Archive for category police state

Nakedness, Justice and Bradley Manning

Bradley ManningOn March 2, the U.S. military announced 22 more charges against Bradley Manning, the accused Army Private imprisoned in solitary confinement since May 2010.  One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy,” is potentially punishable with death.  This a most outrageous development, echoing the months of right-wingers screaming for his death. View the charges. Word comes that Brad is now held naked overnight, and forced to stand at attention that way.

The system holding him is nakedly unjust!

The charges themselves expose the extent to which the U.S. military is spread across the world is involved in actions with names like “Operation Hammer,” detailed in tens of thousands of reports stored in the internet.  I am not the first to point out the irony that the Obama administration offered praise — growing fainter by the day — to those protesting in streets in Egypt and Tunisia with outrage fueled by the very revelations Manning faces death for exposing.

These new charges only increase our anger at the treatment of Bradley Manning, as it grows clearer by the day how much blood is on the hands of those who accuse him.  The very same day charges were being signed, March 1, nine children were killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  As a high school student asked me yesterday, “why did they shoot and kill children?”  An apology was quickly issued by General David Petraeus, no doubt to quell protest in Afghanistan.  But these killings are part of a systematic pattern.  The Collateral Murder footage, which the Army specifically indicts Manning for leaking, “12 JUL 07 CZ ENGAGEMENT ZONE 30 GC Anyone.avi” is in reality, an indictment of U.S. rules of engagement and war-fighting.

Kathy Kelly, who goes to Afghanistan, wrote in Incalculable:

Families rely on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round. Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States. They’re not surging at us, or anywhere: they’re not insurgents. They’re not doing anything to threaten us. They are children, and children anywhere are like children everywhere: they’re children like our own.

An 11-min. German documentary, just translated to English, captures both the horror of Collateral Murder, and the injustice done towards Manning, through interviews with a friend of Manning, and anti-war activist and former CIA briefer Ray McGovern.  Ethan McCord, who  can be seen in the leaked video rescuing children wounded by the 2007 Apache helicopter operation, talks about that day, and his support of Manning.

Video Still

It’s important to recognize the escalation represented by these new charges against Manning.  Glenn Greenwald in Bradley Manning Could Face Death compares Manning to Daniel Ellsberg, 40 years ago.  Greenwald was interviewed on Democracy Now March 3:

The charge of aiding the enemy is really quite disturbing, because what that requires is passing information or disseminating intelligence to, quote-unquote, “the enemy.” And although the charging document doesn’t say who the enemy is here, it’s only two possibilities, both of which are disturbing. Either, number one, they mean WikiLeaks, which is accused of giving intelligence to or classified information to, which would mean the government now formally declares WikiLeaks to be, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” or, number two, and more likely, what it means is that by disseminating this information to WikiLeaks and other news organizations that ultimately published it, it enabled the Taliban and al-Qaeda to read this information and to access it, which would basically mean that any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban or help them but to expose wrongdoing, is now considered a capital offense and considered aiding and abetting the enemy, in that sense. And that’s an amazingly broad and expansive definition of what that offense would be…

it’s now been 10 months where, despite being convicted of absolutely nothing, he’s been held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement under the most repressive conditions, not being allowed to exercise in his cell. The one hour a day when he’s allowed out, he walks around shackled in a room by himself and is immediately returned to his cell when it stops. Although the commander of the brig was recently fired and replaced, those conditions have not changed. So they’ve gone on for 10 months. They’re likely to go on for many more months, because the court-martial proceeding is not likely to take place for at least another six months or so, while these proceedings work themselves out. And certainly, someone held under those conditions for that long is going to be seriously psychologically and physically deteriorated, perhaps irreparably so.

Democracy Now also reported newly abusive treatment of Manning:

New information has come to light about the prison conditions of accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning, who is being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. According to his lawyer, Manning was stripped of all his clothes on Wednesday and then forced to remain naked in his cell for seven hours. Manning’s clothes were returned only after he was forced to stand naked outside his cell during an inspection. Manning’s attorney described the treatment as inexcusable and an embarrassment to the military justice system. The incident occurred just hours after the military filed 22 additional charges against Manning for having allegedly illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military and U.S. Department of State documents that were then publicly released by WikiLeaks. One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy,” could carry a death sentence.

