"NSA Illegally Spies on Countless U.S. Residents" (Kenneth J. Theisen, World Can't Wait):
On Thursday, April 16th, Senator Diane Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair announced that the panel would investigate reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) improperly tapped into the domestic communications of Americans. The NSA has been intercepting Americans’ emails and phone calls in recent months to an extent that exceeded even the overbroad limits permitted under the spying legislation passed last summer. Feinstein stated, “We will make sure we get the facts.” She went on to say that the hearing will be held within a month. But don’t expect the Senate which passed the law to legalize the massive NSA spy programs to actually protect your rights.
The reason the Senate committee is going to hold the hearing is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated on April 15th that the NSA had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails while eavesdropping on foreign communications. DOJ told the New York Times, that it had "detected issues that raised concerns." The DOJ statement went on to say that DOJ officials then "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance" with the law. This discovery was allegedly made during a review of the NSA spying program.
DOJ now maintains that the problems have been corrected and we are supposed to take the department’s word on this. DOJ refused to discuss what took place, for how long, and how the NSA “improperly” spied on Americans.
The NSA also issued a statement on April 15th which alleged that NSA “intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.” Well now I feel okay. The NSA would never attempt to deceive the American people.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) also jumped on the re-assurance bandwagon. In its statement it claimed “when inadvertent mistakes are made, we take it very seriously and work immediately to correct them.” Right! It was just an “inadvertent mistake.” Forgive and forget.
Well I have news for DOJ, Feinstein, the NSA, DNI, and the entire Obama administration. The entire NSA spying program is illegal and unconstitutional. It was illegally initiated by the Bush regime immediately after 9/11 and then later “legalized” by a compliant Congress. Even Senator Obama voted for this massive violation of the Constitution while he ran for president. The NSA program uses data-mining techniques to sweep up vast amounts of telecommunications from all over the world. It literally spies on millions of emails, phone calls, etc.
That's an important article and you can use the link to read it in full. I'm opening with World Can't Wait and closing with C.I.'s snapshot.
In between? Talking entry.
Today the man who stalked Rebecca and then transferred his sick attachment onto C.I. surfaced again. Jess is upset and I spent about an hour on the phone assuring him that C.I. doesn't give a damn. She doesn't. She's tougher than nails and always has been. She's not going to fret the stalker and didn't before.
But while talking to Jess, I made up my mind about something I've been considering for about three weeks.
A series of e-mails went into my spam folder and I saw them when Sunny mentioned some strange e-mails.
A man wanted me to change a post's title because it was hurting someone.
My initial reaction was to write him back and say, "Sure."
Then I read the post. This is a journal and I really don't know what I've written and what I haven't.
So I read it and remembered what I was feeling when I wrote it.
C.I., Rebecca and Ava had already said, "Don't change the title." Their reasoning was the writer I was critiquing didn't write, some guy did.
As I read over and over what I wrote, I had more reasons not to change it.
The writer's a woman and she attacked people.
Now she didn't attack writers or anyone in the public eye. That would have been one thing. She attacked American people, part of that whole, "I don't like people in the south or the Mid-West so let me smear all as racists."
That woman is supposedly fretting over my post that said she played with her own feces?
She did. Her writing was akin to a monkey in the zoo playing with their own feces, hurling it at others.
I'm not changing the title, I'm not changing anything in the post.
The woman shouldn't have attacked the American public, she shouldn't have smeared them, she shouldn't have attacked average citizens.
She wrote something really ugly, really, really ugly about people.
I'm glad that's she reportedly upset with my post. I'm glad to know it made her cry. Or allegedly made her cry. That she is "freaked out" by it. Maybe she'll remember that the next time she wants to launch attacks at groups of people she's never even met.
Now she can say whatever she wants about politicians, journalists, what have you. But I'm not in the mood for this, "Let's distort and attack the people." I'm not in the mood for people who are too lame or too lazy to attempt to communicate with the American people and instead decide to insult them.
I was thinking about that because Jess told me what the stalker had written C.I.
With Rebecca, the stalker was writing these lovey-dovey mash-notes. They so freaked Rebecca that she immediately left the country. That's how I ended up blogging, she asked me to do it for her. I was fine with it because I knew what was going on and didn't blame her for being freaked by some fifty-plus male drooling on about how "You wrote about a Joan Baez song! Me and Bob Somerby were just listening to that song last summer when we were driving across country! I feel like you and me are soul mates!" That was the first freaky e-mail. It was followed by many, many more that got freakier and more demanding. Rebecca just ignored it and stayed out of the country for about six weeks.
