Sunday, January 11, 2009

Forgive Not

Nobody is looking for a series of public floggings. The blueprints for government accountability look nothing like witch hunts. They look like legal processes that have served us for centuries. And, as the Armed Services Committee report makes clear, we already know an enormous amount about what happened to take us down the road to torture and eavesdropping. The military has commissioned at least three investigative reports about the descent into abusive interrogation. Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has compiled what he believes to be sufficient evidence to try senior Bush administration officials for war crimes. More previously secret memos from the Office of Legal Counsel were released just last week.

Nevertheless, it's clear that the first step will be a thorough determination of what has occurred. To that end, this week the House Judiciary Committee chairman, John Conyers Jr., introduced legislation for a panel to investigate the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration. Such a commission would not constitute a criminal investigation, but it would not preclude one either.

Some commentators have suggested that any such truth commission should promise immunity or a pardon in exchange for truthful testimony, but I believe that if it becomes clear that laws were broken, or that war crimes were committed, a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate further. The Bush administration made its worst errors in judgment when it determined that the laws simply don't apply to certain people. If we declare presumptively that there can be no justice for high-level government officials who acted illegally then we exhibit the same contempt for the rule of law.

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FBI files indict Bush, Cheney and Co. as war criminals

The most stunning revelation in a 370-page Justice US Department Inspector General's report released this week was that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had formally opened a “War Crimes” file, documenting torture they had witnessed at the Guantánamo Bay US prison camp, before being ordered by the administration to stop writing their reports.

The World Socialist Web Site, together with human rights groups and other opponents of US militarism and repression, has long insisted that the actions of the Bush administration—the launching of wars of aggression, assassinations, the abduction and detention of civilians without trial and, most repugnant of all, torture—constitute war crimes under any legitimate interpretation of longstanding international statutes and treaties.

To have this assessment confirmed, however, by the IG of the Justice Department, the only senior official there not answerable directly to the White House, and by agents of the FBI, an agency not known for its sensitivity to questions of democratic rights, is an indication of the rampant character of these crimes as well as the crisis they have engendered within the US government and America's ruling elite as a whole.

The report makes it absolutely clear that torture was ordered and planned in detail at the highest levels of the government—including the White House, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the Justice Department. Attempts to stop it on legal or pragmatic grounds by individuals within the government were systematically suppressed, and evidence of this criminal activity covered up.

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Obama’s new man calls time on US torture

Leon Panetta is someone everyone who is anyone in Washington knows well. He's a huge player in California Democratic politics, a congressman for many years and a former Clinton chief of staff. A centrist, his expertise is in managing bureaucracies and budgets, not intelligence. But he served on the 9/11 commission and knows his way around the federal labyrinth. He is also the kind of genial fellow who appeals beyond party. Among the surprising supporters of his nomination were several leading neoconservatives – among them, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle – who had long been suspicious of CIA lifers.

Michael Ledeen, who makes Cheney look like Jane Fonda, put it this way: “I always liked Panetta. He served in the army and is openly proud of it. He seems to be a good lawyer (oxymoronic though it may seem). He's a good manager. And he's going to watch Obama's back at a place that's full of stilettos and has a track record for attempted presidential assassination second to none.”

The latter political point is particularly relevant. Getting solid intelligence to the president's desk outside other pressures and departments is the key task for a CIA director. With the heavyweights Hillary Clinton at the State Department and Bob Gates at the Pentagon, a CIA officer promoted from within to run the agency would never have stood a chance. Panetta is a real pol with great connections. Sometimes that matters more than being marinated in CIA culture for decades. And Obama could always give him a deputy who is more of a company man – and that figure has indeed been proposed in the figure of Stephen Kappes, the current CIA deputy director, whom Obama is tipped to keep on.

But Panetta's core qualification at this particular moment was his public statements on the Bush-Cheney torture programme. This is what Panetta wrote in the Washington Monthly last year: “How did we transform from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers? One word: fear. Fear is blinding, hateful and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what's wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock? The simple answer is the rule of law. Our constitution defines the rules that guide our nation. . .

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J'ACCUSSE. I Accuse.

An Open Letter to the World Regarding the Worldwide Police Killings of
Unarmed People:

As I wrote this letter, I had difficulty breathing, I cried, and then
I wiped my eyes and I pulled my self together to try to sound
coherent, to write clearly and civilized... civilized.. so surreal...
about the police officers shooting and killing Oscar Grant, a
completely unarmed, handcuffed Black man who was down on the ground
while other police officers held him down...and the entire event was
captured on not one, but several different videos that i just saw, so
there is no mistake of the events. At least two of the videos are now
here:
http://aworldbeyondcapitalism.org/onlinevideo.htm or here
http://www.peacecommunities.org/onlinevideo.htm.

