Archive for category war and occupation

Closing Guantanamo Requires Us

Over an intense week protesting the beginning of the 10th year of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, I continued to learn more.  The situation for the 173 men there is changing, though not towards a just resolution.

After nine years, it got through to me that use of the word “detainees” indicates something impermanent, as if one is “detained” doing an errand.  The men have been imprisoned; they are prisoners.  So we shall call them prisoners and released prisoners.

Many thanks to Andy Worthington for coming to the U.S. last week, speaking and talking with all us involved in trying to end the U.S. regime of indefinite detention, based on torture begun by the Bush regime.  His attention to the cases of 774 men, and grasp of the prison’s history is remarkable.  You can see and support his work here.

Protests last week centered on the demand that Guantanamo be closed, with justice.   A statement still circulating to that effect is here.  Groups in other cities, and 100 fasters around the country, continue to speak out.  World Can’t Wait in Chicago is sponsoring an event January 25 at DePaul University with Dr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, attorney Candace Gorman, and myself.

Thanks to Witness Against Torture, leading an ongoing fast for justice through January 22, two years from the day Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo.  Thanks to the attorneys who have defended the prisoners, too numerous to name here, and who shared their sense of outrage with us.  And to the Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International for a dramatic and intense protest Tuesday January 11 in front of the White House, and later at the Department of Justice.

The voices of the former prisoners — who of course could not be with us at the protest, as they are still considered “enemy combatants” though they were never charged — came through.  Omar Deghayes, who speaks so movingly in the film Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo, sent a message read in front of the White House by Kathy Kelly:

…This past December 19th just marked three years to the day that I tasted freedom again and was released from Guantánamo to the warm embrace of my family and the community who fought so hard for my freedom. But not a day has passed since in which my thoughts and prayers have not remained with the 173 men who continue to languish in Guantánamo, detained without trial, most of them not facing any charge, and entering their tenth year of being separated from their loved ones. 90 of these men have actually been cleared for release long ago…

January 11, 2011 Andy Worthington speaking to protesters & media in front of the White House

Andy Worthington explained to the hundreds of people standing in the street before the White House, what’s happened to the 173 men left.  In a piece that summarize the pace of closure, Guantánamo Forever? makes the case that the Obama administration, as indicated back in May 2009, is making indefinite detention a permanent feature:

…it is reasonable to propose that Guantánamo is now a permanent institution for a variety of reasons. The first concerns a number of cynical moves by lawmakers in recent months, inserting provisions into a military spending bill that are explicitly designed to keep Guantánamo open — a ban on using funds to transfer Guantánamo prisoners to the U.S. mainland to face trials, a ban on using funds to buy or build a prison on the U.S. mainland to hold Guantánamo prisoners, and a ban on the release of any prisoner cleared for release by the President’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force (composed of representatives of government departments and the intelligence agencies) to countries considered dangerous by lawmakers — including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen…

Andy looks further into this situation in Nine Years Later: The Political Prisoners of Guantanamo, showing some of the complex factors behind the paralysis.  An even larger group of prisoners are held in Bagram, at the U.S. air base, in what the U.S. argues is a “war zone” so that the prisoners may not have habeas corpus, echoing the Bush regime of 5 years ago.  Military tribunals, or “commissions” have been widely derided as unjust.  Obama says some of the prisoners are “too dangerous to release” or to try.  Is it that what would come out in court would be too revealing of the illegitimacy of the war on terror?  And concludes

Until these problems are solved and the Guantanamo prisoners are either tried or released, President Obama’s contribution to this bitter legacy of the Bush administration is to be presiding over the unthinkable: a prison where, however the prisoners have been designated, they are almost all held in indefinite detention and are, indeed, political prisoners.

Over the next year, we will experience the ten year anniversaries of 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, the attack on Afghanistan, and the opening of Guantanamo.  We have something to say now, and over the next year, about whether the outrages associated with the Bush years continue along, or are sharply opposed by more and more people.

World Can’t Wait began its Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime in 2005 with:

YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.

YOUR GOVERNMENT is openly torturing people, and justifying it.

YOUR GOVERNMENT puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

And we ended it with, “The future is unwritten.  Which one we get is up to us.”

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What the U.S. Prison at Guantanamo Accomplished

The voices almost never heard in the discussion of torture, indefinite detention and Bush’s Guantánamo are the men who were themselves detained. Over 600 have been released, in a tacit admission by the U.S. that they committed no crimes.  174 are still detained, even though Obama’s own commission found last year that more than 90 should be released immediately.  We should hear these voices.