Flyboy hired a bodyguard and had a new alarm system installed. He didn't find the creepy "I must have you" mash notes interesting.
The stalker was calling people trying to get information on Rebecca (where she lived, etc.).
So that finally ends and the stalker then latches onto C.I. but apparently in anger and blaming C.I. for the fact that Rebecca would have nothing to do with him.
Stalker wrote non-stop threatening e-mails to C.I.
It freaked Jess out. C.I. doesn't give a damn about failed comics -- and the stalker is a failed comic and was very sensitive about that in his most recent e-mail that came in yesterday.
So my point here is we all thought the stalker was gone. A year or so later he shows back up.
So, no, I'm not in the mood to change anything I wrote. I change it once and think the matter's over? Turns out I'd be getting more e-mails.
I stand by what I wrote and caution people allegedly attempting to build a movement that insulting Americans, running them down and attributing the worst motives to them will never, ever help your cause. It's sad that so many fail to grasp that. But, if you pay attention, you'll grasp this group is the Cult of Barack and for them it's all about Barack.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 17, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, the US State Dept fudges in a new report, Matthis Chiroux prepares for a court date, and more.
Starting with war resistance, Matthis Chiroux was supposed to stand before a military body last month but that changed. He explained to Digital Journal's Stephen Dohnberg why the date was changed to April 21st, "My former JAG attorney volunteered for Iraq service and was deployed a number of weeks ago. Thus, I had to get a new lawyer and a new court date. I think the Army may have been hoping I'd already bought tickets for people to be in attendance and it would have wiped out my finances. Lucky for me, I'm a last minute kinda guy. My replacement is a JAG attorney. Thomas M. Roughneen." This is "Resistance to an Abhorrent Occupation: Press Release of Matthis Chiroux" (World Can't Wait):(ST. LOUIS, MO) The U.S. Army will hear the case of Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, an Individual Ready Reservist who last summer publicly refused activation and deployment orders to Iraq, on April 21 at 1 Reserve Way in Overland, St. Louis, MO, at 9 a.m. Chiroux, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, refused to participate in what he described as "an illegal and immoral occupation" May 15th, 2008, in Washington D.C., after nine other veterans testified to Members of the U.S. Congress about atrocities they experienced during deployments to Iraq. Chiroux also vowed to remain public in the U.S. to defend himself from any charges brought against him by the military. (see matthisresists.us for a record of that speech and others by Chiroux) "My resistance as a noncommissioned officer to this abhorrent occupation is just as legitimate now as it was last year," said Chiroux, adding, "Soldiers have a duty to adhere to the international laws of war described as supreme in Art. 6 Para. 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which we swear to abide by before the orders of any superior, including our former or current president." Following Chiroux's refusal to deploy, the military did not contact him until after he and 10 other IVAW members marched on the final presidential debate Oct. 15, 2008, in Hempstead, N.Y. demanding to question then Senators Obama and McCain regarding their war policies and plans to care for returning veterans. After the veterans were brutalized and arrested by police, (one suffered a fractured skull and is currently suing the police for damages) the Army charged Chiroux with "misconduct" for refusing to deploy, announcing their intentions to discharge him from the reserves as a result. "I go now to St. Louis to honor my promises and convictions," said Chiroux. "Obama or No-Bama, the military must cease prosecuting Soldiers of conscience, and we will demonstrate to them why." Following the hearing, Chiroux and other IVAW members will testify about their military experiences which led them all to resist in different capacities the U.S.'s Overseas Contingency Operation (formerly the Global War on Terror). For more information, see matthisresists.us and ivaw.org.
