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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security

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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security  

…The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement criticizing the ruling:

“Today is a sad day for the rule of law and for those who believe that the courts should protect American citizens from torture by their own government,” said ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner, who argued the appeal in court. “By dismissing this lawsuit, the appeals court handed the government a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This impunity is not only anathema to a democracy governed by laws, but contrary to history’s lesson that in times of fear our values are a strength, not a hindrance.”……………

Written by laudyms

January 31, 2012 at 8:41 am

“Bradley Manning celebrating the soul-stirring awesomeness of the Fourth of July”

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No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
Frederick Douglass

Let’s Drink to the Slobbering Classes: Joe Bageant 1946-2011

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Americans who get no respect today are like those who 

built this country. Mostly used and tossed aside.

“When you’re easily replaced and are devalued you no longer  pretend to have a choice. To feed your family you work harder and for less and without benefits. You eat shit and you ask for seconds. Eating shit eventually makes you bitter and resentful of anyone who does not appear to be eating their share of shit. So you feel that anyone else who gets a break, especially a government-assisted leg up is cheating you. From resentment it is only a short skip to hatred and the illogical behavior that comes with hatred. Like voting Republican against your own best interests.”

April 12, 2005            by Joe Bageant

Let’s Drink to the Slobbering Classes

A sordid tale of work release, hyenas and liberal weakness

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead
— “Salt of the Earth,” The Rolling Stones

I stopped into Larry’s Gas ‘n Grubs for my regular morning commuter coffee mug refill and lo and be damned! There was my hirsute 300-pound friend Poot working at the counter. I said, “What the hell are you doing ringing up my coffee at this crap stand? You’re supposed to be a welder, fat boy!”

It turns out that Poot, who’d lost his job with a metal fabricator, took on a little private contracting work. However, he couldn’t afford to get his contractor’s license and was busted for working without one. And got thrown in jail for it too. Somehow I would have thought it was a lesser offense than that.

Now he is on jail work release to work at Larry’s Gas ‘n Grubs, an area 6-location chain of convenience stores that regularly hires work release labor at super cheap rates. By court order Poot must work there at least until August and pay the great state of Virginia a big chunk of his wages for the privilege. This represents nothing less than chattel slavery under the local judicial system, impressments of the same sort as have always been practiced on blacks and poor whites here in the slave states. Throw them in jail, and then farm them out on work release to local industry and businesses in cahoots politically with local law officials and courts. In fact, in a new twist on the game, the masters of our little Virginia banana republic brought in a huge regional jail. It is now a provider of cheap local work release labor, even as the taxpayers foot the bill for housing and feeding the jailbirds, and the jailbirds seldom return to their hometowns up nawth, choosing instead to shack up with the fetching local wenches. You Yankees have no idea what Bush’s election has kicked off in the American South. Our congenital penchant for punishment and press gang labor has ushered in a new era of prison building unseen since the days of Uncle Joe Stalin. Down here we know what to do with uncooperative folks like the hapless Pootie and the dope fiends our prison industry imports in from seven other states: Lock ’em the fuck up and make a profit on ’em. Rehabilitation, Republican style.

But getting back to Poot. When crap happens to working people, it’s usually a domino line of crap. It is bad enough that Poot lost his apartment when he landed in the hoosegow, and will have to find a new one in August, along with a new job, unless he decides to starve to death by remaining at Gas ‘n Grubs. He also lost his truck along the way. I am almost willing to bet that his life will never recover from this setback. Meanwhile, something even worse has come of this run-in with American penology’s gulag system of white trash labor: By court order Poot cannot set foot in Burt’s Tavern until August. He may not survive such a blow.

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Zogby- Politics and Nonsense on Egypt

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The narcissism of both the US and Israel has never been more complete or more anti-democratic.  Everything has got to be all-about-us, all the time.

When the Dust Settles, US Policies Will Remain the Same

By JAMES ZOGBY Counterpunch Feb 11, 2011

When US politicians are forced to discuss critical Middle East matters, more often than not their remarks either display an ignorance of facts, are shaped more by political needs than reality, or are just plain dumb. Commentary about the popular revolt in Egypt provides a case in point.