Andy Worthington published this letter last week, from a Yemini detainee:

A letter from Guantánamo, by Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif

To Attorney David Remes who dedicated his efforts to work on my dead case. The case that has been buried by its makers under the wreckage of freedom, justice, and the malicious and cursed politics.

Testimony and Consolation

I offer my dead corpse to the coming Yemeni delegation.

They agreed on the torture and agonies that I went through all those years.

They knew that I am innocent and at the same time ill and that I left my country to seek treatment.

This is also a message to the Yemeni people who bear the responsibility of my death in front of God and the responsibility of all of the other Yemenis inside this prison. This prison is a piece of hell that kills everything, the spirit, the body and kicks away all the symptoms of health from them.

A Testimony of Death

A testimony against injustice and against the propagandists of freedom, justice and equality.

Adnan Farhan Abdulatif while in the throes of death.

From Close Guantanamo with Justice Now, by dozens of organizations to mark the beginning of the 10th year of Guantanamo on Tuesday, January 11, 2011:

The story of Guantánamo remains the shameful case of the U.S. government rounding up nearly 800 men and boys, indiscriminately labeling them “the worst of the worst,” and throwing them into an island prison designed to exist beyond the reaches of the law, where they would have no right to challenge their detention or abuse. The vast majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo should never have been detained in the first place. Many were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and were fleeing the chaos of war when U.S. forces entered Afghanistan. Only one in twenty was captured by the U.S. military. Most were captured by local civilians and authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan and sold to the United States in exchange for substantial bounty. According to Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a senior State Department official who served in the Bush administration between 2002-2005, the Bush administration knew early on that the majority of the men at Guantánamo were innocent but did not release them due to political concerns that doing so could harm support for the government’s push for war in Iraq and the broader “Global War on Terror.”

5 men still detained by the U.S. in Guantanamo January 2011

5 of the men still detained by the U.S. in Guantánamo, January 2011

Andy Worthington and other journalists have spent years documenting the abuse detainees suffered.  See the report by ProPublica, Prisoners’ Recollections Differ from Guidelines, contrasting the “torture memo” report released by the Obama administration in 2009, with its dry and utterly bland descriptions of torture procedures ordered by the Bush regime, with the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2007 which, given the ICRC’s reluctance to criticize governments, was scathing in its criticism of the Bush program.

The problem is not simply that Barack Obama has not followed through on his pledge to close Guantanamo by January 22, 2010.   In many ways, as we said in the Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them statement,

this is worse than Bush. First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention.

Ten weeks after the publication of that statement in The New York Times, Obama, it was reported by Dafna Linzer at ProPublica that

The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials… the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

This executive order, may be released on or near January 11, putting a close to any faint illusions — or delusions – on the part of those who says that Obama is “really trying” to close the illegal prison.

In another recent piece With Indefinite Detention and Transfer Bans, Obama and the Senate Plumb New Depths on Guantánamo Worthington says:

President Obama is now fulfilling one of Dick Cheney’s great hopes, presiding over a prison in which the overwhelming majority of the remaining 174 prisoners will, in all likelihood, continue to be held indefinitely.

Over at The Talking Dog, dog says:

Every day, in every way, the people of the Obama Administration just want you to know that if there is any material difference between it and the Bush Administration… they must not be doing their jobs right.

Just so we are clear: the continuation of the global “war on terror” continues, now fully endorsed by the administration and the Congress.  As always, it’s up to us to make our demands visible.  Join me in Washington DC on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.

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December 16: Veterans Say Stop These Wars NOW!

Glenn Greenwald interviewed Nir Rosen today, on his book Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World.

Listen to it here.

I  urge people to think about the questions he’s posing here.  The reasons behind “Enduring Freedom,” for the US occupying two countries, has been that the population will be “saved” and safer; and will welcome its liberation.  The million + troops who’ve been deployed to those countries know that’s not true.  The people themselves know it. It’s reported now that the great majority of Afghans want the U.S. to leave, according to a poll in The Washington Post last week.

That’s why I’ll be outside The White House with Veterans for Peace on Thursday, for the “largest veteran-led civil resistance action” in years.

“I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name,” said Leah Bolger, a leader of Veterans for Peace.

Veterans plan to chain themselves to the White House fence on December 16 to deliver the message, “Mr. Obama: End These Wars. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now!”