Betty covered Mathis last night in "April 21st, St Louis, Matthis needs your support." June 15, 2008, Matthis explained his reasoning which includes:
I believe that this nation and this military may come to know the same truth: That the rule of law has been forsaken and we must return to it or be doomed to continue disaster. I believe in the goodness of the American people and I believe that justice is not dead because we as a people believe that it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government in our names. We know this truth to be self-evident that our nation can unite to oppose an illegal occupation which is killing and scarring and shattering the lives of our youth and the Iraqi people. On this Fathers Day, know, America, that your children need you. We need you to care for us and to care for our country which we will inherit when you are finished with her. We need you to end this occupation of Iraq which has destroyed a country and scattered its people to the wind like ashes in the tempest -- a tempest that has engulfed the nation of Iraq and scrubbed any sign of peace and prosperity from the surface of a civilization older than even history itself. Fathers, we need you to care for your children and the children of Iraq for they know not why you fight and carry no fault in the conflict. Fathers, your sons and daughters need you now to embrace peace for though we were attacked, we have dealt in retaliation that same suffering one-thousand times over to a people who never wronged us. The nation will know little healing until first we stem off the flow of blood and human life for justice and healing will never be done by a blade or a bullet or a bomb or a torture cell. By continuing to participate in the unjust occupation of Iraq, we, as service members, are contributing to that flow of human life and we cannot now -- nor could we ever -- call the Iraqi people an enemy in the fight against the use of terror. But terror is all we now know. We are terrified of the prospect that we have been lied to. We are terrified by the idea that we have killed for nothing. We are terrified to break the silence. We are terrified to do what we know is right. But never again will I allow terror to silence me. Nor will I allow it to govern my actions. I refuse terror as a tactic for uniting a people around an unjust cause. I refuse to allow terror to motivate me to do violence on my fellow man especially those who never wronged me in the first place. I refuse to be terrified to stand in defense of my Constitution. And I refuse to be terrified of doing so in great adversity. As a resister to the Iraq Occupation, I refuse to be terrified by what may come for I know those who stand against me are in terror of the truth. But I will speak my truth, and I will stand by it firmly and forever will my soul know peace. Thank you.
Matthis Chiroux's entire speech is in the June 16, 2008 snapshot. Iraq Veterans Against the War notes:
On Tuesday April 21st an Army administrative discharge board will hear the case of Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, an Individual Ready Reservist (IRR) who last summer publicly refused activation orders in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The board will convene at 9am at the Army Human Resources Command, 1 Reserve Way in Overland, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. IVAW members and supporters will rally outside the hearing starting at 8:30am.
Although Chiroux is voluntary attending this hearing, all other IRR members who have refused activation have not had any disciplinary actions taken against them by the military other then receiving a General or Other Than Honorable discharge from the IRR. This discharge has no effect on benefits like the GI Bill that IRR members earned through their service while on active duty. Service members who have questions about the IRR can click here or contact the GI Rights Hotline at 877-447-4487.
So that's this coming Tuesday. Wednesday the 15th, the latest 'progress' report on Iraq was released. The US State Dept report is entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq Status Report." Page 3 offers an overview of the report entitled "Highlights" which includes:
* Amnesty International Calls on PM Maliki to Protect Homosexuals in Iraq (POLITICAL, page 4).
* Iraqi Vice President to Meet with Executives from Total (ECONOMIC, page 10).
* Prime Minister Maliki Visits Moscow for High-Level Talks (DIPLOMATIC, page 20).
* High-Profile Attacks Fail to Re-Ignite Sectarian Violence (SECURITY, page 22).
We'll dive into security and move to page 23 where the following appears -- see if you can catch the distortion:
MNF-I COMMANDER Says U.S. on Track to Meet Withdrawal Deadlines:
* General Odierno said he believes the United States is on track to withdraw from major Iraqi cities by the end of June and all combat troops to depart Iraq by the end of 2011. Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," General Odierno said "We continue to work with the Government of Iraq so they can meet that timeline so that they are able to maintain stability after we leave. . . I still believe we're on track with that."
It continues but that quote had NOTHING to do with the June deadline. John King never combined the two -- the June deadline and end of 2011 one -- into one question asking
Gen Ray Odierno's thoughts. Here's the section they've pulled the quote from and the quoted section above will be in italics:
KING: Let me -- let me ask you -- let me move back to a more serious question, and the idea that, in the previous administration and in your service prior to this administration, you were very clear that you thought these decisions should not be based on political timelines; they should be based on conditions on the ground. I understand you're executing the orders of the commander in chief. I just want to get a sense of, are you concerned at all that the bad guys, the enemy, knows the timeline, too, and they are simply going into hiding, hoarding their resources, gathering their weapons and waiting for you to leave? ODIERNO: There is always that potential. But, again, let me remind everyone what change was in December when the United States and the government of Iraq signed an agreement, a bilateral agreement that put the timeline in place, that said we would withdraw all our forces by 31 December, 2011. In my mind, that was historic. It allowed Iraq to prove that it has its own sovereignty. It allows them, now, to move forward and take control, which was always -- it's always been our goal, is that they can control the stability in their country. So I think I feel comfortable with that timeline. I did back in December. I do now. We continue to work with the government of Iraq so they can meet that timeline, so that they are able to maintain stability once we leave. I still believe we're on track with that, as we talk about this today.
