"In Letter to Attorney General, Rights Groups Demand Due Process Protections for Non-Citizens with Mental Disabilities" (The Center for Constitutional Rights):
Request for Attorney General Holder to Ensure Due Process for Persons with Mental Disabilities in Removal Proceedings
September 10, 2009 - In the spirit of the signing of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 19th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocates call for safeguards to ensure due process for persons with mental disabilities in removal proceedings. Both events honor our nation’s commitment to provide reasonable accommodations for and ensure basic fairness for all people with disabilities. Unfortunately, this principle is absent in our nation’s immigration system in which non-citizens with mental disabilities are not afforded these basic rights.
On July 24, 2009, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and a diverse group of community organizations, attorneys and physicians committed to protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities sent a letter to the United States Attorney General calling for reasonable accommodations that ensure basic fairness for people with mental disabilities in our nation’s immigration courts. The signatories presented four main recommendations that would help the government ensure these basic rights while providing a substantial cost benefit by increasing efficiency in immigration courts. These recommendations are well-established in civil and criminal courts throughout the country and have proven successful at both upholding the nation’s commitment to equal protection for persons with mental disabilities and creating cost savings for those systems. The recommendations include:
Appoint counsel to indigent people with mental disabilities who do not have legal representation.
Appoint guardians ad litem to people who are found mentally incompetent.
Enact regulations that standardize procedures for adjudicating competency in immigration court and that give immigration judges the authority to provide reasonable accommodations to protect the rights of people with mental disabilities, including the power to administratively close cases or terminate proceedings where appropriate.
Train immigration judges to recognize mental disabilities and make reasonable accommodations to ensure a fundamentally fair hearing.The Attorney General is charged with prescribing “safeguards to protect the rights and privileges” of persons with mental disabilities in immigration court. That charge flows from our nation’s commitment to ensure basic fairness for all people with disabilities. Such safeguards should be first and foremost in any discussion of immigration reform. We call on the Attorney General to revive the integrity of our judicial system by protecting the rights of the most vulnerable.
To read a New York Times article about one immigrant's personal story, click here.
To read the full letter and a list of all signatories, click on the link below.
Letter to AG Holder
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
That's an important issue and I am opening with it.
After? I have nothing of importance to share. You have been warned.
Oh wait. I can note that October 27th, Carly Simon's latest album, Never Been Gone, is released. That's important:
Free MP3 from new CD
Carly's new CD, Never Been Gone, will be released on October 27th. The CD features reworked versions of 10 of her greatest hits - as well as two new songs.
You can download the new version of Let The River Run now.
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Join one today! It's free and fun.
Carly to perform at 9/11 Ceremony
Carly will be performing her inspiring anthem, Let The River Run, this Friday at the 9/11 ceremony being held at Ground Zero. Joining her will be her son and daughter (Ben & Sally Taylor) along with musician Peter Calo.
While all of the national TV networks will be airing portions of the ceremony, we don't have any information on which exact networks will be covering the event at the time of Carly's performance.
I am not joking about the above being important. 2008 taught us that the peace movement was nothing but an auxillary club focused on electing Dems. Music really is all you can count on at this point. Carly Simon's one of our finest songwriters and she's offering two new songs in this collection and some reworkings of earlier favorites.
I will have that album the day it comes out. Trust me.
I'm happy to note it and it fits with what I was going to write about.
First, I'm mentioning the following in this post:
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
and Mike of Mikey Likes It!
A college friend is in town and he didn't realize C.I. was "C.I." He's seen The Common Ills before because he's against the Iraq War and there aren't many places online left that you can get news and commentary on the Iraq War. So when he realized it Wednesday night he was kind of shocked. He was over Thursday night after my group session and he, Mike and I were up late, late talking.
He noted how C.I.'s writing online really is melodic and you can picture her at a piano keyboard coming up with her comments. You really can. If you know her rhythms, you can read TCI just as she'd say it out loud.
But he was talking about back in college and asking me if I remembered how C.I. was about sheet music?