All of this argues for a large and determined protest on Sunday March 20, outside the brig at Quantico, VA where Manning is imprisoned.  Join us! From Courage to Resist:

Rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on March 20th! Supporters will gather for a 2pm rally at the town of Triangle (map: intersection of Main St. and Route 1), then march to the gates of the Quantico Marine Corps Base. Bradley has been held at the Quantico brig in solitary-like conditions for six months. We stand for truth, government transparency, and an end to our occupation wars… we stand with Bradley! Event endorsed by the Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, CodePink, and many others. Buses from Washington DC have been chartered for this event (departing Union Station at 12:30pm)–reserve your seats today for only $10 RT. The day before, on Saturday, March 19th, in Washington DC, we will be joining the noon rally at Lafayette Park and march on the White House to “Resist the War Machine!”

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Reactionary Attack on Civil Liberties Lawyers in al-Awlaki Suit

The courageous attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights who are challenging the government’s targeted killing order on Anwar al-Awlaki are getting criticism from right wing ideologues who backed the Bush regime’s war on terror for nine years now.

The Washington Legal Foundation published an ad in The New York Times yesterday, posted online today, and transcribed below.

The ACLU and CCR were retained by Nasser Al-Aulaqi to bring a lawsuit in connection with the government’s decision to authorize the targeted killing of his son, U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi, whom the CIA and Defense Department have targeted for death.  World Can’t Wait published our own ad on the subject, October 7 in The New York Times, from a completely different standpoint: Crimes are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them.

Pardiss Kebriaei, for CCR, spoke on October 20 on the al-Aulaqi case, and against yesterday on the WBAI radio program, “Law and Disorder.” She said yesterday,

“The sum and substance of the government’s arguments is that there should be no rule for the court at all in the question we presented… They have not got into the merits of why they believe they should have this authority.  They assert the US is involved in a global war against Al-Qaeda, by virtue of the war the US has the ability to target any suspect of Al-Qaeda.”

The Obama administration’s position is echoed by the far-right, in plain sight:

“In All Fairness”

Hijacking Our Courts for Terrorists

Earlier this year, U.S. national security officials authorized lethal action against Anwar al-Awlaki, a military Islamic cleric based in Yemen.
Al-Awlaki and his al Qaeda-affiliate group have been linked to the massacre at Fort Hood, the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing over Detroit, and the recent plot to blow up Chicago-bound cargo planes.  Remarkable, al-Awlaki’s formal designation as a “Global Terrorist”: not only made him a high-priority target, it also made him the recipient of the pro bono legal assistance of American activists in a federal court action.

This lawsuit, which requests an injunction preventing attacks on al-Awlaki, opens an alarming new front in the activist campaign to judicially impose a myopic view of “civil liberties” on U.S. anti-terror decisions.  Since 9/11, these ideologues have, with the help of our courts, secured criminal defendant rights for enemy combatants; invalidated parts of the USA Patriot Act; and forestalled invaluable surveillance activities.  As a result, those who work tirelessly to keep America safe have fewer tools with which to do their job.

Now, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the architects of al-Awlaki’s suit, are going one step further — they seek direct judicial involvement in military strategy.  Their suit argues that no U.S. operation can go after al-Awlaki unless officials prove he poses an imminent threat and that no means other than lethal force can reasonable neutralize the threat.

The unconventional war thrust upon American provided activists a long-awaited opportunity to advance their radical legal theories — previously relegated to scholarly journals — in court, where they can directly undermine national security.  For instance, suits like the one brought on behalf of al-Awlaki could severely curtail the use of unmanned Predator drones, leading to increased U.S. military and civilian casualties once courts force anti-terror operations to rely on more land assaults.  Additionally, successful civilian court challenges to the detainment of terror suspects can return enemy soldiers to the battlefield.  In fact, numerous former Guantanamo Bay detainees already populate the upper ranks of the Yemen-based al Qaeda group’s leadership.

America has reached a fork in the road, and the time has come for us to make a decisive choice.  We can treat terrorists like common criminals who are entitled to Miranda rights and criminal trials, providing them an unparalleled platform for propaganda,and a rich source of intelligence for the architects of future attacks.  Or we can be fully committed to ensuring the security of our nation by rejecting misguided legal campaigns and returning control over national and homeland security decisions to the executive and legislative branches.

With so little margin for error, can America afford to have the judiciary and agenda-driven lawyers deciding how to keep us safe from foreign terrorism?

The Washington Legal Foundation  wlf.org

This political attack should be answered.