There was no doubt that the events in Cairo were momentous and, therefore, deserving of response. In the case of most US political leaders, however, struggling to come up with the right TV sound bite didn’t require actually knowing anything about Egypt. All that was needed was to frame the issue through either the prism of partisanship or that of unbending loyalty to Israel. The result was a string of comments, some bizarre, others dangerous.

The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, cornered the market on incoherence and contradiction when she observed that “Mr Mubarak should… immediately schedule legitimate, democratic, internationally recognised elections,” adding however that “the US should learn from past mistakes and support a process which includes candidates who meet basic standards for leaders of responsible nations — candidates who have publicly renounced terrorism, uphold the rule of law, [and] recognise Egypt’s… peace agreement with the Jewish state of Israel.”

In other words, Ros-Lehtinen supports a democracy where we (not they) set up the criteria. Not quite “respect for the will of the people,” but still better than former Republican speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s partisan tirade.

Gingrich, who is reported to be considering a presidential run, is shallow and remarkably uninformed about most Middle East issues. He gets by largely because he sounds so authoritative and always has a clever quip or two. In Gingrich’s assessment of the current situation, “there’s a real possibility in a few weeks… that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily dangerous to us.”

Having thus displayed almost no understanding of the Middle East, Gingrich goes on to ridicule US President Barack Obama’s “naiveté”, charging that Obama “went to Cairo and gave his famous speech in which he explained that we should all be friends together because we’re all the same… and there are no differences between us. Well, I think there are a lot of differences between the Muslim Brotherhood and the rest of us.”

Gingrich’s parting shot was to state that the US administration “doesn’t have a clue”. Then, in order to demonstrate that he does, Gingrich offered this “advice” to Obama: “study Reagan and Carter and do what Reagan did and avoid what Carter did.”

If the need to take a partisan shot is central to some, more important for others, both Democrats and Republicans, is the need to make this all about Israel. Presidential aspirant and former governor Mike Huckabee, for example, used the occasion of the Egyptian uprising to make his 15th trip to Israel where he lamented that “the Israelis feel alone… and they cannot depend upon the United States, because they just don’t have confidence that the US will stand with them.”

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We must abandon the language of war

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First, the Wehrmacht. Then, the Red Army. Now, al-Qaeda. Thus were a few thousand lightly armed religious fanatics transformed into the equivalent of a military force that very nearly conquered civilization and another that could have annihilated it in less time than it takes to watch a sit-com.

 

By Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen December 8, 2010

On Sept. 12, 2001, George W. Bush said something he had avoided saying the day before. “The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror,” he told reporters. “They were acts of war.”

The decision to frame the response to 9-11 as a “war” was a fateful one. Before that moment, western democracies would never have sent their soldiers to fight endless battles in distant and obscure deserts.

Imprisonment without charge or trial would never have been advocated by leading politicians. Torture would never have been supported by much of the population. And calls for the assassination of a man who leaked documents would never have been heard from leading journalists. It was George W. Bush’s statement on Sept. 12, 2001, that made all this possible.

“We are at war,” wrote the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer last week. “A hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Oregon, are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and executed. (Julian) Assange has done more damage to the United States than all six of those Germans combined.”

The conclusion is obvious. “We are at war.” That statement appears in virtually every call for more spying, more torture, more killing. War is an emergency. An existential struggle. To the extent that the ordinary rules get in the way of victory, they must be suspended — just as Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. “The constitution is not a suicide pact,” as the saying goes.

Occasionally, this stuff is disingenuous, as when Mitch Daniels, Bush’s budget director, justified the ballooning deficit by saying “it’s a wartime budget” and then turned around and justified tax cuts by claiming “Americans are being taxed at the highest peacetime rates in history.”

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Written by laudyms

December 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

A Police State You’d Better Believe In

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We should not let a smooth talking political leader like our current President talk us out of the civil liberties he seemed zealous to protect.

by Jack Kenny    Thursday, 29 July 2010

The New American

When our nation is waging “war on” so many things (drugs, crime, poverty, terrorism), it’s hard to know where to enlist and when to defect. Or put another way, when should a patriot oppose his government? One answer, which we may hope is obvious, is when his government is waging war on liberty. The trick, of course, is to recognize it as such, since the government will always claim to be defending liberty when waging war against it.