First note that the State Dept did not even get the words correct ("once we leave," not "after we leave" -- and, yes, in a government report, quotes should be correct). Second, notice that entire quote is to King's question about 2011. Click here for full transcript and here for report and video option (all links are CNN). In that interview, Odierno was not stating that the June deadline was on track. He has, publicly, with other outlets, raised the possibility of remaining in Iraqi cities past June 30th and did in that interview. The paragraph as written is a deliberate distortion and including his qualifiers somewhat (as the report finally does) comes after the report has already established a contrary message and it distorts what Odierno said. That's unacceptable. It is not accurate to take comments Odierno makes about a 2011 deadline and pass them off as remarks regarding a June 30, 2009 deadline. It's also bad p.r. because the rumors already that Gen Ray Odierno is being "censored" and that he was balled out for some of his public statements two days before that CNN interview. The State Dept misrepresenting Odierno's words only appears to confirm those rumors since they indicate an urge to put words into the general's mouth. Moving on, page 7 is "Key Legislative Issues" and we'll note that in full.
* Hydrocarbons Package: The Framework Law was resubmitted to the Oil and Gas Committee on October 26 and then returned to the Council of Ministers. There has been no progress on the other three laws in the package.
* Budget: The Council of Representatives (COR) passed a budget on March 5. The Presidency Council approved the 2009 budget on April 2.
* COR Speaker: The COR has yet to reach a consensus on appointing a new Speaker since Mahmoud Mashadani was ousted on December 23, 2008. The COR concluded spring recess and resumed on April 14.
Credit to whomever wrote the report for at least getting it correct that the Speaker was ousted. Very few press reports -- including the New York Times -- get that correct. We'll note the LGBT section in full:
Amnesty International issued a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urging the Iraqi government to take "urgent and concerted action" against the recent rise in violence against the gay community in Iraq, including by condemning the killing of six men found dead in Sadr City in past weeks, and bringing the murderers to justice. Congressman Jared Polis also brought the issue to the attention of Iraqi officials during his delegation's recent visit to Iraq.
We noted the letter earlier this week. Amnesty International has not posted it online but they have posted this:
Amnesty International has written to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressing grave concern about a reported spate of killing of young men solely because of their sexual orientation and calling for urgent and concerted action by the government to bring those responsible to justice and to afford effective protection to the gay community in Iraq.
Over the last few weeks at least 25 boys and men are reported to have been killed in Baghdad because theyw ere, or were pereceived to be, gay. The killings are said to have been carried out by armed Shi'a militamen as well as by members of the tribes and families of the victims. Certain religious leaders, especially in al-Sadr City neighbourhood, are also reported in recent weeks to have urged their followers to take action to eradicate homosexuality in Iraqi society, in terms which appear effectively to constitute at least an implicit, if not explicit, incitement to violence against members of the gay community. Three corpses of gay men are reported to have been found in al-Sadr City on 2 and 3 April 2009; two of the bodies are said to have had pieces of paper bearing the word "pervert" attached to them, suggetsting that the victims had been murdered on account of their sexual identitiy.
In the letter sent to the Prime Minister Amnesty International expressed concern at the government's failure to publicly condemn the killings and ensure that they are promptly and effective investigated, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The letter also drew attention to reported statements by one senior police officer that appear to condone or even encourage the targeting of members of the gay community in Baghdad, in gross breach of the law and international human rights standards.
Amnesty International reminded the Iraqi government that it is a fundamental principle of international human rights law, including international treaties that have been ratified by and are binding on Iraq, that "All human beings are equal in dignity and rights" and are entitled to all rights and freedom set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind, such as on grounds of race, sex, religion, political, or other status, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The organization called on Prime Minister al-Maliki [to] take immediate and concrete steps to address this sitatuion, including to publicly condemn, unreservedly and in the strongest terms, all attacks on members of the gay community or others on account of their sexual, gender, ethnic or other identity, and to commit to ensuring that those responsible for such abuses are identified and brought to justice. Further, police officers or other officials who encourage, condone or acquiesce in such attacks must also be held to account and either prosecuted or disciplined and removed from office.