Daniel Ellsberg, a vocal defender of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and of Bradley Manning, who the U.S. military has charged with leaking documents, will speak and participate. Chris Hedges, author of Death of the Liberal Class, called on his readers to join him in going to the D.C. jail for the protest.

Join us!

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Hands Off WikiLeaks: Free Julian Assange

Julian Assange’s attorney, Mark Stephens, says that he’s learned there is a secret grand jury convened in Virginia, to consider charges against Assange, CNN reported today in Assange attorney: Secret grand jury meeting in Virginia on WikiLeaks.

Assange is being held in London on a Swedish warrant for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault there.  It’s widely believed that those charges – which should be carefully investigated, as should all charges of sexual misconduct – are a cover for the Swedish government handing Assange over to the U.S. government.

“I think that the Americans are much more interested in terms of the WikiLeaks aspect of this,” Stephens told Al-Jazeera. He said it was his understanding that Swedish authorities have said that if Assange is extradited there, “they will defer their interest in him to the Americans… It does seem to me that what we have here is nothing more than a holding charge.” The United States just wants Assange detained, he said, so “ultimately they can get their mitts on him.”

Amid a worldwide surge of protest against US government-sponsored attacks on Wikileaks by private companies, and the dangerous threats to prosecute Assange, TIME magazine announced that Assange has won the readers poll as Person of the Year.  In a TIME interview, Assange answers allegations:

Secrecy is important for many things but shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses, which leads us to the question of who decides and who is responsible. It shouldn’t really be that people are thinking about, Should something be secret? I would rather it be thought, ‘Who has a responsibility to keep certain things secret?’ And, ‘Who has a responsibility to bring matters to the public?’ And those responsibilities fall on different players. And it is our responsibility to bring matters to the public.

And,

This organization in its four years of publishing history — we don’t need to speculate, it has a history — has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on. That is a record compared to the organizations that we are trying to expose who have literally been involved in the deaths of hundreds or thousands or, potentially over the course of many years, millions.

The threats to Assange have been given wide publicity in US media.  Revolution in U.S. Lashes Out at Wikileaks, summarizes

Leading U.S. political figures clamored for Assange’s capture, even his execution. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said Assange is a “high tech terrorist,” and Newt Gingrich said he is an “information terrorist” who should be arrested as an “enemy combatant.” Influential right-wing columnist William Kristol asked, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy Wikileaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?” Sarah Palin, writing on her Facebook page, asked, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

Ray McGovern took those charges on, appearing on CNN.  Ray writes in What’s Behind the War on Wikileaks about the motives of leakers of war crimes

WikiLeaks’s reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.”

Rather than simply look the other way, Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth..  because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates and reform.

There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different.

Daniel Ellsberg appeared on The Colbert Report last week, disputed claims that Assange is “not a journalist” and that journalists shouldn’t report the actions of governments.

Those action of governments are What Wikileaks Reveals: Cables, Lies & Murder, writes Larry Everest:

Wikileaks’ trove of secrets offers vivid, direct, and unassailable evidence that the U.S. routinely carries out all manner of crimes across the world, from torture and rape in Afghanistan, to mass murder in Yemen, to illegal spying at UN headquarters. They show the U.S. involved in a no-holds-barred capitalist-imperialist rivalry with powers they are allied with, as well as their more direct rivals. They document how the U.S. manages a global network of brutal client regimes as key links in their empire of oppression and exploitation. And these secret cables show that the U.S. lies about all of it. This is the nightmare world the U.S. dominates, and is viciously trying to maintain.

Finally, intellectual activists in the UK made this statement, printed in The Guardian:

We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.

John Pilger, Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, Craig Murray, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas, Caryl Churchill, AL Kennedy, Celia Mitchell, Ben Griffin (former soldier), Terry Jones, Sami Ramadani, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Gentleman, Miriam Margolyes, Andy de la Tour, Katharine Hamnett, Iain Banks

Join in world-wide protests to say Hands Off Wikileaks!

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US Response to Wikileaks: Diplomacy as Another Means of Warfare

Can  you imagine the conversation in the Obama administration since the cables have been released by Wikileaks.org?   Attorney General Eric Holder, who can’t find a reason to prosecute anyone for actual torture, says ominously, referring to the legal difficulties in possible U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange,

“To the extent there are gaps in our laws, we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation.”