Thus it is that in the “war on terrorism” our government is building, brick by brick, a new police state, called “Security.” Consider, for example, this item from The Washington Post:

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — ‘electronic communication transactional records’ — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the ‘content’ of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

There now. Don’t you feel safer and more secure already? Or do you have that creepy feeling that somebody is looking over your shoulder? Read the rest of this entry »

George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’

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April 9, 2010      The Times

(Photographer: Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)

Donald Rumsfeld believed that releasing the innocent detainees would harm the Administration, according to a signed declaration by a top aide to Colin Powell

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration.

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Beyond Orwell: The Electronic Police State, 2010

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Antifascist Calling

March 19, 2010

by Tom Burghardt InformationClearinghouse – — A truism perhaps, but before resorting to brute force and open repression to halt the “barbarians at the gates,” that would be us, the masters of declining empires (and the chattering classes who polish their boots) regale us with tales of “democracy on the march,” “hope” and other banalities before the mailed fist comes crashing down.

Putting it another way, as the late, great Situationist malcontent, Guy Debord did decades ago in his relentless call for revolt, The Society of the Spectacle:

“The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender ‘lonely crowds.’ With ever-increasing concreteness the spectacle recreates its own presuppositions.”

And when those “presuppositions” reproduce ever-more wretched clichés promulgated by true believers or rank opportunists, take your pick, market “democracy,” the “freedom to choose” (the length of one’s chains), or even quaint notions of national “sovereignty” (a sure fire way to get, and keep, the masses at each others’ throats!) we’re left with a fraud, a gigantic swindle, a “postmodern” refinement of tried and true methods that would do Orwell proud!

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End of Civil Rights: McCain & Lieberman’s “Enemy Belligerents” Bill

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Dissenters To Be Detained As “Enemy Belligerents”?

New bill allows U.S. citizens to be kidnapped and detained without trial indefinitely based on “suspected activity”

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Monday, March 8, 2010

Since the establishment media is convinced that tea party members, 9/11 truthers, libertarians, Ron Paul supporters, and basically anyone with a dissenting political opinion is a likely domestic terrorist, they should be celebrating the fact that a new bill would allow the government to detain such people as “enemy belligerents” indefinitely and without trial based on their “suspected activity”.

The “Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010,” introduced by Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman on Thursday with little fanfare, “sets out a comprehensive policy for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected enemy belligerents who are believed to have engaged in hostilities against the United States by requiring these individuals to be held in military custody, interrogated for their intelligence value and not provided with a Miranda warning,” writes the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder.

The full bill can be read here (PDF).

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“Counterterror”- what the US calls its brand of state terrorism

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Tom Engelhardt and Anand Gopal explore the practices of our military and mercenary forces in Afghanistan in the Tomgram article “Obama’s Secret Prisons: Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the “Black Jail,” and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan”:

“You don’t know what counterterror is?  Not so surprising.  The truth is, if you’re not a complete news jockey, you probably don’t know much about targeted assassinations, night raids, secret detention centers, disappearances, and other acts of counterterror (which is really terror in uniform or at least under state orders).  Of course, the Afghans know well enough.  For them, it’s not a secret war, particularly in the southern parts of the country, where the Taliban is strongest; it’s but one particularly frightening aspect of everyday life.

It’s just we Americans who are ignorant. Our secret war is essentially kept secret from us.  Our Special Forces operatives, along with the CIA (and possibly private contractors), have long been involved in the “night raids” that Anand Gopal describes below.  And regularly enough, if you’re reading closely, you’ll see news bubbling to the surface about their results — like those eight students in grades 6-10, who were taken from their beds by “Americans” in a night raid in Kunar Province, handcuffed, and then evidently executed. (A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that they were “martyred” and the UN has confirmed that they were students.)  Or consider the recent night raid in Ghazni Province that killed at least four Afghan villagers, including an 11-year-old.  Both incidents led to angry protests; both resulted in denials by the U.S. military that the dead were anything but “insurgents” or “bomb-makers.” ”

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