Archive for the ‘Bush regime’ Category

Averting your eyes?

February 29, 2012

“Then force entered in; might making right; power and its tool, violence, and its most devoted ally, the averted eye.”*

There is so much injustice in US society that to catalogue it all would take pages. Yesterday’s Don’t Suppress OWS event focused on that directed toward the peaceful protestors of the Occupy Movement, who had brought to national attention the staggering economic equality that exists in this country.

All the injustices are connected. The police state at home, the wars and brutality here and abroad, the devastation of the planet, the abrogation of rights, and on and on.

Are you averting your eyes? I know that some people are not. They act in some way to stop the madness that reigns in this society. Some give money to support things like yesterday’s action. If you didn’t, you still can here or go to the event website where on the right hand side there is an address where you can send a check . If you prefer other organizations or issues, there are lots of places to make a difference with your contribution. Find one and give what you can. Then you will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people go to the streets. If you haven’t ever done that, you are missing an experience not like any other. Do it now. Then you and others will know you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Some people organize protest at all levels. There is so much work to be done at computer terminals, in meetings, in courtrooms, on the streets. Find an organization and do something to help it. Then you will know that you are not averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

Failure to do something, to act, is averting your eyes and allying yourself with violence.

I am profoundly grateful for all the people on this planet who are working wherever they are to stop violence and injustice. I know that we are all connected in a vast web. I call on everyone who has not yet taken action to join us. We have right on our side. We will be able to answer our own consciences when we are asked how we could have lived in this time and allowed these horrors to happen with the true reply that we worked to stop them.

*From Ursula Le Quin’s The Dispossessed, Harper Voyager 2011,p.256 p.

We Must Close Guantanamo and Stop Torture

February 15, 2012

We have always known at some level of consciousness from the opening of the prison at Guantanamo, but since the release of some of the prisoners we know for sure that the US tortures them.  Below are damning sections of a report by Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and fierce advocate for human rights:

“Although the Convention Against Torture, a treaty the United States has ratified, forbids the use of coercion under any circumstances to obtain information, prisoners released from Guantánamo have detailed assaults, prolonged shackling in uncomfortable positions, sexual abuse, and threats with dogs.  Mustafa Ait Idr, an Algerian citizen who was living in Bosnia when he was sent to Guantánamo, charged that U.S. military guards jumped on his head, resulting in a stroke that paralyzed his face. They also broke several of his fingers and nearly drowned him in a toilet. Mohammed Sagheer, a Pakistani cleric, claimed the wardens at Guantánamo used drugs “that made us senseless.” French citizen Mourad Benchellali, released from Guantánamo in July 2004, said, “I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference.”  Benchellali added, “There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty.”

Prisoners kneeling in the sun

“Australian lawyer Richard Bourke, who has represented many of the men incarcerated at Guantánamo, charged that prisoners have been subjected to “good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages.” According to Bourke, “One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed.” Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, an Afghan who was released from Guantánamo in April 2005, said he suffered “indescribable torture” there.

“U.S. and international bodies have verified reports of torture and abuse.  Physicians for Human Rights found that “the United States has been engaged in systematic psychological torture of Guantánamo detainees” at least since 2002. FBI agents saw female interrogators forcibly squeeze male prisoners’ genitals and witnessed detainees stripped and shackled low to the floor for many hours. In February 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Commission reported that the violent force-feeding of detainees by the U.S. military at Guantánamo amounts to torture.”

Read the entire article here.

Will you turn away from these horrors or take responsibility and work to stop them?  I hold citizenship in a country that tortures people.  I cannot act as though this does not concern me. I join with others to protest and demand the end to torture by the US.

Lena spoke with old friends in France recently when she was there.  She said that they had seen news reports on that country’s media about the protest in Washington, DC on the anniversary of the opening of the torture camp at Guantanamo in January.  The US media, handmaidens of the ruling elite here, did not cover that event.  It is up to us to make these crimes against humanity by the US known and to resist them.

Ed Reports on Washington Action

January 18, 2012

World Can’t Wait Contingent from NYC just off the bus, Ed is on the front row far left, camera in hand, ready to go!