This morning AFP is reported that signs are going up around the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad threatening to kill a list of people alleged to be gay. The posters are put out by the Brigades of the Righteous and AFP translates the posters as stating, "We will punish you, perverts" and "We will get you, puppies" has been scrawled on some posters -- "puppies" being slang for gay males in Iraq. The Australian carries the AFP report here. Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (LAT's Babylon & Beyond) report the message on the posters included, "If you don't cease your perverted acts, you will get your fair punishment." The reporters also noted that a Sadr City resident saw a poster with approximately 15 names (of people who would be killed) written on it. These posters are going up around Sadr City. Where is the United Nations condemnation? Where is the White House, where is the US State Dept? Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) notes the only member of the US Congress to condemn the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, US House Rep Jared Polis and reports:
Noel Clay, a State Department spokesperson, said U.S. officials "condemn the persecution of LGBTs in Iraq," but he couldn't confirm whether the violence they're facing in Iraq is because of their sexual orientation. Clay noted that while homosexuality is against the law in Iraq, the death penalty is not the punishment for homosexual acts.
And yet at the start of this month the State Dept's Iraqi Desk John Fleming was telling Kilian Melloy (The Edge) that, "Homosexuality not a crime in Iraq." He was also stating that same-sex relations were of no conern to Iraqis ("immaterial"). That is laughable. Noel Clay has stated that same-sex relations have been criminalized in Iraq so unless or until the State Dept issues a public clarification, we will operate under the belief that Clay is correct. Attempts by the press to figure this out has been stonewalled.
Stonewalling? That brings us to yesterday's attack in Anbar Province on the Tamouz Air Base. How many died? No one can find out. Liz Sly and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) explain, "It is common in Iraq to receive contradictory information about casualties in the initial hours after an attack, though such a major discrepancy is unusual. A spokesman for U.S. Marines in Anbar declined to comment." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes Iraqi Maj Yassen al-Dulaimi stating, "We are shocked by the fact that a suicide bomber was able to infiltrate the guarded camp and passed through the gate to carry out this terrible attack." "Confusion often clouds accounts of attacks here, but rarely have senior officials offered such divergent reports about a death toll," observes Steven Lee Myers in this morning's New York Times. But the key note by Myers is this one: "Journalists were prohibited from entering the base and the hospital, which Iraqi and American officers visited after the wounded arrived." That's what this is, an attack on a free press. A bombing took place. A death toll is known and should not be in dispute. The puppet government (and possibly the US as well) is worried about 'embarrassment' and that apparently trumps facts and the right-to-know. This is appalling and would be similar to the US hiding an attack (example, 9-11) and barring the press from the area and from hospitals. It is an attack on the press and it is an attack on the historical record. Staying with attacks on the press, Wednesday Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) weighed in on the efforts of the Iraqi military to close the newspaper Al-Hayat: "That's not a good sign. Reminds me of the bad old days of 2004-2005 when the Iraqi government and MNF-I were routinely attacking the Arab media for fueling the insurgency and the offices of al-Jazeera and other satellite television stations were shuttered. You would think that they would have learned form the experience of banning al-Jazeera, which didn't prevent it from covering Iraq politics but did reduce the access that officials had to its airtime."
Iraq got some airtime on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show today when guest host Susan Page (USA Today) spoke with Barbara Slavin (Washington Times), Warren Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) and Kevin Whitelaw (US News & World Reports).
Susan Page: Barbara, we saw some bombings -- some uptake in violence there.
Barbara Slavin: Yeah, there've been a number of bombings there in Baghdad, in Kirkuk, in Mosul. There was a suicide bomber who went into an Iraqi army installation which was supposed to be secure in western Iraq so this is worrisome. The US is beginning to draw down, it's moving its soldiers out of the cities and the question is: Can Iraqis cope? We had a guest yesterday, we had an advisor to the president of the Kurdish Region of Iraq who said he was, frankly, very, very worried that if Iraqis could not make some important decisions in terms of political reconciliation -- I mean they still don't have an oil law, they still haven't figured out what to do about the status of Kirkuk which is a city claimed by many, you know there are still problems between Sunni and Shia -- that if they couldn't have these political reconciliations within the next years, this Kurdish leader said he didn't want the Americans to withdraw. Now I don't think there's much of a stomach frankly to stay but it is worrisome in terms of the continued violence in their country.
Susan Page: Could it complicate the timetable that President Obama laid out for pulling out US troops?
