more.
International Justice Group Takes Aim at Bush Officials
By Daphne Evitar | Washington Independent
The International Center for Transitional Justice usually focuses on bringing to light and holding perpetrators accountable for such heinous crimes as genocide, mass murder and systematic torture, often in far-off war-torn countries with dismal human rights records.
So it’s significant that today they’ve released a report calling on the United States to follow its legal obligation to prosecute the leaders in the U.S. government responsible for the “torture, cruel and inhuman treatment” of detainees during its own “war on terror.”
“Investigations and prosecutions should focus on the engineers of official policies that were the basis of illegal abuses, to send a clear signal that the absolute prohibition of torture and the ban on cruel and inhuman treatment will be respected by the United States,” the report said, adding that if the U.S. government fails to initiate prosecutions, then other countries will take up the cause. Italy, for example, recently convicted 23 Americans for their involvement in “extraordinary renditions.”
“Failing to hold accountable the architects and overseers of a policy of abuse undermines the U.S. justice system and the fundamental idea that law provides a check on power,” Alex Boraine, acting president of ICTJ, said in a statement today. “As we have seen in countless examples around the world, abuse of power by allowing torture and cruel treatment can tear down what the law and democracy have built.” Read more.
Afghan Lessons from the Iraq War
By Ray McGovern
You don’t have to go back 40 years to the Vietnam War to feel the sting of déjà vu. Returning to the Iraq War just three years ago will suffice.
Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates summed up the administration’s dilemma on Afghanistan in a single question: “How do we signal resolve and at the same time signal to the Afghans and the American people that this is not open-ended?”
It is the same question that policymakers and generals were grappling with three years ago with respect to Iraq. Let’s hope they learned the right lessons from that experience, but it’s doubtful since the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) has been no help in shedding light on what actually happened.
If you remember, President George W. Bush had been voicing lots of optimism about the Iraq War and Vice President Dick Cheney had claimed the enemy was “in its last throes.” But it was becoming increasingly clear by 2006 that sectarian violence was ripping Iraq apart, that the death toll of American troops was rising, and that U.S. defeat was looming.
But Bush and Cheney were hell-bent on preventing defeat from happening, at least on their watch. Nor did they want the neo-con dream of a U.S.-dominated Iraq to die.
However, many in Washington – especially in the military – recognized that the Bush/Cheney war couldn’t be open-ended and that hard decision would have to be made for a gradual withdrawal to begin.
Iraqis level allegations of abuse, rape at UK troops after pullout
British defense ministry says charges being investigated
By Paisley Dodds, Associated Press | Daily Star
raqi civilians who were detained by British troops during the US-led war have leveled some 33 allegations of rape and abuse against male and female soldiers, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Saturday.
The allegations come in the wake of the British withdrawal from Iraq this year. One man says he was raped by two British soldiers while another claims he was sexually humiliated by both male and female personnel. Others allege they were stripped naked and photographed in the same style as the notorious pictures at Abu Ghraib, where abuses of prisoners by US troops helped fuel anti-American sentiment.
British soldiers have faced a series of claims that they mistreated Iraqi civilians in southern Iraq during six years of combat operations. Last year, Britain settled a legal case involving the death of one Iraqi civilian, and the abuse of nine others, paying out nearly $5 million in compensation.
A public inquiry is still under way into the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa. He died in the custody of British troops following a raid on his hotel in the southern Iraq city of Basra in 2003 and suffered 93 separate injuries. Read more.
Meet Vince Bugliosi at this event:
David Swanson: "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union"
Los Angeles, CA
November 23, 2009
At St. Bede's Church in Mar Vista at 7:30 p.m.
3590 Grand View Blvd., LA 90066 (Mar Vista)
CODEPINK: Women for Peace
Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles
Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains
Winograd for Congress
CONTACT THE EVENT ORGANIZERS:
proctor at anet dot net
Winograd4congress at gmail dot com
Britain's first convicted war criminal said Monday that some of his fellow soldiers frequently beat Iraqi detainees.
Former Cpl. Donald Payne, who was jailed for a year in the death of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa and is now free, said that he had downplayed some of the abuses allegedly committed by his unit out of a sense of "misguided loyalty."
