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By Susan Harman I just spent the day sitting in a small, unadorned, military courtroom watching one of Bradley Manning's many, many pre-trial hearings, which will stretch out through October. We began the day, 20 of us from the Bradley Manning Support Network, CodePink, Veterans for Peace, and others, holding signs at the busy entrance to Ft. Meade, MD, a huge, sprawling, country club-like campus pretty far from anywhere. Jeff Patterson, of the Support Network, handed out black t-shirts that said "TRUTH," and we put them on over our clothes. After an hour trying to get cars in this military community to honk in support, we went through two searches: first the cars (even under the hood), and then our persons, to get into the courtroom. Each of the military guys was polite and pleasant, as if nothing unusual was going on, when in fact our democracy's on trial. The courtroom was filled with men in dark blue uniforms with gold epaulettes and medals all over their chests, as well as some in camouflage. The judge was a blonde woman in the usual black robe. And there was Bradley Manning, live, the hero of our times, in the trial of the century. As we all know, he is a very young, cherubic, slight private first class, and today he, too, was in dress blues. It's a serious understatement to say I was immensely moved to be so close to this brave man. To Bradley's left sat the military lawyer he chose yesterday after firing two others, who said not one word aloud, but only conferred occasionally with Bradley, head to head. To his right sat David Coombs, the ex-military lawyer specializing in courts martial. Since I had communicated frequently with him when all this began, trying to get him whatever help he needed to carry this case, I was very happy to finally meet him. The other person that caught my attention arrived late and was instantly recognizable by his bleached-blond hair. He was David House, Bradley's friend and the only person, aside from his lawyers and maybe family, who'd visited him in prison. The hearing today was a review of several defense motions to dismiss various parts of the charges, and the proceedings were frequently at a level of detail and repetition that was numbing. We all agreed afterwards that Coombs did a very good job, and that the three prosecutors, who tag-teamed each other, were unprepared and fumbled the ball several times. After several hours of haggling over the distinctions among "classified, sensitive, and intelligence" (which isn't even grammatical), Coombs finally was able to use the need to clarify differing motives as an excuse to give the fictitious example of a soldier eager to give intelligence—not to "the enemy" (whoever that is)—but to us, to America. That was as close as we came to acknowledging the camo-clad elephant in the courtroom, which was thoroughly obscured by the frame of this trial's legitimacy. The formality, the uniforms and shiny medals, the interminable minutes of dead silence waiting for the judge to enter the room after the many recesses, the arguments over dancing angels, all conspire to create the illusion of legitimacy, making any questioning of it all seem at best rude and at worst criminal. The elephant, of course, is that Manning acted on the moral imperative to report massive war crimes committed by our country. The wrong party is on trial. When I realized how down the rabbit hole we were, I began to cry; not in sadness for the boy who has already spent two years in prison, and may spend the rest of his life there, but in frustration at the juxtaposition of the accused and accuser. We in the audience maintained our respectful silence until the judge called a recess for the day, and then someone shouted, "Thank you Bradley, for speaking the truth!" Someone else also thanked him, and I asked, "When will the military be on trial for war crimes?" When, indeed.
By Jeff Kaye, FireDogLake
Many bloggers and the press have reposted Tarek Mehanna’s impassioned speech to the court as he was sentenced to 17-1/2 years for supposedly providing “material support” to terrorists. (See here, here, here, and especially the ACLU’s Nancy Murray’s widely quoted article at the Boston Globe here.) But few have commented on Mehanna’s charges that he was set up by an undercover agent to participate in a terrorist plot, and that he refused the agent’s overtures.
These are the relevant portions of Mehanna’s statement at his sentencing hearing (bold emphases added):
Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy“ way, as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard — and the government spent millions of tax dollars — to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell….
It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans” at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.
By Charles M. Young
With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to know where the real government of the United States is located, just check out one of the documents received by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in response to their Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Homeland Security relating to surveillance of the Occupy Movement. That document, from the Secret Service, dated September 17, 2011, the day the Occupy movement began on Wall Street, from the US Secret Service Intelligence Division, titled Prism Demonstrations Abstract, list the location as “Wall Street Bull” -- a reference to the bronze statue of a bull on Wall Street in front of the
New York Stock Exchange, and the “protectee” as “The United States Government.”
Panetta says NATO or a coalition of nations deciding to attack someone is by definition legal.
By Dave Lindorff
If a bunch of street toughs decided to gang up and beat the crap out of some guy in the neighborhood because they feared he might be planning to buy a gun to protect his family, I think we’d all agree that the police would be right to bust that crew and charge them with conspiracy to commit the crime of assault and battery. If they went forward with their plan and actually did attack the guy, injuring or killing him in the process, we’d also all agree they should all be charged with assault and battery, attempted murder, or even first-degree murder if he died.
By Douglas A. Berg
Nancy Goodman Brinker, a pioneer of “cause marketing”, founded Susan G. Komen For the Cure in 1982, reportedly as the fulfillment of a deathbed promise made to her sister, a victim of breast cancer. In 1994, Brinker founded In Your Corner, Inc., a for-profit company that markets health products and information. In 1998, Brinker sold In Your Corner to AstraZeneca, the third largest pesticide manufacturer in the world, primarily through Syngenta, a giant global agribusiness company it owns jointly with Novartis.