Wikileaks Release Evidence of War Crimes

Read/Sign Petition: In Support of Julian Assange

But Robert Gates, whose Pentagon has been threatening Wikileaks openly since the Afghan War Diaries release in July, said on November 30:

“I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought… Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation…Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’

The refrain from the government goes: Wikileaks is guilty of terrible crimes which “endanger national security;” they have blood on their hands…but, for damage control purposes, it’s not such a big deal when what they revealed.  Yet pressure was placed on Amazon.com this week to remove Wikileaks from its servers.  The site is up now, after being removed from Amazon.com’s servers Wednesday December 1.

The Department of Justice no doubt exerted pressure on Interpol to put out a warrant for Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges from a prosecutor in Sweden that have been off and on again.  Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s British attorneys, said the warrant from Sweden was highly unusual for the charges, and that Assange is not in hiding, but is taking care of his personal safety, given threats by people in power against him.  See more today on Democracy Now.

Glenn Greenwald, on Salon.com writes about the kinds of attacks on Assange and takes them on:

“The group demanding that Julian Assange be murdered without any charges, trial or due process.  There was Sarah Palin on on Twitter illiterately accusing WikiLeaks — a stateless group run by an Australian citizen — of “treason”; she thereafter took to her Facebook page to object that Julian Assange was “not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders” (she also lied by stating that he has “blood on his hands”:  a claim which even the Pentagon admits is untrue).  Townhall’s John Hawkins has a column this morning entitled ”5 Reasons The CIA Should Have Already Killed Julian Assange.”  That Assange should be treated as a “traitor” and murdered with no due process has been strongly suggested if not outright urged by the likes of Marc Thiessen, Seth Lipsky (with Jeffrey Goldberg posting Lipsky’s column and also illiterately accusing Assange of “treason”), Jonah Goldberg, Rep. Pete King, and, today, The Wall Street Journal.

Those who demand that the U.S. Government take people’s lives with no oversight or due process as though they’re advocating changes in tax policy or mid-level personnel moves — eradicate him!, they bellow from their seats in the Colosseum — are just morally deranged barbarians. There’s just no other accurate way to put it. These are usually the same people, of course, who brand themselves “pro-life” and Crusaders for the Sanctity of Human Life and/or who deride Islamic extremists for their disregard for human life.”

In addition to the New York Times and other US mainstream media who are spinning the story of the cables in support of US domination of other countries, there are journalists analyzing the content of the cable leaks from the standpoint of justice.  Scott Horton, on Democracy Now December 1, talked about what was revealed over the last years, when the U.S. strongly pressured Spain not to prosecute Bush regime officials over rendition and indefinite detention.  Democracy Now summarizes:

U.S. officials were especially alarmed when prosecutors in Spain and Germany began comparing notes on their investigations into CIA extraordinary rendition flights. U.S. officials said, quote,  ‘This co-ordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level.’  The investigation in Germany was in regard to the CIA abduction and rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri. He was wrongly abducted and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held for months without charge. When it looked like 13 CIA agents might be charged in the case, the U.S. embassy in Berlin stepped in and, according to one leaked cable, threatened, quote, that ‘issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship.’

Gareth Porter dug into the disinformation U.S. diplomats put out on Iran in Russians Refuted U.S. Claim of Iranian Missile Threat to Europe. Glen Ford takes apart US policy towards Iran in American Racism on Display in WikiLeaks Iran Cable:

Jeremy Scahill, this morning on Democracy Now, spoke to the open lies of the United States, specifically the Obama administration, in denying that the U.S. has military operations going on now in Pakistan.  The cables show otherwise.  Democracy Now.  Scahill exposes the Pakistani government’s blatant lies to its own people, while the U.S. behind the scenes, orchestrates two drone programs in Pakistan, allegedly a sovereign country.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and Brad Manning – whose execution is now being demanded by Mike Huckabee — must be defended, as a really key part of our movement to end the wars and war crimes.   This is just the beginning, on both sides of this battle over truth and empire.

We — all of us– need to keep digging into those cables and exposing the real crimes they cover.

I signed this statement, New Evidence Demands End to Wars, and urge you to come out to The White House on Thursday, December 16.

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“Cablegate” Raises Question: How Does a Superpower Dominate?

“Cablegate,” the huge leak of U.S. Embassy cables from 1966 to this year, began coming from Wikileaks.org Sunday.  This ongoing project, building on the leaks from earlier this year about the U.S. occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan, is huge not only for the amount of information released, but for its import.  I suspect we won’t know that fully until we have a chance to dig into more.  Wikileaks has helpfully organized the search by country, date, and topic.

