Friday, October 28, 2005


Mike and I picked the two items from Democracy Now! and I said that if I could grab time, I'd blog on them. Mike noted that at his site and since he did, I'm putting them up here but it's too late for me to offer commentary. Consider it things worth knowing about and check out Mike's commentary at Mikey Likes It!

Over 1500 Events Held To Mark 2,000 U.S. Deaths in Iraq (Democracy Now!)
The Village Voice is reporting over 1500 events took place across the country Wednesday to commemorate the death of 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In Washington, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and 25 others were arrested for demonstrating without a permit in front of the White House. The protesters lay on the ground in a “die-in” to symbolize the US soldiers killed in Iraq. In New York, several hundred flooded the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square with shouts of "Bush lied, 2,000 died."

Renewed Patriot Act to Alter Death Penalty Rules (Democracy Now!)
The Washington Post is reporting the House bill that would renew the USA Patriot Act includes little-noticed provisions that would dramatically alter the federal death penalty system. The bill allows for smaller juries to decide on executions and grants prosecutors the right to re-try suspects if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty. The Justice Department has already endorsed the provisions. Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch, told the Post : "These are radical changes in the way federal death penalty cases are litigated, and they were added virtually without any debate."

This next item is especially important and Mike and I both agreed that C.I. had covered it well this morning and, if I blogged, I'd note C.I.'s commentary.

Govt. Ordered to Notify Prison Lawyers on Force Feedings (Democracy Now!)
Lawyers for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay won a federal court order Wednesday mandating the government to provide them with clients' medical records and to notify them before their clients are subjected to involuntary force feedings. As Democracy Now reported last week, scores of hunger-striking detainees have been force-fed with tubes up their noses at the U.S. military prison.

NYT: 'Striking Guantanamo Detainees Gain in Ruling'" (Neil A. Lewis) [The Common Ills]
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Bush administration and the military to provide information to defense lawyers about the condition of detainees at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba who are participating in a hunger strike.

The judge, Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court, acted on a petition brought by lawyers for a handful of detainees from Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan who say they have been forcibly and sometimes brutally fed by tubes placed through their noses.
[. . .]
Julia Tarver, a lawyer for three of the detainees, asserted in court papers that when she visited her clients she found them weak and sometimes able to speak only with difficulty because of throat lesions they said were caused by having the feeding tubes forced in. Ms. Tarver said one detainee, Yousef Al-Shehri, told her that a feeding tube had been roughly inserted through his nose into his throat, causing him to spit up blood.
The above is from Neil A. Lewis' "Striking Guantanamo Detainees Gain in Ruling" in this morning's New York Times.
As has been noted on Law & Disorder and Democracy Now!, you're talking about prisoners who've been held for years, with no trial and little hope of getting out. This is their way of protesting and taking action when no other action is left to them. We could do something about it (other than force feeding) but that would mean living by the prinicples our nation's supposed to stand for.
Instead, we lock people away without a trial and no hope of release. Then when they take one of the only stands left for them to take, we further the indignity by force feeding them. (After denying for months that a hunger strike was even going on.) What will future generations think when they look back on this?
America, the supposed nation of rule of law, detained, imprisoned people with no trials (including children under the age of eighteen) and left them there. Kept them there with no end in sight. Threw out the Constitution because, the administration argues, it doesn't apply to Guantanamo.
Nothing applies to Guantanamo, it's not part of the United States. If you buy that argument (I don't), what of the people working at Guantanamo? Are they not part of the United States? Are they not bound by the laws and principles of this country?
Let's note Amy Goodman's interview with Janis Kaprinski from yesterday's Democracy Now!:
JANIS KARPINSKI: The only person that I spoke to individually after General Miller's visit -- briefing, his in-brief, that initial briefing, I went to find the JAG officer, the legal officer, lawyer, who was with General Miller, and she was -- I believe she was a major and she had been working down at Guantanamo Bay. So, I asked her, I said, "What are you doing about releasing the prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay?" And she said, "Ma'am, we're not releasing prisoners. Most of those prisoners are going to spend every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay. They're terrorists. We're not releasing them." And I said, "Well, what are you going to do? Fly their family members over to visit them?" She said "No, these are terrorists, ma'am. They don't get visits from home." And that was -- that was absolutely shocking, thinking about the fate of these, what we believed was, several hundred prisoners down there, 680 prisoners spending every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay, and particularly important because that meant that military police would be guarding them for the foreseeable future.
There's a little truth that doesn't make the news, mainstream. "We're not releasing prisoners."
Are we really surprised that after several years with nothing, no trial, no end in sight, that people would decide that a hunger strike that could result in death was the last act open to them?
If you missed the interview, you can watch, read or listen to it online at Democracy Now!