DfnWRI3UEAEcCQf.jpgThe rapidly growing number of children forcibly separated from their migrant families under U.S. "zero tolerance" border crossing policy includes 1,469 children imprisoned in an old Walmart outside of Brownsville, Texas. The Trump/Pence administration has begun moving them to a tent city in the desert outside El Paso.

Photo of first thing children see entering Casa Padre> 

Targeted kidnapping of children by state agents is nothing short of torture, with potentially long-term consequences. American Academy of Pediatrics president Colleen Kraft says the toxic stress of separation from trusted caregivers or parents inflicts serious damage to children, especially those under 5 years old, disrupting brain development and raising levels of flight-or-fight hormones, and increasing the potential for future health problems like chronic heart disease and substance abuse.

"Every great fascist catastrophe in history has seen a moment on the eve of the final calamity when it could have all been thwarted," writes Truthout columnist William Rivers Pitt. "This is that moment, right now, on Father's Day. Here, now, they must be stopped, or there will be no stopping them." 

Last week's unanimous vote against war with Iran was good news, largely ignored by the press. Many questioned the veracity of the story. It's up to us to substantiate Congressional admonition for peace with demonstrations of resistance to U.S. military intervention. Let's work to create the kind of political situation that forces an end to the Trump/Pence war on humanity. 

50554_2255459890_5654_n.jpgThe House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5515) revokes statutory authorization to go to war with Iran, reports Truthout contributor Marjorie Cohn. Passage represents an important move by Congress to reassert its authority to declare war. But it fails to address War Powers Resolution loopholes contained in the 1973 Act; the president can still launch an attack under ambiguous circumstances: "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces," or when there is "specific statutory authorization," like Trump's targeted killing rules for hunting suspected terrorists.

"Although the Ellison amendment states that no statute authorizes the use of U.S. armed forces in Iran, it does not prohibit the expenditure of money to attack Iran," adds Cohn. "Nor does it proscribe the use of sanctions against Iran (Journalist Fariba Pajooh testifies to the human cost here)."  We must remain vigilant against backdoors to war such policies provide, warns National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action director Jamal Abdi. 

"This amendment sends a powerful message that the American people and Members of Congress do not want a war with Iran. Today, Congress acted to reclaim its authority over the use of military force," said amendment author Keith Ellison in a press release. Whether the message from American people gets heard depends on you

UPDATE: Haspel Confirmed

merlin_137904927_0e01a2e2-20a8-4941-b196-42a0f570db68-jumbo.jpgThe Senate Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to support Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director Wednesday. Haspel's defense of torture practices she facilitated at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 -- that they were "legal" at the time -- disqualifies her from assuming the role of CIA director, argues professor emerita Marjorie Cohn. Failure to condemn the rescinded opinions of John Yoo invites a repetition of the brutality the professor authorized. Haspel provides little assurance that she wouldn't, like former vice president Dick Cheney says, "do it again."  

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture," the Convention Against Torture states unequivocally.

Cohn finds Haspel's moral compass "elusive." In her non-responsive replies to whether she would follow presidential orders, in particular to authorize waterboarding, the nominee channeled John Yoo's deflection on the subject of executive entitlement to crush the testicles of detainee children: "I do not believe the president would ask me to do that." 

Congress may elect to find torture "legal," but they can't make it moral. Shame on Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Warner of Virginia, and their approving constituency.

So much for the Democratic Party's commitment to human rights. 

It's Up to Us to Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime. And All Their Sponsors!  

The U.S. "War on Terror" has always been about persecuting Muslims, torture being the modus operandi of a cruel system of institutionalized Islamophobia. The nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency confirmed what we already knew: political impunity thrives in an authoritarian environment. And blaming the subjects of abuse endears you to white supremacists.

images.jpg"Torture haunts U.S. politics like a ghost... hidden, repressed, denied and lied about," says sociology professor Lisa Hajjar. Secrecy, unaccountability, and lies conspire to suppress public protest of its use. President Obama's aversion to prosecution of the officials responsible for ghastly crimes undermined the power of international law -- and enabled the resurrection of torture policy by Donald Trump. Obama's executive order ending the use of John Yoo-approved "enhanced interrogation techniques" failed to abandon the use of extraordinary rendition, whereby suspected terrorists were sent to black sites, including the notorious facility in Thailand ruled with depraved indifference to human life. 

"Because of U.S. exceptionalism, or the idea that we are a country without flaws, any deviation from our idealistic notions of who we are is treated as just that -- a deviation," writes Dr. Maha Hilal, Co-Director of Justice for Muslims. An estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the U.S. are "living in a climate of hostility," reports National Geographic, "their faith distorted by violent extremists on one end and an anti-Muslim movement on the other."    