What does the leak reveal?  More than just one administration’s practices; more than dirty tricks, individual opinions, “rogue” spies and diplomats, what I’ve seen already confirms a pattern, a system, of an un-checked superpower conducting “business as usual” behind secrecy, using diplomacy as yet another weapon.

Der Spiegel described it as “a political meltdown for American foreign policy” that leaves “the trust America’s partners have in the country … badly shaken.”  USA Today reports Hillary Clinton

“condemned the WikiLeaks release of once-classified diplomatic documents as nothing less than an attack on the United States and its allies.”

Private individuals are entitled to privacy, despite the actions of the Bush & Obama administrations, and governments may be entitled to secrecy.  But everything from “dirty tricks” ala Dick Nixon  to CIA assasinations are crimes by governments, and should be exposed.

Once again, we owe a debt to Wikileaks and the source of the leaks, for providing us the basis to see behind the lies. Bradley Manning is charged with these leaks, and sits in military prison at Quantico VA, awaiting a court martial. It is up to us to defend Manning, and do good with the revelations, by acting to stop the crimes through visible, vocal, public protest, just what World Can’t Wait exists for.

But the pro-war Congress leader Peter King wants Julian Assange tried for espionage as a “terrorist.”  Harold Koh, the State Department legal counsel who defends the Obama administration’s targeted assassination as compatible with international law, says the leaks will

“place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals,” and “place at risk on-going military operations.”

Nancy A. Youssef, in Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks, challenges that assertion.

“American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people’s lives in danger.But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone’s death.”

Glen Greenwald wrote earlier today on damage to civilians,

“Many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs — on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable “collateral damage” — are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks’ disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people.  For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves.  How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.”

The danger to civilians is in being militarily occupied, economically controlled and dominated by an unchecked superpower.  Everything we can do to rouse people living in the United States to act to end these occupations is needed, now!

worldcantwait.net will be covering the ongoing revelations.

Wednesday December 1: 2pm EST/11 am PST

Live From Frontline Club, London, a webcast on Wikileaks: The U.S. Embassy Cables

Following the release this weekend of 251,287 confidential United States embassy cables, this month’s First Wednesday debate will focus on the revelations of this latest leak from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. We will be joined by:  WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson; James Ball a data journalist who has been working with WikiLeaks; Nicky Hager, author and Investigative journalist; Additional panelists to be confirmed.

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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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United Response to George W. Bush Memoir

With the publication of George Bush’s book, Decision Points, we, the undersigned, set the record straight. Instead of being rewarded with a lucrative book contract and treated by the media as a distinguished statesman, Bush should be indicted and prosecuted for the crime of aggressive war, the supreme crime against peace in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan; devastation of the civilian population and civil society; the institutionalization of torture and denial of due process to detainees; massive illegal spying against people in the U.S.; and perjury before Congress and the people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been sent to an early grave because of Bush. Thousands of people have endured the most gruesome torture and abuse because of Bush. Tens of thousands of US service members have either died or suffered horrendous physical and mental injuries because of Bush. Trillions of dollars have been spent in the commission of criminal acts, abroad and at home.

It is the responsibility of the people of the United States to demand the investigation, indictment and prosecution of crimes committed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other high officials.

It is up to each and every one of us to act. Unless high officials are held accountable for criminal acts, it sends a clear message to future administrations – including the current one — that they are not required to uphold the basic tenets of human rights and international law. Today, in fact, we see that many of Bush’s illegal actions have become codified as a new norm.

George W. Bush is recognized by the people of the world as a criminal. We, inside the United States, understand that too and thus we must demand that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration uphold the law and appoint a Special Prosecutor for the prosecution of Bush and his principal accomplices. We also encourage individuals to take creative measures to stop Bush’s rewriting of history: speak out at his appearances, go to bookstores and move his book to the Crime Section, and challenge the media to cover our message.  War criminals may write books, but we—the people—must speak the truth.

Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition

Medea Benjamin, Code Pink

Elaine Brower, military mother, World Can’t Wait

Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace

Susan Harman, Code Pink & Progressive Democrats of America

Nancy Mancias, Code Pink

Ray McGovern, Veterans for Peace

Stephanie Rugoff, War Criminals Watch

David Swanson, War is a Crime

Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait

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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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Army “Killing Club” Uncovered But No Justice for Aafia Siddiqui

A federal judge in New York sentenced Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison today.  Her trial earlier in  2010, on charges of assault against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, was a travesty.  Obviously mentally distraught, having suffered isolation and alleging torture at the hands of her American captors, but remarkably perceptive and witty, Dr. Siddiqui was convicted of attempting to shoot U.S. special forces who were interrogating her.