So, I went down to our nation’s capital (second time, since High School field trip in ’84) to cover the 10th Anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and it was a pretty eye-opening experience.  Didn’t know too much about it, as our press doesn’t cover it, for obvious reasons:  There are innocent (our government even admits they’re innocent) people being tortured and detained in GITMO – being held there with no habeas corpus rights, no evidence, no trial – nothing.  And to make matters worse, Obama just signed a law, stating that the Federal Govt. now has the right to do this to American Citizens!  Isn’t this supposed to be a free country?  Why does the press not cover this and why is every single attorney and citizen not up in arms about this?  Gotta wonder.  Well, all walks of American life were out there in the rain letting their voices be heard, and here’s the footage…

Click here for Guantanamo Bay Protest in DC, January 11, 2012

Still from the video of Street Theater Before the Big March

and here for GITMO Spoken Word and Dance Protest

CCR Advocate about to read a poem by one of the Prisoners

and here for Andy Worthington and Other Protesters at Supreme Court

Other film stills showing people of all ages who participated

Ed’s Film of Andy on the Steps of the Supreme Court

January 16, 2012

Since there is precious little coverage of the protest last Wednesday, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the torture camp at Guantanamo, it is especially important for me to share the film Ed Haas made of the event.  Here is a link to remarks by Andy Worthington foremost authority on the prisoners at Guantanamo, from the steps of the Supreme Court Building.

Andy Worthington

See Andy’s new website here.

The Prisoners Know

January 13, 2012

Word came today from Andy Worthington that the prisoners at Guantanamo know that there will be protests in Washington and other cities in the US and around the world to close Guantanamo tomorrow, January 11, the beginning of the 11th year of that torture camp.  They are going to protest also.

If they, who risk very serious repercussions indeed, are willing to protest, let us all make an effort.  If you cannot be at one of the planned actions, you can make a sign on a sheet of paper saying CLOSE QUANTANAMO NOW! and pin it to your clothes or hang it around your neck.

These prisoners, only a few of whom may have used violence against the US, have endured enough and the prison is a great disgrace to the US.  We can demand it be shut down.

Will you do that now?

My next report will be when I get back from Washington.

Drone on 53rd Street

December 31, 2011

As I turned the corner from Fifth Avenue, I could see it hovering in the middle of the block, an eyeless drone, blind and lethal.

What I really saw was the replica of a reaper drone created by Nick Mottern, being used in a protest in front of the Museum of Modern Art of these weapons that bring death to thousands of people whom the US targets.  I hurried along, fearing I was late.  It turned out that the installation of this high tech replica required a lot of time.

Drone replica at protest in DC earlier

When he had finished setting up, Nick made it possible for passersby to see themselves on computer monitors in the sights of his model drone, which is equipped with a camera that streamed to the monitors.  This is how the real ones work, but the people it targets are often on the other side of the globe, in Pakistan and Afghanistan for example, from the arm chair pilots in Arizona and Nevada and other sites in the US.

Also, Nick’s drone was not far off the earth, so we could easily recognize ourselves, whereas the images that determine when the pilots launch the drones’ lethal weapons are not so close and people are not distinct.  The result is many deaths by drone of people who are just going about their lives unsuspectingly.

The event I participated in was organized by the World Can’t Wait and the site was chosen to coincide with the exhibit in the museum of artist Harun Farocki’s Images of War (At A Distance).  You can read about it here.

We were on the street handing out flyers about drones and talking with people.  As Nick interviewed people who stopped by, a filmmaker shot footage.  The rest of us also engaged when we could with people who stopped.

It was Friday afternoon when the Museum of Modern Art offers free entry and huge crowds made it hard to step back and get a really good look at the replica drone and hard to connect the scene of the computer monitors with the overhead drone at first.  Even so, we passed out nearly five hundred flyers in the time we were there, and a number of people stopped long enough to get the full picture.

Some of the people I spoke with were, not surprisingly since they had come to the Farocki exhibit, well acquainted with the horrors of drone warfare and the insidious nature of its expansion during the current regime.  Often they thanked us for this action.  A few people who stopped did not know much about drones and were interested in what we had to say.  Some young men had been in military recruiting centers where video war games are offered to the young to entice them to join.  I found their attitudes complex and reflected on the subtleties of US corporate media and entertainment in the ubiquitous US propaganda campaigns of the last few decades. I am saving those reflections for a separate post, but note the issue here.