Warren Strobel: I think it absolutely could. You know I think there's a minset, Susan, in this country that, certainly, the American people and officialdom that "Iraq is over, it's getting better, we're getting out, problem done, let's move on to Afghanistan, Pakistan." But that's not necessarily so. And I think what you're seeing in Kirkuk and elsewhere is various ethnic groups, they're positioning themselves for post-US Iraq. And that's uh -- it could complicate Obama's withdrawal timeline.
Slavin was referring to tensions between the Kurds and the central government. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that "some Iraqi and U.S. officials believe [tension over Kirkuk] could escalate into armed conflict" and that this has "prompted the U.S. military in January to increase its troop level in Kirkuk from a battalion, roughly 900 troops, to a combat brigade of about 3,200 soldiers."
Today the US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - A Multi National Force -West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident here April 16. The Marine's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." This brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4274. In other violence,
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Baghdad mortar attack which left 4 dead and either more injured.
Meanwhile in the US, Jo Freeman examines the state of the peace movement at Senior Women Web and notes the March 21st march on the Pentagon staged by A.N.S.W.E.R. and others turned out "[b]etween one and two thousand people" (it was at least 10,000) while UPFJ saw "a few hundred" on April 4th (that tally is correct). Freeman's biggest contribution is in explaining that the Friday April 3rd action (which had a few thousand) was by the Bail Out the People Movement. Freeman also provides the background on several organization but is sketchy on UPFJ. Jo is incorrect that the Iraq War is ending and, for the record, during Nixon's time she was far less likely to present an assertion as a fact. But in good news for the peace movement, some realities about Barack are beginning to stick. The issue of torture was covered last night by Mike ("Barack's latest disgrace"), Marcia ("Ray McGovern"), Ruth ("Ray McGovern"), Kat ("It's called 'justice,' Barack") and Cedric ("Barack needs a Constitutional tutor") and Wally ("THIS JUST IN! HE DOESN'T KNOW JUSTICE!"). Amnesty International notes:
US President Barack Obama has been accused of "condoning torture" following his announcement that CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects will not be prosecuted. Amnesty International has called on the US administration to initiate criminal investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for carrying out acts of torture, including waterboarding, in its "war on terror". "President Obama's statements in the last days have been very disappointing. In saying that no one will be held to account for committing acts of torture, the US administration is in effect condoning torture," said Daniel Gorevan, of Amnesty International's Counter Terror with Justice campaign. "It's saying that US personnel can commit acts of torture and the authorities will not take any action against them. Memos were released this week detailing the range of techniques the CIA was allowed to use during the Bush administration, including sleep deprivation and simulated drowning (otherwise known as waterboarding). "The memos, in effect, justified torture techniques," said Daniel Gorevan. "We want to see prompt movement on behalf of the US administration on this to prosecute those responsible for the acts of torture, as well as those who authorised and justified these acts."
National Lawyers Guild member and GI Rights attorney James Branum observes, "President Obama and AG Holder are in my opinion now complicit in these crimes. Their argument that the CIA agents were relying on legal advice is a crock of ****. I'm sure Nazi lawyers said the holocaust was 'legal' too." Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) explains, "Barack Obama is being given great credit for releasing the memos, although as the president himself points out in his statement, their release was actually required by law. I suppose it's true that the United States government has become so degraded that we must be surprised and glad when a president actually obeys the law when it suits him, but I must say that I can't find any great cause for rejoicing -- especially as Obama's statement immediately and definitely ruled out prosecuting any of the direct perpetrators of these criminal actions." At Just Left, Michael Ratner (Center for Constituational Rights president) explains, "In making the decision not to prosecute, President Obama is acting as jury, judge and prosecutor. It is not his decision to make. Whether or not to prosecute law breakers is not a political decision. Laws were broken and crimes were committed. If we are truly a nation of laws as he is fond of saying, a prosecutor needs to be appointed and the decisions regarding the guilt of those involved in the torture program should be decided in a court of law." With Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith, Michael Ratner also co-hosts WBAI's Law and Disorder. The American Civil Liberties Union encourages people to "demand accountability for torture" and makes it simple to send a message to the US Attorney General's office with a form at the previous link. World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet states it clearly, "And, given that Obama is releasing these memos AT THE SAME TIME as he is officially announcing he won't prosecute those who carried all of this out means --in my view - - that nobody familiar with the release of these memos can any longer claim honest confusion about whether or not Obama represents 'change'." World Can't Wait is staging a forum on torture tomorrow in Orange, California (near Santa Ana and Anaheim):
Bush's Department of Justice legalized torture. Now Obama's Department of Justice won't prosecute and will even provide free legal representation to torturers. Your government refuses to bring war criminals and torturers to account. Will you remain silent or get informed, take a stand and build a movement to stop torture and demand accountability for war crimes?
