July 2013 Archives

"By finding Manning not guilty on this dangerous ['aiding the enemy'] charge (though guilty of espionage and theft), military judge colonel Denise Lind has pulled the US back from the precipice - for now. But that outcome does not alter the fact that such a charge was sought by prosecutors in the first place. -- James Ball

Millions worldwide regard Manning as a hero. We are outraged that Manning was found guilty for reporting widespread, horrific crimes. His action was honorable and correct, as opposed to the action of the U.S. government in committing, justifying and covering up crimes against a whole people.

Private Manning, after only a few months in Iraq in 2009, became so alarmed at the content of files he was reading, and at the response of his fellow soldiers who laughed at deaths of Iraqis, that he sought to raise an alarm, to spark a domestic debate on the role of military and foreign policy being carried out in our name.

The classified files, documents and videos that Bradley transmitted through WikiLeaks contain evidence of war crimes. He had gone to his chain of command and asked them to investigate the "Collateral Murder" video and other "war porn," but his superiors refused.

Bradley was right to blow the whistle on war crimes. We should follow his lead. During the time his sentence is being considered, we must make a concerted effort to make sure that hundreds of thousands see Collateral Murder, U.S. military footage of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 which killed 12 Iraqi civilians. 

Government prosecutors claim this is "propaganda;" Bradley thinks it must be used to show the truth.

application.jpg"I have rarely been as ashamed and disgusted as I was Saturday reading that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to the Russian minister of justice saying that the US would 'not seek the death penalty' in its espionage case against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that even if the US later brought added charges against Snowden after obtaining him, they would not include any death penalty, and vowing that if Snowden were handed over by Russia to the US, he would 'not be tortured.' -- Dave Lindorff

c/o Reuters, the U.S. intends to repatriate two detainees to Algeria.

The plan will be presented to Congress, where President Obama hopes lawmakers will ease transfer rules, a White House spokesman said. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has signed off on the legal security assurances mandated by National Defense Authorization Acts. The President requires no further congressional approval to transfer these two men. The procedure is in place. Charge or release the remaining prisoners, and shutter the hated prison camp for good. 

In related news, William K. Lietzau, the top Pentagon official dealing with detainees, has resigned.
968867_10152063112088508_1035234564_n.jpgYesterday, a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights was hailed as a timely debate on closing Guantanamo.

What the hearing did not address--at all--were the practical steps that could be taken to follow through on President Obama's renewed promise to shutter Guantanamo. And it was notable that no member of the Obama administration, which is largely responsible for developing a plan of action, testified at the hearing... 

We cannot change the situation by simply finding the right legal strategy.  Unless we challenge the entire criminal justice system and mass incarceration, there will be many more Trayvon Martins and a constant dread that one of our children might be next.  As long as we continue to uphold and defend a system designed to protect white privilege, property and personhood, and render black and brown people predators, criminals, illegals, and terrorists, we will continue to attend funerals and rallies; watch in stunned silence as another police officer or vigilante is acquitted after taking another young life; allow our government to kill civilians in our name; and inherit a society in which our prisons and jails become the largest, most diverse institutions in the country.

c/o Common Dreams:

"Artist and author Robert Shetterly--best known for his work depicting and sharing the stories of truth telling luminaries from throughout US history--has today released the most recent work in his Americans Who Tell the Truth series with this portrait of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Shetterly_Snowden-540px.jpgDescribing the 30-year-old Snowden as the "lemming that ran the other way," artist Shetterly--in an essay posted today--said it seemed that Snowden is "a tiny chunk of the vast, submerged NSA iceberg, a chunk that had chipped itself free and willed itself to drift in the opposite direction."

Shetterly chose Edward Snowden as part of his growing series focused on 'whistleblowers' - which includes, among others - Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War; Pfc. Bradley Manning, currently on trial for his leaks of material related to US foreign policy and the execution of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is serving a prison sentence for public discussion of the agency's torture program."

The free pass President Obama affords Trayvon Martin's assassin with the above sentiment must be countered with rejection of the untenable construct of "stand your ground" law.

Despite objections from criminals in high places like John Yoo (who argues that state-sanctioned murder policy is not a Federal matter), the Department of Justice has promised open investigation of the George Zimmerman case for violation of Trayvon's civil rights.

Talk is cheap and we won't hold our breaths for actual filing of charges against Zimmerman; the heavy burden of proof that his actions were motivated by race will be hard to reconcile with the deliberate suppression of that issue throughout the trial. And the President has already indicated that he sees such action unlikely, saying:

"these are issues of state and local government," and warning that the public should have "clear expectations."