Mousa was held by British forces in the southern Iraq city of Basra and died of more than 96 separate injuries in 2003.
Payne's testimony at a public inquiry into Mousa's death comes in the wake of Britain's Ministry of Defense saying Saturday it was investigating 33 allegations of rape and abuse against British soldiers - male and female - who were stationed in Iraq. Read more.
~Chip's Note: Every once in a while, Tom over at Tom's Dispatch writes an intro to an article that is so well-researched and comprehensive that it's difficult to excerpt just a portion as a prelude to the published article. This is one of those times. Both Tom's introduction and Pratap Chatterjee's "Paying Off the Warlords, Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption" will provoke your outrage at the stark reality of the what is really happening in Afghanistan. Now, on to Tom's introduction.
There is much discussion in the media today about "corruption" in Hamid Karzai's Afghanistan, but remarkably little actual reporting about it. Just back from Kabul, TomDispatch regular Pratap Chatterjee, author of Halliburton's Army, helps to rectify that deficit. He offers a rare, news-making, eye-opening inside look at how that country's system of nepotism and corruption -- involving its old "warlords" from the days of the post-Soviet civil war and its new corporate "reconstruction" raiders -- actually works. His piece is an anatomy of the way the brother of the country's new vice president (and long-time warlord), Mohammed Fahim, is raking in tens of millions of dollars in diesel fuel contracts for an American-built power plant -- even though far cheaper methods of bringing electricity to the Afghan capital now exist.
"Every morning," Chatterjee begins, "dozens of trucks laden with diesel from Turkmenistan lumber out of the northern Afghan border town of Hairaton on a two-day trek across the Hindu Kush down to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Among the dozens of businesses dispatching these trucks are two extremely well connected companies -- Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid -- that helped to swell the election coffers of President Hamid Karzai as well as the family business of his running mate, the country's new vice president, warlord Mohammed Qasim Fahim."
He then follows the history of corruption and the path of the money -- both Afghan and American -- as he traces the business dealings of the Afghan elite, including figures connected to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and well-connected western "reconstruction" companies.
He concludes: "This week, Mohammed Qasim Fahim will be sworn in as the next vice-president of the new government of Afghanistan. Under an agreement with USAID, this new government is required to spend Afghan money to buy yet more diesel for the [U.S.-built] Tarakhil power plant, which in turn will put money exclusively and directly into the vice president's brother's pocket."
From TomDispatch today, a rare, carefully reported, follow-the-money piece from Afghanistan that reveals the corruption and nepotism at the highest levels of the Afghan government -- Pratap Chatterjee, "Paying Off the Warlords, Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption." This is a devastating look at how Afghaniscam actually works. Read more.
By David Swanson
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the corporate "mainstream" media make quite a pair. We're hearing a very "balanced" debate over whether KSM should be tried in New York City, and whether the most insane objections to that proposal are really insane or not. But what are we not hearing?
We're not hearing that trying criminals for the crime of 9-11 ought to have been what we did years ago, rather than waging wars in response to a crime. We're not discussing the possibility that had alleged 9-11 criminals been tried years ago rather than being imprisoned and tortured together with hundreds of innocents depicted as subhuman monsters, the "war on terror" might have been replaced with simply the wars on Iraqis and Afghans and Pakistanis. What effect might that have had on Americans' willingness to surrender their Bill of Rights? We aren't hearing about that.
[Names like Meyer and Manning will be familiar to readers of the Downing Street Memos, but where's Dearlove?]
MI6 chiefs to give evidence to Iraq inquiry
Past and present heads of the Secret Intelligence Service to be questioned by Sir John Chilcot's investigation into war
Past and present chiefs of MI6 are to be among the first witnesses to give evidence to the official inquiry into the Iraq war, it was disclosed today.
Sir John Scarlett, who retired as director general of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) last month, will be questioned about his chairmanship of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).
During that time, between 2001 and 2004, he oversaw the government's dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. Supreme Court does not need to hear the appeal of former Gov. Don Siegelman because prosecutors adequately proved at trial that he exchanged an official act for a political donation, according to written arguments filed late Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Siegelman and co-defendant HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in August asked the justices to take up their case because they believe it raises broader legal questions about how much evidence is needed to prove bribery.