C.I. almost always had sheet music with her. It might be printed sheet music or blank sheet music she was writing a song on. She could write music away from the piano or guitar. Which I still find amazing. She can write it at the keyboard or with a guitar to strum but we could be in lectures that were so boring and she'd pull out some blank sheet music (or make a piece of paper into sheet music) and start writing a song.
She'd have several articles and several note cards for speeches she was going to be giving (either on campus or off) and also sheet music and you'd think she'd never get to all of the stuff but she would. If it were sheet music she'd purchased, she'd studied it and figure out the fingering and the rhythm so that when she finally was at a keyboard, she'd be able to play it perfectly from the first note.
From there, it turned to how music was always part of our college years. That's recorded music, yes, but that's also music we made singing in the car (often without a radio) and music we made with guitars and keyboards. He was saying that our apartment (C.I., Rebecca and my apartment) always seemed to have music and that's true and, honestly, something I would have done on my own because I couldn't handle silence for many, many years after my parents died. (My parents passed away when I was still a child.) I was really lucky to end up with Rebecca and C.I. because they loved music and never felt the need to holler, "Turn that down!" Or, "Can't we have some silence!"
Music wasn't just the background to our lives, very often it captured what we were going through. I do fear some of that is lost today. If it's being replaced with games speaking to young people today, that's fine. As long as there is something replacing it, that's great. I just fear some time that nothing has replaced it and it's a gaping hole that people do not even realize is there.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a prison riot at Abu Ghraib, Iraqi soldiers are shot dead, a new appeal for Camp Ashraf, can President Obama bypass the Senate on agreements with Iraq, and more.
On the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, Iraq was discussed. Steve Roberts filled in for Diane Rehm (who tripped a few Thursdays ago and expects to be back on Monday's program and will be on Saturday's Weekend Edition speaking with Scott Simon) and spoke with panelists Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy).
Steve Roberts: Karen, next door [to Iran], Iraq continues, almost every week we have to talk about it. This week in Iraq, a blast in the northern provinces, 25 or so people killed. This is an area of-of a lot of ethnic strife, Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs. What do we know about the security situation in-in Iraq and the potential for widening civil strife there?
Karen DeYoung: It's interesting that as these -- as these things have happened and there have been several big explosions, certainly starting from the August 19th suicide attack against the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, the Americans have gone out of their way in each instance to say, "Gosh this is too bad but we don't think it's a return to sectarian strife. We think things are proceeding as they should, we are leaving on schedule, if not before we are scheduled to leave." And you saw Ambassador Chris Hill, the US ambassador to Baghdad, was on Capital Hill yesterday testifying in the Senate and in the House and saying, "Look, you know" essentially saying, "this is growing pains. The Iraqis have to learn how to deal with these things themselves and they will learn by doing it."
Steve Roberts: I'm Steve Roberts and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. But in his (Hill's) testimony, the subtext clearly was drawing a very clear distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan. They continually say Iraq is-is not vital to national security in just -- in the way that Afghanistan remains.
Karen DeYoung: Well he was saying Look we have an ongoing interest in a partnership with Iraq. Iraq will -- You know we have this Strategic Framework Agreement that-that has levels of economic cooperation, cultural cooperation and some ongoing military cooperation, certainly in terms of training and-and other kinds of assistance. But that we are not -- we think in terms of the insurgency, that's Iraq's problem now and we're leaving it for them to deal with." Obviously, they still have problems in the north and that is the primary concern both on a military level, an economic level and a governance level The difficulties between the Kurds in the north and the -- and the Arabs and the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.
Let's use Karen's remarks to jump back to that hearing already covered in yesterday's snapshot. Last night, Kat shared her thoughts on the hearing and she also noted that I didn't do transcript format to cover as much of the two hearings as possible. Today we're going to zoom in on a few specific moments from the Senate Foreign Affairs hearing. First up, a few e-mails wonder if John Kerry was clear that Hill should summarize? Kerry is the chair of the committee and he was very clear in his instructions and Hill agreed to do what was asked and then went on to ignore what was requested of him.