Nick Mottern, the creator of these replicas, told me that he made the first one after writing an article for TruthOut.org “Calling Them Out: War Profiteer Steven R. Loranger” about the CEO of ITT which manufactures the bomb releases for the drones.  He decided to protest at Loranger’s house in Connecticut and that a model drone would enhance such an action.  One thing led to another, as he conceded to me in talking about the origins of these replicas, and the result is the high tech model that he contributed to our action yesterday.

Nick is a journalist with a great many other skills.  It was especially good to have met him and watched him in action as a journalist making the documentary as well.

In speaking with people, Nick said frequently that he wanted to see these weapons banned internationally.  Me, too.  I also want to see media reporting the truth about them and a more informed public willing to act to stop the wars and crimes and human rights violations of its government.

Torture Still Goes On

December 12, 2011

Jeffrey Kaye in The Public Record of Dec 8th, 2011 quotes Diane Feinstien:

“As chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, I can say that we are nearing the completion [of] a comprehensive review of the CIA’s former interrogation and detention program, and I can assure the Senate and the Nation that coercive and abusive treatment of detainees in U.S. custody was far more systematic and widespread than we thought.

“Moreover, the abuse stemmed not from the isolated acts of a few bad apples but from fact that the line was blurred between what is permissible and impermissible conduct, putting U.S. personnel in an untenable position with their superiors and the law.”

This testimony by Senator Diane Feinstein concludes with more obfuscating language, but this part is at least clear and direct.   Kaye continues:

“One reason for the lulled non-murmur over torture is the outrageous lie that Obama, after coming into office, ‘ended torture.’  He enshrined the Army Field Manual as the supposedly humane alternative to the Bush torture regime of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ Feinstein, who certainly knows better, is an exemplary model for such myth-making — ‘myth’ because the Army Field Manual actually uses torture of various sorts, and even though about half-a-dozen human rights and legal organizations, and a number of prominent government interrogators have said so in a Nov. 2010 letter signed by 14 well-known interrogators to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates..” Feinstein clearly knows this and,  as Kaye shows in the rest of the article, but she still claims that the AFM and other guidelines are enough without secret documents.  What she fails to say is that they allow torture openly.

He states that he does not expect Feinstein to respond to questions he has about US torture methods.  He continues:

“Instead I ask readers, what kind of a country is it that has torture written into its public documents, and no one raises a fuss (or practically no one)?

“The failure to take on the AFM [Army Field Manual]and its Appendix M abuses in a serious fashion has led in a straight line to the political pornography of watching torture debated in Congress and among Presidential candidates, as well as a surge of political effort being made in some circles to make sure all such abuse is hidden forever behind a veil of classification. This failure is directly the responsibility of the human rights groups, who have not made it clear to their constituencies and the public at large how serious the problem currently is. While most of them are on the record of opposing the abuses described above, they repeatedly have pulled their punches for political reasons (as during the recent debate on the Ayotte amendment), and as a result, they must take the hard criticism when it comes, until, or unless they turn this around.”

I ask why we as citizens depend on the “human rights groups” who don’t do what they can for “political reasons.”  Such groups are not worth supporting.  What can we do directly as citizens?  Are we among those who have let US torture go unchallenged?  What can we do to resist torture by the US government right now?

US Reaps What It Has Sown

December 2, 2011

I just read a BBC story that a seventy year old US “aid expert” was kidnapped in August by armed men in Lahore Pakistan and continues to be held, and that the current head of al Qaeda has said he is being held “in retaliation.”

US Aid Expert Warren Weinstein

“‘Just as the Americans detain whomever they suspect may be connected to al-Qaeda or the Taliban even in the slightest of ways, we have detained this man who has been involved with US aid to Pakistan since the 1970s,’ Zawahiri said in the 31-minute video.

“He also demanded that America stop air strikes on Somalia and Yemen, according to a US monitoring group, Site Intelligence.”

My heart goes out to Mr Weinstein and his family.  I am also very afraid for his conditions of imprisonment there, and in no small part because of what the US has done and continues to do to aid workers and other completely innocent people at Guantanamo and in its other black sites.  My own values do not condone retaliation; the eye for an eye concept has not historically achieved desirable results, nor does it fit with my ideas about the way all human beings should be respected in and for themselves.  I can, however, understand that people could want to retaliate against US crimes against humanity.