Don't count on Congress to disqualify CIA director nominee Haspel for her role in the spy agency's torture program. Without sustained nonviolent protests in the streets, creating the kind of political situation in which Trump/Pence appointees are removed from power is met, "Bloody Gina" will be promoted next week with accolades for her "service." In the name of her victims, we say NO to torture and the system that employs its use.   

"The retreat of the US's most infamous white nationalist didn't happen on its own," charges Maximillian Alvarez, co-founder of the Ann Arbor chapter of the Campus Antifascist Network. "It didn't happen because people just ignored the imminent threat of 'alt-right' bile and fascist violence. And it didn't happen because administrators at Michigan State University somehow outsmarted all the white supremacists who showed up to East Lansing on March 5. It happened because, on that day, and for months prior, campus and community organizers resisted."

University administrators' entreaties to just "ignore" the Traditionalist Worker Party -- and hope for the best -- only emboldens the white supremacists and neo-fascists invading American college campuses, says Alvarez. The Michigan universities that chose to "play the sly card" with Spencer's demands endangered communities they're supposed to serve. And catalyzed the necessary response by collective grassroots groups who share commitments to "equality, justice and protecting thy neighbor."

"Perhaps it is because of the threat that these coalitions pose to the top-down administrative power structure at universities that many administrators are rushing to co-opt and pass off community organizing victories as their own," concludes the author, prodding campus communities "to provide for themselves what university and municipal authorities won't."

"If we understand and come to grips with the character of the problem we face, we can find and work on the solution," offers RefuseFascism.org. In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. 

As Friday the 13th -- the day Trump was expected to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein -- goes dark in DC, impeachment sponsors should not despair. There is more than one way to depose a despot.

"Impeachments take time: months, if not longer -- even with an enthusiastic Congress," notes Georgetown University's Rosa Brooks, weighing options to dump Trump. "And when you have a lunatic controlling the nuclear codes, even a few months seems like a perilously long time to wait. How long will it take before Trump decides that 'you're fired' is a phrase that should also apply to nuclear missiles? (Aimed, perhaps, at Mexico?)"

Whether today's US military strike on Syria was launched to distract attention from special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in Trump's election is a matter of speculation. But it effectively did just that -- for the moment.

Professor Brooks considers other possibilities for regime change; a favorable outcome to the November 2020 presidential election, should any semblance of democracy remain from the trials of intervening years. Or an appeal to Vice President Mike Pence's ambitions, should Trump cabinet members be inclined to oust their boss and replace him with his vice president. An even more unlikely projection: a military coup -- "or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders."

But she misses a fifth possible course of action, a move exemplified early into the Trump administration by acting attorney general Sally Yates: the refusal of millions of people across this country to follow his command.  

Yates cautions against accepting Trump's presidency as a new normal, saying it's up to the public to ensure that does not happen. "We can't control what President Trump does, but we can control how we respond to it. I get that's it's exhausting, the onslaught on a daily basis of things that are not normal," she said. "It's calling him out, it's making sure that we don't normalize it; we make sure that we plant a flag about who we are as a country and we hold on to that and make sure no one takes that away from us."

It's possible to imagine a new construct of American ethics, freed of the exploitation foundational to capitalist imperialism. To borrow from the new Call to Action by RefuseFascism.org:

Imagine tens of thousands beginning in several cities and towns, with marches, candlelight vigils, rallies - students, religious communities, immigrants, everyone with a heart for humanity in the streets and not backing down - growing from thousands to hundreds of thousands and eventually millions. Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want - in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime. The whole world will take heart. 

In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!
This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

pict0055-thumb-275x366-1504.jpgA California Law Review debate about the treatment of detainees during wartime will likely include discussion of the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp, where 800 years of Habeas Corpus law -- the right to know why you are being held captive by the State -- came undone.

The Symposium on Habeas Corpus in Wartime will take place at Berkeley Law in Booth Auditorium on April 6, 2018 from 9:00am to 4:00pm with a reception to follow. For speakers and event details, visit bit.ly/habeaswartime#HabeasWartime. 

Should constitutional law be applied to U.S. wars of aggression? What happens when you don't deal with the crime of indefinite detention? University of Texas panelist Stephen Vladeck advocates closing Gitmo (good) but he, and others, are prepared to subject "Forever Prisoners" to Obama-era Periodic Review Boards. True "closure" of the detention camp can only be accomplished with a determination to charge or release all inhabitants. 