Chris Hill: Thank you very much, uh Chairman Kerry, I would like to uhm -- I have a statement which I would like to --
John Kerry: We'll put the full statement in the record as if read in full and if you'd summarize that would give us more time to have a good dialogue. Thanks.
Chris Hill: Very good.
Is that not clear? Does any adult have trouble following what Kerry requested? Hill responded "Very good" and nodded. So presumably he understood what he was asked to do. He was asked to summarize his statement. The next words out of his mouth were, "Chairman Kerry, Senator Lugar, Members of . . ." and you can [PDF format warning] click here for the written statement he prepared ahead of time and you will see -- surprise, surprise, as Carol Burnett's Eunice used to say -- it starts the same way. In fact, 14 pages will be read word for word with the exception of when Hill loses his place. 14 pages. At which point, he will finally notice Kerry's displeasure and begin summarizing the last five pages. He will take approximately 11 minutes with the bulk of it (10 minutes) being spent reading word-for-word before he rushes to sum up the last five pages in one minute.
John Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, you also talked about the issue of reform in Iraq and, you know, we've been sitting on this committee listening to this talk I mean I can remember Secretary [Condi] Rice down in the lower building, lower room of the Dirksen, testifying to us in January three or four years ago saying the oil law's almost done, we're moving forward on this and that, etc, etc. We are at least three or four years later now and still those contentious issues remain contentious. Share with us, I mean, it seems those may be the explosion point also in the absence of an American presence. Would you lend your view on that and on the prospect of actually resolving these --
Chris Hill: Well first of all, I'd like to say that I think getting the economy there operating -- namely getting oil uh starting to-to-to be pumped out of the ground -- is essential to the future of that country and, frankly, we cannot be uh funding uh things that should be funded by the Iraqis and would be funded if they - if they were able to move on the oil sector. Uh with regard to the hydrocarbons law, I went out there with the expectation that we would move on that but I know -- you know -- it was held up -- it's been held up for three or four years. I have really worked that issue. We have tried to break it down, find out where the real differences are between the Kurdish government and the uh Iraqi government. It's a complex piece of legislation actually involving four separate pieces of legislation having to do with revenue sharing, having to do with institution building, uh having to do with uh how the ministry would operate and I think realistically speaking it will probably not get done before the January elections. So our concern has been we cannot have Iraq's future held up or-or simply held hostage to this one piece of legislation. Therefore we were pleased that the Iraqis did move ahead with the beginning of something they hadn't done for decades and decades and that is begin the process of-of bidding oil fields to foreign concerns. They didn't do it during Saddam, they didn't even do it pre-Saddam. So they have begun that. They began it in June. One of the --
John Kerry: That's all well and good but if all those revenues, if all those revenues are piling up in even greater amounts without some distribution mechanism --
Chris Hill: Well there is a distribution mechanism the 17% is basically -- is agreed to by all sides. So even when the -- when they -- on the Kurdish Regional Government when they were able to export some oil with an agreement with Baghdad, they did it under the provision of seven -- seventeen percent. So I think these things can-can be properly distributed. The issue is in the -- I won't say "long run" but certainly in the medium run they're going to need this law because the issues go to things like infrastructure. Iraq's oil sector is very much in trouble with very aging infrastructure. They have to have agreements no how they're going to pay for Is that the responsibility of local authorities? There are other issues having to do with the uh southern part of-of Iraq and there own regional concerns So I think they can deal with some of the key elements but it would be better if they dealt with the hydrocarbon law. I'm giving you my sense of the situation and I don't think we're going to get there before January. And therefore we really want to focus on getting them to bid out these fields because British-Petroleum in there is a good development.
John Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, Syria and Iraq had indicated a willingness to try to cooperate on the borders and deal with the foreign fighter issue which is very much in our interest and we've been pushing that on both sides. But the bombings on August 19th have now seen, you know sort of an explosion between the two countries, they've pulled their ambassadors and uh traded recriminations so where do we stand on that? What if anything can be done to end that? Will Turkish mediation make a difference? Is that the thing that we should be advocating at this point? And what do you think is the process for getting back to the place that we'd hoped to be.