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court Wednesday to force the Obama administration to release legal and intelligence records related to the killing of three U.S. citizens in drone attacks in Yemen last year.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charged the Justice and Defense departments and the CIA with illegally failing to respond to requests made in October under the Freedom of Information Act. It cited public comments made by President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other officials in arguing that the government cannot credibly claim a secrecy defense.
“The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm [its] existence” when asked for information “in the service of real transparency and accountability.”
In addition to statements by Obama and Panetta, the lawsuit notes that “media reports about the targeted killing program routinely quote anonymous government officials describing details of the program.”
With no independent outside access to Pakistan’s tribal zones, the disconnect is near-absolute between those who charge the administration with unjustified killings and those in the administration who deny the allegations. On Dec. 2, a Pakistani lawyer backed by the British-based charity Reprieve notified Munter of plans to file murder charges in the deaths of Tariq Aziz, 16, and his cousin Waheed Rehman, 12, allegedly killed in an Oct. 31 drone strike on a vehicle in their home region of North Waziristan. According to Reprieve, its representatives had met with Tariq just days earlier in Islamabad to give him a camera to document drone deaths.
On Sunday night's 60 Minutes program, Scott Pelley opened an interview with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with the question, "How many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?" Surprised by the question, Panetta, who laughed heartily as if Pelley had just told him a really humorous knock-knock joke that tickled his funny bone, responded 'that's a good question. I have to stop and think about that." Panetta proceeded to answer "we're going after al Qaeda wherever they're at.... Clearly, we're confronting al Qaeda in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa...." In case you're wondering, yes, Panetta confirmed that US troops are in Pakistan.
Pelley's question could not have been more clear just as Panetta's answer was unequivocal. What neither Pelley nor Panetta, who received a law degree from Santa Clara University Law School, mentioned was that for the US to be 'engaged in a shooting war,' not to mention more shooting wars than he could recount, without congressional approval is not only unconstitutional but is a clear violation of the War Powers Act of 1973.
After the debacle in Vietnam, with the American people dispirited and exhausted from a bloody, divisive war, the 93rd Session of Congress recognized the need to restore its Constitutional authority to declare war and oversight on national security and foreign policy issues with adoption of the War Powers Act of 1973. The Act, which was also intent on improving accountability requirements for the Executive Branch, necessitated a congressional override of President's Nixon's veto.
Not that Awlaki was never charged with any crime.
From Washington Post:
Investigators initially focused on the wrong man, then had to pay him a nearly $6 million settlement. In 2008, they accused another man, Bruce E. Ivins, who killed himself before he could go to trial.
Now, in the latest twist, the government has argued against itself.
In documents deep in the files of a recently settled Florida lawsuit, Justice Department civil attorneys contradicted their own department’s conclusion that Ivins was unquestionably the anthrax killer. The lawyers said the type of anthrax in Ivins’s lab was “radically different” from the deadly anthrax. They cited several witnesses who said Ivins was innocent, and they suggested that a private laboratory in Ohio could have been involved in the attacks.
A well-researched report here: PDF.
19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.
U.S. Military Being Used Against U.S. Labor Unions -- This Would Be Used as Grounds for War on the U.S. If the U.S. Weren't the U.S.
For the first time, the British journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files will speak at events in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago about his work uncovering the stories of the prisoners there. See his recent piece: An Extraordinary Interview with Former Guantánamo Child Prisoner Mohammed El-Gharani.
Too late to contain killer flu science, say experts
Attempts to censor details of controversial influenza experiments that created a highly infectious form of bird-flu virus are unlikely to stop the information from leaking out, according to scientists familiar with the research.
The US Government has asked the editors of two scientific journals to refrain from publishing key parts of research on the H5N1 strain of bird-flu in order to prevent the information falling into the hands of terrorists intent on recreating the same flu strain for use as a bioweapon.
However, scientists yesterday condemned the move. Some said that the decision comes too late because the information has already been shared widely among flu researchers, while others argued that the move could obstruct attempts to find new vaccines and drugs against an infectious form of human H5N1 if it appeared naturally.
Professor Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, said that the research, which was funded by the US Government, should never have been done without first assessing the risks and benefits.
“The work posed risks that outweighed benefits and that were clearly foreseeable before the work was performed,” Professor Ebright said.
And then consider this from Francis Boyle:
Biological Weapons Convention Conference Issues Final Document
“The Conference emphasizes that States must take all necessary safety and security measures to protect human populations and the environment, including animals and plants, when carrying out destruction and/or diversion of agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention.”
This language from the Final Communiqué is truly bizarre. Under the terms of the BWC, those “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery” should not be there in the first in order to be “destroyed” or “diverted.” And where are they being “diverted”: to whom and by whom? The implications of this language is (1) that BWC contracting parties currently have “agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article 1 of the Convention” and (2) that they are diverting them somewhere, which is also prohibited by the BWC.
Of course you can read this language to apply only to non-BWC States. But there are 165 BWC States Parties and 12 signatories. The only militarily significant hold outs are in the Middle East, for well known reasons that I will not go into here.
19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.
Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?
By Shaukat Qadir
This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.
December 14, 2011 - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.
“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.