They argue that the donations Scrushy made to Siegelman's lottery fund and Siegelman's subsequent appointment of Scrushy to a state health board were normal political transactions, not criminal. And they contend that government prosecutors never proved there was an explicit agreement to exchange the appointment for the $500,000 in donations.
But the solicitor general of the U.S., responding Friday on behalf of the prosecution team, said case law allows the jurors to infer, even from circumstantial evidence, that there was an agreement to exchange the money for the official action. Read more.
John Allen Muhammad, Death Penalty and the Gulf War Syndrome
By William Hughes
“Let’s call it [the death penalty] by its real name...and recognize it for what it is--vengeance!” - Albert Camus
The state of Virginia, on Nov. 10, 2009, at 9:11 P.M., executed by lethal injection the Washington area sniper, John Allen Muhammad, aka John Allen Williams. The deed was carried out at the death chamber, at the Greensville Correctional Center, in Jarratt, just south of Richmond. Muhammad was convicted of killing Dean Howell Meyers, who was refueling his car in Manassas, VA, on Oct. 7, 2002. The Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, rejected Muhammad’s lawyers’ plea to commute the sentence to life imprisonment. On his killing spree, which inspired widespread fear and panic, Muhammad left nine other innocent dead victims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. His motive for his shooting rampage, committed at random, went to the grave with him.
There wasn’t anything the Commonwealth of Virginia could do to bring back the victims of Muhammad’s murderous onslaught. As far as his execution being a deterrent to other would-be killers, the record shows that such an argument doesn’t hold any water. And, if the state truly believed in its deterrent argument, then why didn’t it put Muhammad’s execution on television?
One sign from anti-death penalty protesters outside the prison read: “We remember the victims, but not with more killing.”
By David Swanson
My dear Republicans friends, it's probably not my place to ask. I'm not one of you, but I'm not your enemy either. I'm not an apologist for the other party or a third party. I'm an advocate for replacing the two parties with three branches. We still teach our children about the three branches of our government, but I'm afraid most adults have forgotten what that was supposed to mean.
Like you, I'd like us to be able to unelect people as well as elect them in fair and verifiable elections. Like many of you, I oppose massive bailouts for Wall Street, bipartisan gerrymandering, corporate control of government, warrantless spying, ballot access restrictions, budget deficits, lying politicians, and the so-called mainstream media.
Larry Johnson wrote: (For the next week or so, I will be running a guest blog by Gerri Haynes, a former president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Gerri, a nurse from Kirkland, Wash., is in Gaza with 11 other people in an effort to help the people there and also to better understand the situation.)
This journey has been months in the planning and today we were able to cross into Gaza through the Erez checkpoint from Israel. We are a thankful group! The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and associated health care providers are giving us this week in service.
There are 12 of us. Six physicians will see patients in cardiology, maxillo-facial surgery, family practice/emergency medicine, neurosurgery, urology, and psychiatry. Our nurse/grief consultant will teach classes in grief and bereavement. Five of our delegation – a pastor, an attorney and three human rights professionals will talk with families and listen to people throughout the area – all in service to this land that is trying to recover from the war of last winter.
WPSR made a first journey to Gaza in 1993. Here, we met Dr. Eyad El Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Dr. Sarraj has published important articles and papers on the health situation in Gaza, the mental health of the population, the effects of war and living as a refugee on children and critiques of the political situation in his country.
In 1993, entry to Gaza was accomplished through a small checkpoint. At that time, Israel physically occupied Gaza. There were Israeli guard towers visible at frequent intervals and Israeli soldiers appeared on every street. Now, there is an imposing warehouse-like checkpoint building on the Israel side of the crossing. Security is tight.
We applied for permission to enter Gaza several months in advance of today’s crossing and were assisted by an Israeli lieutenant in gaining that permission. Israel no longer physically occupies Gaza – the settlements were vacated and destroyed by Israel in 2005 – but remote occupation continues. By various means, Israel controls all movement at the borders of Gaza. There is no free movement of goods or services and complete closure of the Gaza Strip is a constant threat. Join in Gerri's day-by-day account of her Gaza experience; it's recommended reading by Ann Wright.