After much thought, I then realized I wanted to not only write this
open letter but also to organize an international non-violent writers
movement to encourage you, the reader, to write an open letter. So I
did a little research. For those unaware, as I was unaware, J'accuse
("I accuse") was one of the most famous open letters in history
written about the Dreyfus Affair. The Dreyfus Affair was a political
scandal which divided France from the 1890s to the early 1900s. It
involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred
Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish background who was
wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's island. Two years
later, in 1896, the real criminal was identified: French Army Major
Esterhazy. The Open Letter was published on January 13, 1898, on the
front cover of the newspaper L'Aurore by the influential writer Émile
Zola. Most of the work of exposing the errors in Dreyfus's conviction
was done by Dreyfus's brother Mathieu, a Jewish journalist and
anarchist Bernard Lazare, who first used the word J'accuse in a
different publication and two others who included a French army
officer and the Vice president of the French Senate.

The letter was addressed to the President of France and accused the
government of antisemitism. The ramifications of the open letter
continued for many years; among other things it prompted legislation
such as a 1905 law separating church and state; on the 100th
anniversary of Zola's article, France's Roman Catholic daily paper, La
Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus
Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a
major turning-point in the affair. Zola was brought to trial for
criminal libel on June 9, 1899, and was convicted, sentenced, and
removed from the Legion of Honor. Zola fled to England. After his
brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899,
he was allowed to return in time to see the French government fall. As
a direct result of the Open Letter, In 1906, Dreyfus was completely
exonerated by the Supreme Court

Writing open letters and telling the truth to those in power takes
courage, and has the power to change the entire world, even though
much like most of you reading this, I am not an influential writer
like Émile Zola. I am a severely disabled, financially disadvantaged,
Black feminist living on the West coast who happily writes with lots
of typos and a blatant disregard for the grammatical rules of the
Colonized English language. I woke up this morning, did some work for
the Freeschool Community, then logged in to a wonderful online,
Progressive community called Peace Communities, a beta project of the
Mutualist project, and I read a news article on a RSS feed about a
Black Man being killed by Police Officers while other police officers
held him down. I then watched the video and what I saw was far more
chilling than watching Rodney King being beat by Police Officers, in
which Rodney King was fortunate to live through his hellish ordeal.

I considered Rodney King "lucky", because I used to live in Portland,
Oregon, where three unarmed African-Americans were actually killed...
by Portland Police within 25 months; Byron Hammick in 2002, Kendra
James in May 2003 and James Jahar Perez shortly afterwards. James
Philip Chasse, Jr. was not African-American, but he was part of a
marginalized community due to his mentally challenged condition, and
was yet another unarmed person who was literally beaten (not shot) to
death and killed by Portland Police officers in September 2006. Many
of you will never know what it feels like to be an African-American,
financially disadvantaged, disabled person and walk the streets of a
city knowing at any time you might be the next unarmed African-
American male to be killed by Police. Its like the Black man's lottery
that none of us wants to win. The only way that we, people from all
backgrounds win in this crisis is join together to solve this crisis
that divides us and speak out together. That is why I made a point to
describe in detail how there were members of the writers community,
anarchist community, members of the military and members of the Senate
who all worked together to find justice in the Dreyfus Affair in order
to have the Open letter published.

You see, it is not just a West Coast America issue, not just a race
issue, more importantly, it is an issue about our failed systems that
allows police to carry guns in our community. We not must not let
gender, age, race, mental or physical disability, class or region
divide on us these issues.

Long ago, I researched every aspect of the Amadou Bailo Diallo
killing, in which an unarmed Black man was killed in a barrage of 41
bullets fired by Police officers, and yet I still can't makes sense of
it and I still can only remember. But I told myself it couldn't get
worse than that. After all, the police said it looked like Diallo drew
a gun, but it turned out he pulled out his wallet to show them the
Photo ID because they requested to see it even as their guns were
drawn. Whenever police harass me with racial profiling and ask me for
ID, I move slowly, carefully and remember Diallo.
< http://www.dsame.com/remember.pdf >

And then on November 27th, 2006 Sean Bell, an unarmed New Yorker was
killed just hours before his wedding. I thought to myself, surely it
couldn't get worse that...it'll get better. The police said they
thought a fellow police office yelled 'Gun' but it was just a mistake.