"Closing Guantánamo the right way requires ending indefinite detention without charge or trial; transferring detainees who have been cleared for transfer; and trying detainees for whom there is evidence of wrongdoing in our federal criminal courts here in the U.S.," asserts the ACLU. "If a prosecutor cannot put together a case against a detainee, there is no reason that person should continue to be imprisoned."

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons," wrote Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky in The House of the Dead. The cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment -- torture -- inflicted on disfranchised subjects, from Pelican Bay in California to Bagram, Afghanistan, must not only end; the presumption of American immunity to international law must be repudiated. Dismantling of U.S. torture camps can't wait. And that is up to us.

United States of Denial

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stateofdenial.jpgFrom the American "foundational atrocity" of slavery to the ascendance of German Nazification in the 1930s, a refusal of collective responsibility hindered a national reckoning for state-sponsored terror. It also enabled the forced displacement of millions of "undesirables," a policy now embraced by President Trump, along with the hideous programs advocated by his new cabinet-designates: preemptive war and torture, both war crimes.

The impunity afforded Trump's coterie of badass advisors facilitates the normalization of reactionary policies that threaten humanity and imperil the earth itself, notes Michael Canavan at medium.com

What if we had seen CIA operators perp-walked, lawyers disbarred, generals forced into disgraced retirement? What if journalists who uncritically passed on sham intelligence found themselves unemployable? What if W. and Cheney actually couldn't visit Europe for fear of justice in the Hague? Would that have failed to turn the country towards repentance? Would that have shaken the endowed chairs of the war's most unashamed defenders? Would John Yoo be teaching at Berkeley?

"What year is it?!" exclaims Canavan, "how were these monsters [Gina Haspel and John Bolton] even in a position to show their faces in polite society, much less achieve high office?" Decades of US imperium demand the kind of public contrition and retribution manifest in massive, sustained resistance to illegitimate government.

The challenge has never been greater. The nightmare of a Fascist America must end. The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! 

graveyard.jpgThose who perpetrated the Iraq War are still at large, we are reminded by Attytood blogger Will Bunch. "The good people who made a few tiny mistakes back in those crazy post-9/11 times [haven't] turned over a new leaf."

How did America get to this state of amnesia?

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel allies say she has learned from her mistakes (torture of Cat's Eye detainees). George W. Bush's Iraq War cheerleader John Bolton insists he's not that guy anymore. The former president channels his "inner Rembrandt" to rehabilitate his image by painting portraits of military veterans. Barack Obama turned a blind-eye to prosecution for war crimes in the interest of partisan harmony.

A boundless faith in American exceptionalism--the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation that "loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law"--doesn't help to acknowledge the dearth of accountability for crimes of government in our name. Nor does the "collegiality among elites who all went to the same overpriced universities--people who could never acknowledge that the guy at the next table at the Capital Grille who looks just like them might have committed war crimes." 

The 20th century philosopher George Santayana wrote "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In this sense America truly is exceptional, concludes Bunch. We, in our time, cannot ignore the lessons of history. That which we will not resist and mobilize to stop, we will learn--or be forced--to accept.

We must not reassure ourselves that a form of radical authoritarian nationalism seen in 1930s Germany couldn't happen here. 

"The different strains of fascist demagogues and movements in this country see in Trump and Pence their 'last chance' to achieve their reactionary program," says the Call to Action by RefuseFascism.org. "They will not listen to facts or reason; they have already and will continue to change rules and manipulate elections, and they will not give up...

"We must confront the reality that the world as we have known it is being torn asunder. This requires getting out of our comfort zones and not allowing our differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to confront the danger of a Trump/Pence fascist America." Sign up here.

Few people have paid a professional price for involvement in America's torture program, notes Rogue Justice author Karen Greenberg. John Yoo, the author of the infamous 2002 memos declaring torture legal, remains a tenured professor at Berkeley. Steven Bradbury, who authorized "enhanced" interrogation techniques, now serves as General Counsel of the United States Department of Transportation. Disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales eventually landed a job as Dean of Belmont University College of Law, in Nashville, Tennessee, where he currently teaches Constitutional Law. Former Bush and Obama administrators found senior posts in business and academia (universities, think tanks, foundations, corporations, law firms) and serve to arbiter public opinion on the crimes of the Trump/Pence regime.  

gina-haspel-mgn.jpgThe President's selection of Haspel for CIA director "is a slap in the face to those who embrace the rule of law," says Greenberg. It "was not a casual gesture. It reveals a stubborn defiance of civilized norms about permissability of torture, and builds upon the indefensible secrecy that still surrounds the program." But it could prompt a public reckoning with the nominee's administration of one of the most notorious of the CIA's "black sites," in Thailand, known as Detention Site Green, where the most brutal interrogations of two suspected al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri took place. 