Chris Hill: Well, I uh think we would like to see Iraq and uh Syria have a good relationship and it was rather ironic that on August 18th -- that is one day before the bombing -- Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki was in Damascus and they signed a number of economic agreements. Uh, obviously, things are -- things are in a difficult state and things are frankly on hold right now through this uh, through this uh down turn n the relationship. The Iraqis are very concerned about the fact that some senior Ba'athist leaders went and found refuge in Syria and remain in Syria. And the Iraqis have understandably called for their return to-to Iraq. That issue needs to be, frankly, needs to be worked through.
We'll stop on that section -- and note British Petroleum is not "in there" on its own, it formed a partnership with China National Petroleum Corporation. On the subject of Iraq and Syria, Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) report Nouri's spokesmodel Ali al-Dabbagh declared today, "It is premature to talk about the return of the ambassadors before Iraq sees seriousness from the Syrian side and the political will to implement the demands of Iraqis." Today's exchange is only the latest volley. Syria continues to demand proof before extraditing anyone.
We'll pick back up on yesterday's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with Senator Russ Feingold.
Senator Russ Feingold: I'm extremely pleased that we finally have a time table for ending our involvement in the war in Iraq. While I'm concerned that the redeployment is not being done as promptly as it should be, this will allow us to refocus on the global threat posed by al Qaeda. I remain convinced that foreign occupations are usually not a good strategy for combatting a global terrorist network. We need to find ways to relentlessly pursue al Qaeda while simelutaneously developing longterm partnerships with legitimate local actors and doing so through civilian diplomatic and development efforts that do not involve a massive military footprint. And now as we transition out of Iraq it is extremely important that we focus on making this an orderly withdraw and doing everything we can through diplomatic means to help promote the political reconciliation needed to bring lasting peace to Iraq. As to some questions, Ambassador, how do the Iraqi people feel about the redeployment of all US troops by the end of 2011 as required by the bi-lateral agreement? Is there any danger that any indication that we're backing away from that committment strong opposition.
Chris Hill: I think the-the dates of uh December 2011, uh August 2010, these were agreed with the Iraqi government and uh at the end of 2008. Uh I think any uh any uh indication that we were not prepared to live with these dates would be very poorly received by the -- by the Iraqi people. And indeed we saw this in the uh in the movement out of the cities June 30, 2009. Rememer we tried to discuss that in terms of nuances and the uh Iraqi media, the Iraqi public got concerned that somehow we were looking for ways not to accomplish that and we did exactly what we said we would do which is we pulled our people from the cities and I think it really has established a resevoir of trust that when you uh have an agreement with the -- with the Americans, you can take it to the bank. So I think uh it's very important to-to live up to these agreements and I think the Iraqi people, even though they do have great concerns about the security, I think they-they want to be responsible for their -- see their country responsible for their own security. As I said earlier, this will be -- these will be difficult moments ahead but uh these are -- these will be nonetheless Iraqi moments to handle and I think they will -- they will deal with this. We are dealing with uh very -- some very competent people, very intelligent people and they will know what to do.
Russ Feingold: Thank you for that answer. The Iraqi government intends to hold a nation-wide referendum on the bi-lateral Status Of Forces Agreement and while there's been a lot of speculation about how this could impact a redeployment timetable, I'd like to also point out that both the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people will have had a chance to vote on the agreement even though the US Senate has not. Can you assure us that any potential modifications to the Security Agreement will be submitted to the Senate for ratification?
Chris Hill: Uh, the issue of Senate ratification goes beyond my write but I will certainly take that question to the State Department and get you an official answer on that. I can give you my personal opinion on that.
Russ Feingold: Would you please?
Chris Hill: -- that you would not want to be changing this uh we would not engage in changing this security agreement without uh considerable consultation but as for the actual relationship between the Senate and the executive [branch] on this, I'd like to defer to our lawyers at the State Department.