"Stand your ground" law has everything to do with race. The U.S. justice system is anything but colorblind. Until racial disparity is factored into judicial deliberation, there can be no true justice.
Napolitano_Shotgun.jpgphoto c/o UCMeP

"To some degree, appointment of the former Homeland Security chief as UC President demonstrates the value that those in power see in keeping UC 'secure'. Hell, John Yoo, one of the chief architects of legalizing government torture, teaches in the law school... the UC system is no stranger to law enforcement. In fact, the two are horrifyingly connected. -- honestchung 

the "r" word

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Our reasons for presuming, profiling and acting are always deeply racialized, and the Zimmerman trial, in ignoring that, left those reasons unexplored and unrefuted...

UPDATE: Obama reinstates groping

A federal judge Thursday ordered the government to stop genital searches of Guantanamo Bay detainees who want to meet with their lawyers, concluding that the motivation for the searches is not to enhance security, but to deter the detainees' access to attorneys.

c/o SF Bay Guardian:
yoo war criminal.png

Former U.S. Department of Justice attorney John Yoo is no stranger to protests. He's responsible for drafting controversial memos under the Bush Administration to provide legal justification for torture, and as a result, anti-war activists have been following him around for years.

Turns out, Yoo also drafted legal opinions justifying the NSA's surveillance program. The attorney and law professor will be the San Francisco Republican Party's guest of honor tonight, at an event in North Beach.
Indict the Criminals Responsible for Vast Government Spying
Arrest and Prosecute Torture Architect John Yoo
Hands Off Edward Snowden

Wednesday July 10, 6 pm
Villa Taverna
27 Hotaling Place
San Francisco

 "A Conversation with Professor John Yoo" 

Deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, Yoo helped draft the Patriot Act and author the legal basis for the NSA 'PRISM' program.

World Can't Wait Joins with a large section of the U.S. population -- and billions worldwide -- in outrage at the unconstitutional, illegitimate surveillance of whole populations by the U.S. which has been covered up and lied about for years.

We Defend Edward Snowden for his courageous action in revealing vast, unlawful surveillance by the United States.

We Call on others to join us in opposing the U.S. government's plans to gain custody of him, to try and imprison him on espionage charges.
It is absurd that Snowden faces criminal charges from the U.S. government who has been caught red-handed breaking its own laws while it flaunts international law by the use of targeted killing and indefinite detention.
It is outrageous that this same government refuses to investigate, much less prosecute, those responsible for the crimes of aggressive war and torture while now carrying out an unjust prosecution against Bradley Manning for exposing these crimes.

As the San Francisco Republican Party celebrates war crimes, we will stand in solidarity with John KiriakouAaron SwartzJulian AssangeThomas DrakeColeen RowleyDaniel Ellsberg and all those willing to say NO! Not In Our Name! 

Prosecute those in U.S. government guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, NOT those who blow the whistle on these crimes.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images: apparatus used to force-feed hunger strikers, demonstration here


UPDATE: Justice Department Tells Court that Force-Feeding Guantánamo Hunger Strikers is "Maintaining the Status Quo"

The motion filed June 30th by prisoners' lawyers has been given added urgency by concerns that prison staff will force-feed the Muslim detainees during Ramadan - a period of day-time fasting in Islam which begins on July 8. 

"This crisis could end, if only President Obama would start transferring cleared people, as he has the power to do. But my clients have seen no action. They cannot take years of more uncertainty about their fate. If the Gitmo authorities intend to force-feed these people during the daytime in Ramadan, it will only add insult to injury. --  Guantanamo attorney and Reprieve Strategic Director Cori Crider

Judges give US Government 48 hours to respond

graphic c/o andyworthington.co.uk

"While pick-and-choose secrecy is serving Washington's top war-makers, the treatment of U.S. citizens is akin to the classic description of how to propagate mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit. -- 

Norman Solomon

Bradley Manning, a private who joined the Army to pay for college, sent to a Forward Operating Base outside Baghdad, is facing charges for which the U.S. government wants him in prison for life, and which could potentially lead to the death penalty. Preliminary hearings went on for many months, during which, last February, Bradley made a declaration taking responsibility for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. The prosecution will finish its case against him this week, charging, most seriously, that he "aided the enemy."

History is being made in this courtroom, but as is often the case in the proceedings of empire, on the surface, the proceedings are banal. The judge takes pains to point out Bradley's rights as accused, all the better to not be reversed in an appeal. The large team of prosecutors comes and goes with stacks of files, as if this is business as usual, and as if "justice" will be served. Each morning the lead prosecutor informs the judge of how many members of the media and the public are present. There is a lot of talk about the rights of the public, while the public is searched, told not to talk, and treated as the "enemy" we are.

Monday July 8, the defense will begin. Let this be a day where the prosecutor has to tell the judge that the media trailer is full; the public seats are all taken, and the overflow trailer is also full.  If you can't get to Ft. Meade, join in the conversation online; send donations; talk to everyone you know about this case, and why telling the truth should not be a crime.

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Events & Calendars

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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