Friday, March 10, 2006

"250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo"

Mike and I've picked out our two headlines from Democracy Now! and he thinks he's going to present a "more big picture" take on the two so please visit Mikey Likes It! for his thoughts.

"250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo" (Democracy Now!):
More than 250 medical experts have co-signed a letter condemning the United States for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The letter appears in the British medical journal The Lancet. The doctors wrote "We urge the US government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned." The doctors also said the American Medical Association should instigate disciplinary proceedings against any members known to have violated ethical codes while working at Guantanamo.

I am so bothered by the American medical establishment's inability to speak out on this issue. The Bisquit teams that probe for weaknesses and then pass those on to interrogators are not upholding the medical ethics of their profession. That's only the easiest example. Those using their training to figure out ways to "break" prisoners aren't living up to the profession's goals either. We can look back and condemn the Nazi's for doing this same sort of thing but we're not willing to speak out on what is obviously a serious violation of ethics and trust and a deliberate distortion of the role of healers we are supposed to play.

It is wrong and saying that obvious fact shouldn't require bravery. Our training should make that judgement, as well as calling it out, an automatic response. History will not judge anyone involved well.

"Civil Liberties Groups Seek Court to Shutdown NSA Spy Program" (Democracy Now!):
Two civil liberties groups asked the federal courts on Thursday to force the Bush administration to end its warrantless domestic spying program because it violates the privacy and free speech rights of US citizens. The requests from the Center for Constitutional Rights and American Civil Liberties Union came just days after Republicans blocked a Senate investigation into the National Security Agency spy program. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said "In America, no one is above the law, not even the president. The president's allies in Congress are preparing to cover up his illegal program, while others in Congress are standing on the sidelines. When the President breaks the law, Congress should not be giving him a get-out-of-jail free card."

There's a third group as well.

"Targets Of Illegal Surveillance Request Court Judgment Against President Bush Based On Public Records" (National Lawyers Guild):
New York. March 9, 2005. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) announced that its attorneys had joined in a motion requesting a summary judgment from the United States District Court in New York against President Bush and other defendants involved in illegal electronic surveillance without judicial warrants. The summary judgment motion asserts that no trial is necessary in the case because Administration officials have already made sufficient public admissions regarding the program for the court to rule that the President's actions are illegal and violate the Constitution.

The NLG is cooperating with other attorneys in the representation of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who are the plaintiffs in the case. The CCR lawyers allege that the government is likely to have listened to their conversations with international clients and others who have been targeted by the government.
NLG President Michael Avery, one of the attorneys handling the case, summarized the legal claims in the brief filed today. "The President simply has no power under our Constitution to conduct this surveillance and his actions violate the constitutional guarantee of separation of powers. What he has admitted to doing constitutes a criminal offense -- a felony under federal law."
The Guild also warned that the reported agreement between Republican Senators and the White House to amend federal statutes to authorize electronic surveillance for successive 45 day periods without court orders would result in a law that would be unconstitutional.
NLG President Michael Avery explained, "When the President fails to seek judicial warrants before his agents listen to the conversations of American citizens, he violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee that only judges and not FBI or NSA agents can order such invasions of privacy. Congress cannot repeal the Bill of Rights by passing a statute -- that was the very purpose of putting these rights in the Constitution."

I want to note one more thing on this topic, the topic of the last paragraph especially.

"NYT: 'G.O.P. Plan Would Allow Spying Without Warrants' (Shane and Kirkpatrick)" (The Common Ills):
Do we all get that? The White House and Republican lackeys are circumventing the courts. The FISA court is seen as a rubber stamp court, but it is a court. We're tossing judicial review out the window now. When Congress created FISA the reason for the creation was to allow the review. They, then, rightly grasped that there role was to make laws. Now they fancy themselves (unappointed) judges.

The general consensus is that 99% of all requests to FISA for warrants were granted. That wasn't good enough for this administration. And now you have a "solution" that totally strips away even the appearance of judicial review.
History lesson (Pat Roberts especially appears to need one): the executive branch enforces the laws, the legislative branch passes them and the judicial branch rules on them. That's getting tossed out the window. It's as though your local police department met with the city council to complain about those mean, slow judges, always deliberating about the laws, and the city council said, "Hey, we'll create our own little subcommittee of council members and you just come to us when you need a warrant."Is it constitutional? Not with a real Supreme Court but then . . .
Republican Senators have decided that they're going to override judicial review on the Fourth Amendment.
Since Roberts and his ilk don't seem to grasp the Fourth Amendment, let's note it here:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
That's out the window under Roberts' plan. That's big news and worthy of much more than a sentence stating:
The finding of probable cause would not be reviewed by any court.