First, Omar Fadhil al-Nidawi and Austin Bay (Wall St. Journal) report, "It's clear that Iraqi air defense forces will not be ready to handle the mission by 2011. Currently, the Iraqi Air Force is a creature of turbo-prop planes and helicopters. A squadron of high performance aircraft flown by Iraqi crack pilots is an expensive goal that might sortie over Baghdad by 2016 at best, though the Iraqi Ministry of Defense quietly estimates that 2018, or 2020, is more probable."
Could the White House extend the US presence beyong 2011 and would it require Senate approval to do so? "Yes" to the first and "no" to the second. Russ Feingold isn't suddenly interested in this issue. He was among those vocally decrying attempts to circumvent the Constitution by bypassing the Senate to form a treaty with Iraq. That was the Bush White House. Let's drop back to the April 10, 2008 snapshot where another Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing was covered:
Senator Russ Feingold wanted to know if there were "any conditions that the Iraq government must meet?" No, that thought never occurred to the White House. "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation," Feingold asked, "won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?" The two witnesses [David Satterfield (US State Department) and Mary Beth Long (US Defense Dept)] didn't appear to have heard that fact before. Feingold repeated and asked, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal" Satterfield feels the US and the agreement "will enjoy broad popular support" in Iraq. Satterfield kept saying the agreement wasn't binding. And Feingold pointed out, "The agreement will not bind the Congress either, if the Congress were to" pass a law overriding it which seemed to confuse Satterfield requiring that Feingold again point that out and ask him if "Congress passed a clear law overriding the agreement, would the law override the agreement." Satterfield felt the White House "would have to look carefully at it at the time" because "it would propose difficult questions for us."
"I would suggest," Feingold responded, "your difficulties are with the nature of our Constitution. If we pass a law overiding it . . . that's the law." The treaty and the efforts to bypass the Senate's advise & consent role was something that bothered senators on both sides of the aisle.
Feingold objected as did many Dems and, in the Senate, several Republicans. Barack Obama objected as well. Until he won the election. Then objections began vanishing. Now he operates under Bush's SOFA as opposed to doing any of the things he promised on the campaign trail. Can the White House extend US involvement in Iraq?
It was one of the two signers of the document. It can put forward a new agreement or can add years to the same agreement.
Does it need Senate approval to do so?
"No" would now appear to be the answer. Precedent would most likely apply here were the matter to go before the Supreme Court. The Court will sometimes provide a check on the Executive Branch; however, it generally looks for any way out of such a ruling. (The Court has no officers that enforce decisions -- among the reasons it tends to avoid stand-offs with the Executive Branch.) Allowing George W. Bush to put forward a treaty and refusing to overturn it when Barack was sworn in as president would most likely allow a wary Court to say a limited and limiting precedent --- applying solely to this SOFA document with Iraq -- was set by Bush's objections and the continuation of them under President Barack Obama. So Barack could bypass the Senate -- as Bush did -- in creating a new agreement or extending the current one. It's an issue Feingold always takes seriously. You'll note his chief online cheerleader, The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild, 'forgets' to document Feingold's line of questioning yesterday.
Meanwhile Fadhel al-Badrani, Suadad al-Salhy, Missy Ryan and Philippa Fletcher (Reuters) reported this morning that a riot has broken out at Abu Ghraib prison and someone has started a fire. BBC News adds that US helicopters and Iraqi troops were sent to the prison and: "Some Iraqi media said there had been fatalities, but [US] Master Sgt [Nicholas] Conner said the Iraqi authorities reported that three guards and three inmates had been injured." AFP quotes an unnamed prison officer stating, "A fire was declared on Friday afternoon following clashes between prisoners and wardens carrying out a search for banned substances and weapons." AP reports that a group of lawmakers met with prisoners to negotiate and cite Zeinab alKinani stating the bulk of the prisoners returned to the cells after given a promise that a committee would be created to explore prisoner amnesty. RTT states, 'One prisoner was killed and many others injured". Elsewhere, Wathiq Ibrahim and Tim Cocks (Reuters) report, were attacked at a Safara military checkpoint with 5 being shot dead.