WHAT: Forum on National Security, Rule of Law & Torture: The Torture Memos of John Yoo
WHEN: Saturday, April 18th, 2009 10 AM - 2 PM
WHERE: Chapman University Law School, Kennedy Hall, Rms. 237 A&B, 370 N. Glassell (at Sycamore), Orange, CA 92866
WHY: John Yoo, while working for the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel, drafted legal memos which, some say, influenced the U.S.'s decision to legalize torture. John Yoo is currently a visiting professor at Chapman University School of Law, where the controversy continues.
"John Yoo's complicity in establishing the policy that led to the torture of prisoners constitutes a war crime under the US War Crimes Act". Cited from testimony provided to U.S. Congress on May 6, 2008 by Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild President.
WHO: Concerned residents and students from the Chapman community and surrounding area came together and formed Stop Torture Coalition to voice opposition to legalization of torture, inform people about torture, and call on people to stand against this assault on human rights and civil liberties. This forum is hosted by the National Lawyers Guild, Chapman Student Chapter.CONTENT: A public forum with Question and Answer session to examine• Whether Yoo is complicit in the commission of war crimes.• Whether torture is necessary for national security.• What is the impact on our basic human and civil rights.
M. Katherine B. Darmer, Professor of Law, Chapman University Law School
Larry Everest, author of "Oil, Power & Empire", writer for Revolution newspaper
Ann Fagan Ginger, President of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
Tim Goodrich, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ameena Qazi, staff attorney for Council on American-Islamic Relations
Moderated by Michael Slate, host of KPFK's Tuesday edition of Beneath the Surface
ENDORSED BY: Answer-LA, California Teachers for Academic Excellence; Code Pink- OC; David Swanson / AfterDowningStreet.org; Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute; Military Families Speak Out- OC; National Lawyers Guild Chapman Students Chapter; National Lawyers Guild –LA; Orange County Peace Coalition; Patrick Henry Democratic Club; Peace and Freedom – OC; Progressive Democrats of America; Scientists Without Borders; Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Anaheim; US Federation of Scholars and Scientists; Westside Progressives; Women For: Orange County; and World Can't Wait.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week:Americans are addicted to coal--it powers half of all our electricity, and is both plentiful and cheap. In fact, some call America the "Saudi Arabia of Coal." But are we paying too high an environmental price for all this cheap energy?With carbon emissions caps high on the Obama Administration's agenda, coal is in the crosshairs of the energy debate. This week, NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Wyoming to take a hard look at the coal industry there and its case that it can produce "clean coal"--coal that can be burned without releasing carbon into the atmosphere. President Obama has been outspoken in his support for "clean coal" technology, but some say the whole concept is more of a public relations campaign than an energy solution.As part of the report, Hinojosa talks with Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and Jeff Goodell, the author of "Big Coal," who says that carbon dioxide emissions generated from coal contribute to global warming.Our investigation is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."Washington Week also begins airing tonight on most PBS stations and sitting down with Gwen this week are Tom Gjelten (NPR), Spencer Hsu (Washington Post), Eamon Javers (publication which shall not be named) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Also on PBS (and begins airing tonight, check local listings) Bonnie Erbe sits down with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Genevieve Wood, Linda Chavez and Melinda Henneberger to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:401K RecessionNever created to be a mainstay of workers' retirement funds, 401ks became just that to millions of Americans who are now facing uncertain futures because of the devastating losses in the stock market. Steve Kroft reports.
Cold Fusion Is Hot AgainPresented in 1989 as a revolutionary new source of energy, cold fusion was quickly dismissed as junk science. But today, the buzz among scientists is that these experiments produce a real physical effect that could lead to monumental breakthroughs in energy production. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
Blood BrothersMatador Cayetano Ordonez nearly dies during this segment when he's battered by a bull in a Bob Simon report about him and his brother Francisco – Spain's remarkable bullfighting family – who these days are creating just as much drama outside the ring as in it. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, April 19, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
iraq veterans against the war
the los angeles timesliz slyusama redhathe new york timessteven lee myers
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