Gonzales' love slaves have their say in the article too:
But Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine and another sponsor of the proposal, said it did not preclude an investigation by the committee if the subcommittee found that one was called for.
Oh Miss Havisham, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to leave the grounds of Satis House where everything, including your sanity, crumbles? It doesn't preclude an investigation? Where's the promised investigation, by Roberts, of the intel in the lead up to the invasion/occupation? Aren't we all still waiting on that?
Someday Snowe may have her awakening, running through the halls of Congress screaming, "I did not know what I had done. What have I done! What have I done!" Too bad for the nation that it's not two young lovers' fate at stake but that of the entire country.

It is unconstitutional and good for the National Lawyers Guild and C.I. for saying so. I included a longer excerpt from C.I., by the way, because Trina thought I'd worked in Pip from Great Expectations into something at The Third Estate Sunday Review. It was C.I. I love Great Expectations and so does Trina. We have similar tastes in "fun" reading because we'd prefer to read literature and the "heavier" the better. But I'd told her that if and when the Bully Boy's out of office, she should talk with C.I. about literature because it is a case of similar tastes. I think "like" would probably be the word C.I. would use for Great Expectations. C.I.'s not a slave to the canon. But C.I. does know it, has read it, and I just enjoy it when those references get worked in. "I did not know what I had done. What have I done! What have I done!" is an actual quote of Miss Havisham's from Great Expectations.

So, as both the NLG and C.I. have pointed out, this is an end run around the judiciary, the Senate "compromise." It's shutting out a co-equal partner from the process and disregarding the principle of checks and balances.

"Take Action: Demand Better Iraq War Coverage" (David DeGraw,
United For Peace And Justice, and tens of thousands of Americans in calling on U.S. media outlets to do a better job of reporting on the war in Iraq and the anti-war movement protests against it.As the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the nationwide Peace & Justice movement is, for the first time, focusing protests on the Pro-War media slant that has made the war possible.
With public opinion shifting from support for the war to calls for immediate withdrawal, the news media has an obligation to reflect on the role it has played in building a pro-war consensus with false and deceptive reporting. Many media organizations have published "mea-culpas" admitting "mistakes" and "flawed reporting," but the problem goes deeper and is ongoing.
The coverage remains one-sided and excludes anti-war voices from citizens and anti-war groups all over the world. We need real journalism, not jingoism.
It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!Click on the link below to send an email to U.S. media outlets now! Take Action: Demand Better Coverage

C.I. noted that in the "And the war drags on" entry last night. I want to note it here and another item as well.

"Brave Hart" (Peter Koch, Buffalo's Art Voice):
The grisly photographs Pat's friends snapped in Iraq began to haunt him. One series shows what happened when a truck failed to stop for a checkpoint that his friends were working: The truck is absolutely riddled with bullet holes, including about two dozen in the windshield. "They killed everyone inside, except for one," Pat says. The sole survivor is being treated for bullet wounds in some of the pictures. Apparently, he says, the medics were angry that the guards didn't kill him, too, for security reasons.
Another series shows two children who appear to have been burned by explosions or chemicals. Pat tellingly describes the first boy as being "about my son's size." Neither child can be more than three years old, and it’s impossible to look at their pained expressions and call them "collateral damage." A third series, by far the most disturbing, shows corpses of mostly Iraqi soldiers, though some of the dead are conspicuously noncombatants. They have either burned to death or been killed by large-caliber machine guns. One dead Iraqi soldier's index finger has been shoved up his nose by American soldiers, and the caption reads, "This is what happens when you're picking your nose instead of watching your sector."
"It's just the disregard for a human being, you's a dead body." Pat takes a long pause before continuing. "So I'm thinking, 'If I go over there, am I going to come back mentally screwed up like those two guys? Am I going to be able to interact with my son properly?' I love my son, I don't want to do anything to hurt him."
Then, in May of last year, Pat watched British Member of Parliament George Galloway fillet the US Senate, who'd fingered him in the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal. In Galloway's prepared statement, he turned the tables on the Senate, famously saying, "I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connections to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11/2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country, and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them forever disabled on a pack of lies."
At that same time, Pat says, younger soldiers, 18- and 19-year-old kids, were asking him questions about the war because he'd been to the Middle East before.
"'What’s it like, Sergeant Hart?' 'Why are we going over there? There's no weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein's out of power two years now.' 'Osama bin Laden's in Afghanistan, he ain't in Iraq, Sergeant Hart. What the hell?'" He found that he didn't have any good answers for his men. "What could I tell them?" Pat says. "'Shut up and do your job, because I'm an NCO and you're a private, and you're going to listen to me?' That doesn't hold much water when people’s lives are at stake."
After hearing Galloway speak, Pat says, it was clear that his heart just wasn't in it anymore, and that's when he started thinking about desertion.

The decision Pat Hart made to desert wasn't an easy one -- for him or for his wife Jill. I hope you'll read the article to get a sense of what they were grappling with then and are grappling with now. As Amy Goodman noted Monday on Democracy Now!, "Here in the U.S, at least 8,000 men and women have now deserted the military since the United States invaded Iraq three years ago. Meanwhile in Britain, soldiers are also refusing to fight in the war." Pat and Jill Hart's story is one you should be familiar with.