"Bloody Gina" also played a role in destroying videotaped evidence of what occurred at that site. Former CIA counterterrorism officer John Kiriakou recounts the torture: "They waterboarded Abu Zubaida 83 times. They later subjected him to sleep deprivation; they kept him locked in a large dog cage for weeks at a time; they locked him in a coffin-size box and, knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, put bugs in it with him."  

The confirmation hearings for Trump's CIA pick should prompt an examination and unequivocal repudiation of torture policies uncovered by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into the CIA's post-9/11 program of detention. "We must condemn the deceptions that have been visited upon the American people," says Greenberg. "Only when the details are made public will the country be able to accept responsibility for what happened, to declare it wrong, and in so doing to move forward -- decisively away from torture."

images.jpgIf confirmed as secretary of state, the former Kansas congressman "would become the first person to have served as both the United States' top spy and top diplomat," notes The New York Times reporter Scott Shane. "In the new job, Mr. Pompeo would no longer be constrained by the strictures of impartial intelligence analysis...

"He has not moderated his messaging at the CIA. Five months ago, he called Iran a 'despotic theocracy' and 'a pernicious empire that is expanding its power and influence across the Middle East.'" Dangerous words; Pompeo shares the President's disdain of the US nuclear agreement with Tehran, but Pompeo's attachment to torture (shared by the woman favored to inherit his job) is equally troubling to human rights defenders.

A commenter at The Northern Echo suggests "Mr. Trump... continues to dominate the international news agenda by stirring up fear, hatred and small-mindedness. The President appears hell bent on creating a world where all nations stoop to the most base behavior, where nothing is off limits, where no one upholds decency, human rights and the rule of law." 

Trump appears to have selected the ideal candidate to serve his nationalist vision. The opening for protest of this latest shuffling of the imperialist deck may prove brief; White House officials say the President indicated it was important to confirm the appointment before his possible high-stakes talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, was quick to urge opposition to promotion of the former CIA director and his deputy. "Those, like Mr. Pompeo, who have expressed Islamophobic views and have been associated with an anti-Muslim hate group, or like Ms. Haspel, who personally oversaw the torture of detainees, should have no role in our nation's government, let alone at the highest levels of policy-making," said National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "These appointments have the potential to harm our nation's image and our relations with key players in the international community."

"He was a very good shot," said Aaron Diener, co-member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship team supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation. "He had an AR-15 he talked about, and pistols he had shot... He would tell us, 'Oh, it was so fun to shoot this rifle' or 'It was so fun to shoot that.' It seemed almost therapeutic to him, the way he spoke about it." 

Cruz was wearing a shirt with the JROTC logo when he was arrested Wednesday. Facebook blogger Eric Sapp suggests a "thought experiment"

..consider what the response would be if he had worn or displayed a pro-ISIS emblem or if he had been a former member of a jihad-oriented militia. Obviously, in this hypothetical scenario, he would be labeled a "radical Islamic terrorist." So, IF that sort of ascription of motivation would be sensible, and given that a part of his inspiration was, it appears, in fact the U.S. military, should he not be described as a U.S. Army-inspired terrorist?

"Mental illness" is a dubious explanation for anything. "Militarism" however is very much a factor in the mass killing of children, whether committed by hateful loners wielding assault rifles or by Presidents wielding drones. 

It will take more than "thoughts and prayers" to reduce senseless gun violence. "We'll do that in church, but politicians must do their jobs," tweeted Richard Painter. But to really understand mass shootings in America, you can't just look at the question of guns; "you have to look more deeply at the character of the society that is shaping the people who are turning those guns on each other," writes a reader of Revolution Newspaper. We cannot, and should not, rely on gun control to solve the problem...

"What's needed--and what's possible--is a profound struggle to bring into being a society where the destructive social antagonisms between people are eliminated and in which there is an ethos of cooperation, of mutual recognition of people's humanity, an open-mindedness and curiosity proceeding from the world out."

In short, we need a revolution.

Human Rights First condemns President Trump's reported decision to sign an executive order to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

"Nobody, not even the 'Constitutional law professor' [Barack Obama] who committed the same crime [warrantless spying] for the 8 years before Trump, re-wrote the Fourth Amendment," writes David Swanson. "The powers of the imperial president to spy, imprison, torture, and murder increased under Bush, and under Obama, and under Trump. And if we survive Trump, that trend will continue."

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