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Obama Argues State Secrets to Protect Assassination Order

It was President Obama’s announcement that Anwar al-Awlaki was to be assasinated wherever he as found that move us to write and publish the Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them statement last May.

In August, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the ACLU filed suit against the order, for Nasser al-Awlaki, the targeted man’s father, who lives in Colorado.  Late Friday, the administration answered with a brief arguing, according to the Washington Post, that the case had to be dismissed because of “state secrets.”

UHHH…where have we heard that before?

Sign NOW!

Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them!

to be printed in the NY Times the week of October 3 to protest the 9th anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan.

Glenn Greenwald ripped into this today:

“Obama’s now asserting a power so radical — the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts — that it’s ”too harsh even for” one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation.  But that power is certainly not “too harsh” for the kind-hearted Constitutional scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified.  One other thing, as always:  vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!”

The Washington Post noted,

“The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office – in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of CIA prisoners. It prevailed in the last case last week, on a 6 to 5 vote by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU issued a statement saying

“The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy.

“In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check.”

People can be killed on the orders of a president with no trial, no sentence, no due process — not even an indictment?  I don’t want to live in any country that allows such actions.

Another reason to protest visibly and publicly.  Help get the protest statement into the New York Times the week of October 4, which begins the 10th year of the US occupation of Afghanistan.

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Victim of the War of Terror: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

Note: On February 4, Dr. Siddiqui was found guilty of all charges.  This was not justice.  See a piece by Petra Bartosiewicz who was in court for its duration.

The U.S. government’s case against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani who holds an advanced degree from MIT in neuroscience, will go to the jury Monday in federal court here in New York City.  I’ve been in the courtroom, and several times in the overflow room with dozens of supporters and reporters.

Dr. Aafiai Siddiqui

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in Afghan custody July 17, 2008

Even when we are only watching the trial through cameras in the overflow rooms, we are forced to give ID to enter, all to bolster the impression that Dr. Siddiqui is a dangerous terrorist, and that we are dangerous for caring what happens to her.  Everyone entering the courthouse goes through airport style security screening, but to go into her trial, one must be searched again.

Petra Bartosiewicz wrote for Time magazine in A Pakistani on Trial – With No Pakistani Reporters:

Although Siddiqui is not charged with any terrorism-related crime,security concerns are paramount though the procedures seem to be unevenly enforced. During the lunch break on the first day of the Siddiqui trial a group of Muslim men praying in the waiting areas outside the courtroom were afterwards asked to leave the floor. That prevented them from securing a place in line for the afternoon session. Several Muslim women in hijabs were also given similar instructions, but others in the same area, dressed in business attire, including this reporter, were permitted to stay. On the second day of the trial metal detectors were posted outside the courtroom and individuals were asked for photo identification and their names and addresses were logged by court security officers. At the close of proceedings on Thursday defense attorney Charles Swift protested the practice. “The suggestion is that the gallery may be a threat,” said Swift, calling the measure “highly prejudicial.”

Judge for yourself whether the New York Daily News, which calls Siddiqui “Lady al Queda” (absent any evidence produced at trial), or The Washington Post which headlines “Government: Let al-Qaida-linked scientist testify” is part of the prosecutor’s team.

Petra, who is writing a book on US terrorist prosecutions, has been in the trial every day, blogging and linked at CagePrisoners.com. Her article in November 2009 Harper’s The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear is a deeply researched piece going behind the US government’s public case against Siddiqui, and, more broadly, the existence of a network of secret detentions and prisons the US operates.  On Aafia Siddiqui:

When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent. According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.” Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens.

The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son. Various reports had her married to a high-level Al Qaeda operative, running diamonds out of Liberia for Osama bin Laden, and abetting the entry of terrorists into the United States. But those reports were countered by rumors that Siddiqui actually had spent the previous five years in the maw of the U.S. intelligence system—that she was a ghost prisoner, kidnapped by Pakistani spies, held in secret detention at a U.S. military prison, interrogated until she could provide no further intelligence, then spat back into the world in the manner most likely to render her story implausible. These dueling narratives of terrorist intrigue and imperial overreach were only further confounded when Siddiqui finally appeared before a judge in a Manhattan courtroom on August 5. Now, two weeks after her capture, she was bandaged and doubled over in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, because—somehow—she had been shot in the stomach by one of the very soldiers she stands accused of attempting to murder.