In other reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Riyadh bombing which claimed 2 lives.
Reuters notes a Kirkuk shooting that injured one person, 1 person shot dead in Hawija and, dropping back to yesterday, six people were left wounded in a Kirkuk shooting.
The violence has immediate effects in terms of deaths and wounded. It also has impacts that often aren't noted. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Montior) reports that Black Wednesday (the August 19th bombings targeting the Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry primarily) also did damage to the Iraq Museum:"Showcases, windows, even the office of the director of excavations was damaged," says museum director Amira Eidan, interviewed on the sidelines of a Tourism Ministry conference on antiquities. She says it could be several years before the renowned institution can be opened to the public. "Is it the time to reopen the museum and show these treasures?" she asks. "After improving the security situation, then we can think about reopening."You may be thinking, "Reopen? I thought the museum opened in Februrary." They certainly did try to spin it that way but, check Feb. 23rd snapshot, it wasn't an opening, it was a ceremony for Nouri, dignitaries and, most of all, reporters. Back then, the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog was one of the few to offer reality, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." And it never opened.
Attempts are being made to close a camp in Iraq. Camp Ashraf is made up of Iranian dissidents belonging to the MEK who were given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein and have remained in Iraq for decades. Following the US invasion, the US military provided security for them and the US government labeled them "protected persons" under Geneva. Though Nouri 'promised' he wouldn't move against Camp Ashraf, but July 28th he launched an assault. Bill Bowder (UK's Church Times) reports, "The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the United States Ambassador in London to add his voice to protests outside the US embassy." Today Amnesty International released the following:
Amnesty International has written to the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki expressing its deep concern about killings and other abuses committed by Iraqi security forces at Camp Ashraf this summer.
On 28-29 July a large number of Iraqi security personnel seized control of Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a settlement that has been home to some 3,400 Iranian exiles for over 20 years. At least nine camp residents were shot dead and others sustained serious injuries during the storming of the camp, during which vehicles were driven into crowds of protesting residents and live ammunition used, apparently without adequate justification. Since July, 36 camp residents have been held without charge or trial.
In response, fears for the thousands of Iranian nationals - many with a long history of political opposition to the government of neighbouring Iran - have been raised by numerous supporters around the world. There have been protests around the world, including a long-running vigil and hunger strike outside the US embassy in London. Protestors say the withdrawal of US forces to military bases in Iraq earlier this year has left Camp Ashraf residents newly vulnerable to Iraqi security forces, a concern shared by Amnesty.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'There are numerous reports - including shocking images - of the Iraq security forces using what appears to be grossly excessive force in their seizure of Camp Ashraf and this must be properly investigated. So must reports that detainees have been abused in detention
'The fear now is that Iraq may force Camp Ashraf residents to return to Iran, where they could face imprisonment or torture. No vulnerable residents of Camp Ashraf must face this fate.'
Amnesty has made clear to both the Iraqi and US governments that it strongly opposes any forcible returns, either of those at Camp Ashraf or of other Iranian nationals who currently reside in Iraq having left Iran for political reasons or to escape persecution. In its letter to prime minister al-Maliki, Amnesty urges him to immediately establish a full and independent investigation into the methods used by Iraqi security forces during the Camp Ashraf operation, making its findings public as soon as possible. Amnesty also urged him to ensure that members of the security forces and other officials found responsible for using excessive force and of committing serious human rights violations are immediately suspended from duty and promptly brought to justice.
Meanwhile Amnesty has expressed particular concern over the fate of the 36 detained men, not least as there are allegations that they have been beaten and otherwise ill-treated. They are currently held at a police station in al-Khalis - a town some 15 miles from Camp Ashraf -- where they are reported to be in poor health and to be maintaining a hunger strike in protest at their detention and ill-treatment.
On 24 August an Iraqi investigative judge ordered the release of the 36 on the grounds that they had no charges to answer, but local police refused to release them, in breach of Iraqi law. A public prosecutor in Baquba, Diyala province, is then reported to have appealed against the investigative judge's release order, apparently as a means of justifying their continued detention, and the appeal is now awaiting determination by the Court of Cassation.