One of the grisliest stories at Guantanamo is about Shaker Aamer, a British resident with a British wife and children, who was engaged in humanitarian and educational work in Afghanistan at the time of the US invasion.  Andy Worthington reported on 24 November of this year about his deteriorating condition and said,he  “remains held, exactly ten years since he was first seized, even though he was notified that he had been cleared for release in 2007, and even though successive British governments have requested his return to the UK.”

Worthington further reports there that Aamer, an English speaker and greatly humanitarian person was a “foremost advocate” for his fellow prisoners.  He “was tortured to within an inch of his life” during the same night that three prisoners died   Shaker Aamer is held in complete solitary confinement since that  incident reported as three “suicides” at the torture camp by US authorities, but which lawyer/writer Scott Horton has shown could not have been suicides. Military guards at the camp who later spoke with Horton suggest the three men were tortured to death.

Like so many of the nearly 800 men and boys who ended up in Guantanamo, Aamer was swept up in Dick Cheney’s indiscriminate drag net to catch enough people to populate the Guantanamo torture camp that had already been built and which was likely to go empty otherwise after he let the military president of Pakistan airlift probable al Qaeda and other leaders out of Kunduz.  Cheney had to fill up the camp and anybody, especially Arab Muslims living in Afghanistan were the primary targets of his dragnet.

Torture still goes on at Guantanamo.  Indefinite, extra-judicial imprisonment of people is against international law, and unless the current bill in Congress passes, is also illegal under US law.  Whether the US “law” changes or not, such treatment of people clearly does not adhere to international legal standards.

The BBC article mentions the capture and beheading of Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl, a horrific crime, to be sure .  It does not, however, make any reference to the kidnapping and torture by the US of many people, not just the 779 in Guantanamo, but the thousands more in Bagram and black sites all over the world.

As it has sown, the US now reaps.  People will not infinitely allow themselves to be attacked by drones, their countries ravaged by US wars of aggression, their people victims of US crimes against humanity.

The US must take the first step by stopping all aggression, closing all the prisons abroad and releasing the prisoners, withdrawing its military personnel from its bases all over the world, closing the bases and returning the property to the countries where they are located, stopping all drone and other air wars, and making amends to the world.  Only in this way, can US citizens begin to be free and safe in the world.

More Evidence, If Any Were Needed

October 30, 2011

Speaking at a human rights conference at Bard College, retired US air force colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay torture camp who resigned in protest, described the interrogation of prisoners as torture.

Retired Colonel Morris Davis

As reported by the Guardian today, Davis said that military personnel had been ordered to use unlawful procedures by civilian politicians.

Ultimately, he resigned and has spoken out against these practices.  It is worthy of noting that military personnel have also spoken with Scott Horton, the lawyer and journalist who broke the story of the “suicides” at the torture camp which could not possibly have been suicides.

Davis, who had been judge advocate for the US Air Force and is an expert on the law of war, is now the executive director and counsel for the Crimes of War project based in Washington.  He challenges not only the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and other US black sites, but the notion of a “war on terror.”

The conference at Bard College was organized because the 10th anniversary of Bush’s executive order to establish military commissions to try terrorist suspects is November 13th.

Ten years of this torture is enough.  No More Torture is my cry.

Said al-Busayss: Cleared But Still Imprisoned

October 25, 2011

Said al-Busayss, from Yemen, went in 2000 to Afghanistan to help the Taliban government defend itself from the contast attack by other warlords in the country in the ongoing conflicts.  He was trained there and sent to the front lines.

When the US invaded,  Said al-Busayss was given the option of staying or escaping to Pakistan and he decided on the latter.  He gave up his weapon there and was arrested, no doubt sold to the US for bounty really, by the border authorities.

Again and again, it is necessary to repeat that there is no evidence Said al-Busayss ever fought against the US, who were after all the invaders in this country.  There is no evidence that he did any harm to the US in any way at any time.  At the end of the conflict with the US, even if he had been fighting agaisnt it, he should have been released.  And, of course, he should not have been tortured, but treated humanely.

Instead, Said al-Busayss has been tortured, sent half way around the world and kept in the Guantanamo torture camp, even though he was cleared at a military hearing at the prison there during the Bush regime. Many other prisoners like him have long since gone home, but Said al-Busayss is till in prison.  He must be released and indemnified.