Dr. Siddiqui, whose brother Mohammed and many supporters are following the trial closely, is not on trial for terrorism charges, but for, as the government puts it, what happened in the “3 minutes” inside the Afghani police building on July 18, 2008.  She denied, on cross examination last week, picking up a gun, or shooting it.

From what I can observe, and have read, Dr. Siddiqui is deeply traumatized and has reason to be distrustful of the courts, the military, the FBI, who questioned her without introduction while she was in hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds.  She said, several times in court — and was removed for breaking the rule because she did so — that she was held in a secret prison, and her children were disappeared, and that she was tortured.

I saw reporters snicker at that.  Isn’t that a delusional idea, that a Pakistani could be held in a secret prison?  Remember George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well: “We do not torture.”  She must be crazy, and guilty, to assert such a thing.

Then comes this piece by Anand Gopal, reporting for The Nation this week, Obama’s Secret Prisons:

Sometime in the last few years, Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan’s rugged heartland began to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of the night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In the secretive U.S. detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families.

This process has become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The night raids and detentions, little known or understood outside of these Pashtun villages, are slowly turning Afghans against the very forces they greeted as liberators just a few years ago.

Andy Worthington reports on a new report from the United Nations, UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are the CIA Ghost Prisoners?”
concluding:

“While the report spreads its net wide, the US administration’s response to its findings about the Bush administration’s legacy of “disappeared” prisoners, and its focus on the gray areas of Obama’s current policies, is particularly anticipated. So far, however, there has been silence from US officials, and only the British, moaning about “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” claims, have so far dared to challenge their well-chronicled complicity in the secret detention policies underpinning the whole of the war on terror, which do not appear to have been thoroughly banished, one year after Barack Obama took office.”

How delusional are Dr. Siddiqui’s claims that she was tortured in a secret prison?

Dr. Siddiqui was found, disoriented, in Grazni Afghanistan, having disappeared from her home in Pakistan five years earlier.  No one has said where she was.  Pakistani human rights organizations, and some at the trial, have urged me to mention, and look into the disappearance of thousands of Pakistanis at the hands of the secret police, ISI, who are paid many millions by the US government to be part of the so-called “war on terror”.

These disappearances and deaths, this police state, are the responsibility of the US government, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, by funding, by political support and pressure to do the dirty work that amounts to the “war on terror” while the US chooses to say “we do not torture.”

But this is an administration which has dramatically the use of unmanned drones to target alleged “terrorists,” thereby killing hundreds of civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Yemen and Somalia.  A poll last year in Pakistan, by al Jazeera found only 9% of adults supporting the drone attacks, because of concerns that they are killing innocent civilians.

Sebastain Abbot in the Huffington Post:

“The U.S. government doesn’t even suggest what the proportion of innocent people to legitimate targets is,” said Michael Walzer, a renowned American scholar on the ethics of warfare. “It’s a moral mistake, but it’s a PR mistake as well.”

As part of this “war on terror”, the US prosecutors have produced no physical evidence that Dr. Siddiqui held or fired a gun on July 18, 2008.  As Dr Siddiqui said, “I walked towards the curtain. I was shot and I was shot again. I fainted.”

I don’t expect justice for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui this week.  Even if she were to be found not guilty on all charges — which the evidence supports — what will her future be?  Where are her children?  Will she get back the lost years and be able to tell her story?

And I don’t expect an end to the illegitimate “war OF terror” until people living in the United States reject the dangerous direction their government is taking, against the interests of humanity.

See Aafia Siddiqui and the ongoing war on terror by Sadia Ahsanuddin on Connie Nash’s blog, One Heart for Peace.

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Drone aircraft will be used to nab illegal immigrants on California-Mexico border

Drone aircraft will be used to nab illegal immigrants on California-Mexico border

December 7, 2009 Predator drones, the unmanned aircraft used by the U.S. military in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, will soon be employed to track illegal immigrants on the Mexico-California border.

The drone, which will be unveiled later today, will be operated out of the Antelope Valley by the military contractor General Atomics. The drones will fly above the border region with advancing electronic tracking equipment looking for illegal immigrants crossing into California.

According to the San Diego-based company, the drones will transmit information to U.S. authorities on human smuggles as well drug smuggling.  Such drones are already used on the border of Texas and Arizona.  Border Patrol officials told SignOn San Diego that the drone would initially be used to monitor ocean area, which has been used by human smugglers.

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