In its letter Amnesty urged the Iraq prime minister to intervene and ensure that the 36 detainees are released immediately and unconditionally unless they are to face recognisably criminal charges and brought to trial fairly and promptly. Amnesty also urged Mr al-Maliki to order an investigation into the failure by police at al-Khalis to comply with the judge's order for the release of the 36 and to ensure that any police officers responsible for unlawful detentions are held to account.
John Hughes (Deseret News) adds, "An Iraqi judge ruled that the 36 dissidents, who went on a hunger strike in captivity, should be released. But Iraqi Interior Ministry officials, using new tactics, have argued that the dissidents entered the country illegally and should be expelled -- obviously to Iran. If this tactic is successful, it could be applied to the 3,400 or so PMOI members remaining in Camp Ashraf." So the Iraqi court rules that prisoners should be released and the Iraqi government decides they don't have to listen. Maybe from the US. After all the US military grabbed Reuters reporter Ibrahim Jassim in September 2008 and refuse to release him. In November 2008, Iraqi courts decided Ibrahim should be set free but the US ignored the court order and has continued to imprison Ibrahim.
At On The Wilderside, Ian Wilder calls out United for Pathetic and Juvenile and CodeStink for "trotting out Tom Hayden as an anti-war spoeksperson. Hello? Everyone forget that Hayden told everyone to vote for the pro-war Obama. [. . .] How about Hayden sign a petition saying he will never vote for (or promote) a pro-war candidate?" It's actually worse than Ian writes. Tom-Tom didn't just tell people to vote for Barack, Tom-Tom ridiculed those who didn't. For example, Tom-Tom gave an interview to the Rocky Mountain News where he mocked and sneered at Chris Hedges because Hedges would not support Barack (Chris Hedges supported Ralph Nader). It wasn't just Tom Hayden telling people to vote for Barack, he also attacked those who voted for Ralph or Cynthia McKinney. Tom's a total tool and that's why he has the blood of Palestinians on his hands. (His one late-in-life column admitting guilt did not absolve him.) Ian Wilder's point is very clear: He's a Green and he's stating that the two organizations asking for Green support picked the wrong person to 'reach out' with due to Tom's behaivor. As always Carl Davidson shows up and Kimberly Wilder attempts to explain what Ian was doing. Kimberly's wasting her time. Carl knew what Ian was doing, Carl didn't care. It's the same crap Carl pulls with Paul Street. Carl insists that UPFJ endorses no candidates -- he apparently missed the UPFJ homepage in November. Or, more likely, it didn't register because The Old Whore Carl was a Barack supporter -- he was, in fact, sending out e-mails in 2007 stating "we" need to support Barack because of Barack's 'radical' roots. (Carl was among those whispering Barack was a Socialist or a Communist to drum up support for Barack in the very juvenile game of telephone that had the fringes rooting for Barry O early on.) [As I have stated here repeatedly beginning in 2007 when Carl and others spread those false rumors, Barack is a Corporatist War Hawk, he is not a Socialist, he is not a Communist.] We'll note Ian's response to Carl in full:
I am speaking for myself as an individual Green, and as a peace activist who was [. . .] against the Afghan War since the first day we started bombing.
I am tired of supporting organizations that don't support me. How about supposed anti-war organizations stop sending messages out from Democrats who support a pro-war President? How about they stop going underground every time a Democrat runs for President?
UPFJ and Code Pink have not been friends. They have wanted Green Party bodies and dollars, but not our voices. We will not stop these wars until the peace movement is ready to directly confront the politicians, Democrat and Republican. And that includes confronting them on the campaign trail and in the voting booth.
Caro of Make Them Accountable notes the analysis of ObamaInsuranceCompanyCare by Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque): "But of course there will be no reform, and there was never going to be. Obama is going to 'reform' America's broken health care system the same way he has 'reformed' the War on Terror and 'reformed' Wall Street: by taking the existing policies and making them even worse."