Convicted murderers in the U.S. get 25 years, sometimes life.   People who shoot others get years in prison.   Those who commit war crimes generally don’t even get prosecuted, but that’s another story.  Aafia gets 86 years, but was not even charged with actually harming anyone, and certainly did not, as the defense showed in the trial.  She was shot in the stomach, and brought to the U.S. while still recovering form her wounds.  She is a victim of the Bush regime’s so-called “war on terror, ” as I wrote at the time in Victim of the War of Terror: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

There were mass protests in Pakistan, Siddiqui’s country of origin, at her prosecution, forcing the Pakistani government to pay for her defense in U.S. courts.  We probably will never know the intrigues behind the scenes, as the U.S. dominates and threatens Pakistan, while it’s also dependent on Pakistan’s ISI to contain the Islamic fundamentalist movement along the border with Afghanistan.  The U.S. bombs civilians in Pakistan — a country with which it’s not at war, but supplying huge amounts of weapons to — while, according to Seymour Hersh, important sections of the Pakistani military support the Taliban.

In the midst of all this, thousands of Pakistanis are disappeared, and a woman like Dr. Siddiqui, herself disappeared for several years, has no chance of justice from either government.

Dr. Siddiqui asked supporters not to raise funds for an appeal.  The Guardian reports

Before the sentencing, Siddiqui repeated her claim that she had been abducted and held at a “secret prison” for several years. She said she only wanted peace in the world. “I do not want any bloodshed. I do not want any misunderstanding. I really want to make peace and end the wars.”

“Killing Club” in Afghanistan

While Dr. Siddiqui’s trial went on in New York, with the prosecution bringing in her military interrogators to say how traumatized they were by her actions, their compatriots back in Afghanistan were preparing the “surge.”   Civilian and US military deaths began increasing; indeed 2010 already has more military deaths than any year of the U.S.’ longest war.

Part of that story is beginning to come out with the prosecution of U.S. Army Stryker Brigade members for targeted murders of Afghani civilians.  Real News interviews the Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton who is following the case.

U.S. Soldiers Charged with Targeting Afghan Civilians: Did U.S. Soldiers Create Afghan Killing Club?

Only because one soldier had misgivings about what his unit was doing, the military started a criminal investigation in May 2010.  5 soldiers are charged with killing civilians, and 7 with covering up the killings.  The Washington Post reported earlier this month, Members of Stryker Combat Brigade in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport.

BBC reported in US troops ‘murdered Afghan civilians and kept body parts’:

In charge sheets obtained from the US Army, Staff Sgt Calvin Gibbs, Cpl Jeremy Morlock, Pte First Class Andrew Holmes, Specialist Michael Wagnon and Specialist Adam Winfield are accused of murdering male Afghan civilians with grenades and firearms.

Other soldiers were accused of stabbing an Afghan corpse, taking or possessing photographs of casualties and beating other men in an effort to keep them from talking to investigators.

The soldiers were attached to the Army’s Fifth Stryker brigade, which deployed to Afghanistan last year and has seen heavy fighting around Kandahar. They were based in Washington state.

The reports get worse.   The Army Times, in a candid piece on September 13, describes rampant hashish consumption and alcohol binges in the unit, while writing these crimes off essentially as “isolated incidents”.

The charges only came about because a member of the unit complained to his father that he was being threatened because he opposed the killings.  In the New York Times blog today, his father, Chris Winfield, charges that the Army ignored his warnings, made before some of the later killings in May 2010, just as General McChrystal was being replaced. Father: Army Ignored Complaints Of Afghan Slayings

Emma and Christopher Winfield at their home in Cape Coral, Fla., on Sept. 3. Their son, U.S. Army Spc. Adam Winfield reported the "killing club," and is now himself accused of murdering civilians during his deployment to Afghanistan, a charge he and his family firmly refute.

The whole U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is illegitimate, unjust, and immoral.  The U.S. military is being led to commit war crimes.

The population of the United States is being directed to fear Muslims, who face political targeting and prosecution.  See Project SALAM.

As the anniversary of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan approaches, October 6, we should step up the loud and visible protest, demanding that the U.S. get out now.

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