Today is the anniversary of 9-11. We'll note it by including this from international law professor Francis A. Boyle "O'Reilly and the Law of the Jungle" (ZNet):
On the morning of 13 September 2001, that is 48 hours after the terrible tragedies in New York and Washington , D.C. on September 11th, I received telephone call from a producer at Fox Television Network News in New York City . He asked me to go onto The O'Reilly Factor TV program live that evening in order to debate Bill O'Reilly on the question of war versus peace. O'Reilly would argue for the United States going to war in reaction to the terrorist attacks on 11 September, and I would argue for a peaceful resolution of this matter.
Up until then I had deliberately declined numerous requests for interviews about the terrible events of September 11 and what should be done about them because it was not clear to me precisely what was going on. But unfortunately The O'Reilly Factor had the Number One ranking in TV viewership for any news media talk program in America . I felt very strongly as a matter of principle that at least one person from the American Peace Movement had to go onto that program and argue the case directly to the American people that the United States of America must not go to war despite the terrible tragedy that had been inflicted upon us all.
I had debated O'Reilly before so I was fully aware of the type of abuse to expect from him. So for the next few hours I negotiated with O'Reilly through his producer as to the terms and conditions of my appearance and our debate, which they agreed to. At the time I did not realize that O'Reilly was setting me up to be fired as he would next successfully do to Professor Sami Al-Arian soon after debating me.
After our debate had concluded, I returned from the campus television studio to my office in order to shut the computer down, and then go home for what little remained of the evening. When I arrived in my office, I found that my voice mail message system had been flooded with mean, nasty, vicious complaints and threats. The same was true for my e-mail in-box. I deleted all these messages as best I could, and then finally went home to watch the rest of O'Reilly's 9/11 coverage that evening on Fox with my wife. By then he was replaying selected segments of our debate and asking for hostile commentaries from Newt Gingrich and Jeane Kirkpatrick. We turned off the TV in disgust when O'Reilly publicly accused me of being an Al Qaeda supporter. My understanding was that Fox then continued to rebroadcast a tape of this outright character assassination upon me for the rest of the night.
Click here to read the rest. Music notes, Tuesday, October 27th, Carly Simon's latest album, Never Been Gone, is released. Carly's recording two new compositions and doing new arrangements (mainly acoustic) of previous songs including her Academy Award winning, Golden Globe winning and Grammy winning "Let The River Run" -- she's made the new version available as a free download currently. TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight:In rural Rwanda, the simple and time-tested idea of medical house calls is not only improving the health of the community, but stimulating its economy as well.This week, NOW travels to the village of Rwinkwavu to meet the Rwandan doctors, nurses and villagers who are teaming up with Boston-based Partners in Health and the Rwandan government to deliver medicine and medical counseling door-to-door. Would such an innovation work in America?In the capital of Kigali, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to talk about international aid and Kagame's ultimate vision for a healthy, financially-independent Rwanda.Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen tonight are Charlie Babington (AP), Peter Baker (New York Times), Joan Biskupic (USA Today) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times). Remember that there is a web bonus each week that you can grab on podcast (video -- they also have audio podcast but it doesn't include the bonus) or wait for Monday morning when the bonus is available at the website. Also, a PBS friend asks that I note that they didn't just redesign their website at Washington Week, they added many new elements. One sidebar is on the right and it contains links to the latest writing by Washington Week regulars such as CBS and Slate's John Dickerson's article on health care at Slate. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with four women to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Online, they address the announcement that Diane Sawyer will begin anchoring ABC's World News Tonight next year. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
President Obama Steve Kroft interviews the president at an important time in his presidency.
Big Teddy His son, Ted Kennedy, Jr., and the editor/publisher he collaborated closely with on his memoir, Jonathan Karp, reflect on the life and legacy of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Lesley Stahl reports.
Guiding Light Morley Safer interviews the actors and writers behind broadcasting's longest running drama, "Guiding Light," as they celebrate the soap opera's incredible run and discuss its cancellation after 72 years.
60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
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