But it is not just an American issue of social class of our failed
system. On Saturday December 6th at around 10pm, two Greek policemen
were in patrol in a central street and according to press reports, two
Special Guards (a special category of the Greek police personnel,
originally meant for guard duties on public property) had been engaged
in a verbal argument with a small group of teenagers in a main street
of Exarchia square, in the center of Athens. They had a verbal
argument with some young people who were there. During the argument,
one of the cops pulled his gun and shot 15-year-old

Alexandros Grigoropoulos (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γρηγορόπουλος). The victim
was moved to a Hospital to be found dead. As is typical in shootings
of unarmed people, the police issues press releases trying to describe
the boy to the public as a trouble maker but his family, his private
school and many others released press releases to say otherwise. Riots
broke out across Greece and the world from the event. The police
always cite mistakes being made.

With Oscar Grant, there was no mistake of someone thinking they
'heard' the word 'gun' from fellow officers as with Sean Bell. With
Oscar Grant, there was no mistakes of someone thinking they even 'saw'
a gun as police claimed with Diallo and police have said in countless
other unarmed incidents when unarmed people are killed by
police....because Oscar Grant was handcuffed and face down. I saw a
police stand above a man who was handcuffed and pull out his gun and
shoot the man.

I know it is not about social class because when I first saw the video
with Oscar Grant after being in Awe for many hours and talking with my
friend about it for a long time, I went to do an Internet search for
it to learn more and I found another story involving a young Black
Texas man who was shot in his own driveway by a white police officer.

Wikipedia states the following: "Bobby Tolan was a reserve outfielder
during his years with the Cardinals, with whom he won a World Series
title in 1967... and batted second behind Pete Rose in the Reds
lineup. Bobby Tolan is married to Marian Trahan and they have a son
Robert (Robbie) Tolan who plays professional baseball in the
Washington Nationals organization. On December 31, 2008, Robbie was
shot by a Bellaire, Texas policeman. Robbie Tolan was unarmed and
driving his own vehicle. The bullet lodged in (Robbie) Tolan's liver;
the injury may have ended his professional baseball career. An
investigation into the shooting is on-going." I researched further and
learned that according to Robbie Tolan's family members, Robbie Tolan
and his cousin were returning to Tolan's home in the primarily white
Houston suburb of Bellaire in the early hours of December 31, when
they were approached by officers who suspected the SUV they had just
gotten out of was stolen. Tolan's parents, the owners of the SUV, came
out of the house to explain everything to the police. An altercation
occurred and Robbie's mother was slammed against the garage door by an
officer. According to Tolan's uncle, "Her son was on his back at the
time, and he raised up and asked, 'What are you doing to my mom?' and
the officer shot him -- while he was on the ground." Tolan's uncle,
Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932 Summer
Olympics.

Many people would like to tell you it is a race issue or a social
class issue or some other issue. We not must not let gender, age,
race, mental/physical disability, class, region, sexual orientation or
any other characteristic divide on us the need to solve this crisis of
armed police in our communities.

Perhaps I have had a lack of desire to get completely and thoroughly
involved because paying rent, paying for food, paying for healthcare,
trying to find a way to get two worsening, agonizing, excruciatingly
painful cavities removed with a special, expensive surgery needed with
no dental coverage because the AK arthritis in my neck doesn't permit
my mouth to open wide enough for standard tooth repair... and simply
existing is a full time job for me and it seems to gets harder
everyday. Many of you face the same exact hurdles and much worse, I
know. But today my excuses and reasons end. Today, I send out this
open letter to encourage everyone to write an open letter about
unarmed people who are being killed by police officers. Blog about it,
send out emails, website post it, hand write it with sloppy
handwriting in crayons and post it everywhere any way that you can. It
doesn't even need to cost you money, just a few moments of your time.
Because with the Oscar Grant killing I must accuse myself just as I
accuse the world... of being too quiet, because I must admit that the
cop killings of unarmed people, all over the world, is getting much,
much worse everyday and as we see Peak Oil and the worldwide economy
collapse we must realize it will get far worse if we remain silent.

I have been wondering what those of us who are poor or physically
challenged or struggling just to exist could do to help solve this
crisis. After much thought I am writing to you because I (representing
no organization or entity) am encouraging an international non-violent
writing movement to begin immediately called J'ACCUSSE (I accuse) that
I hope spreads all over the world. You can participate in this event
from anywhere in the world and all that you have to do to participate
is one simple thing, just one simple thing: Tell someone how you feel
about any unarmed person being shot by police anywhere in the world in
an Open Letter. You can choose to write about one of these people I
have mentioned or sadly, you may know someone who was unarmed and was
shot by police. You can circulate my open letter, which is copyleft,
or shorten it, or you can feel free to write your own open letter...
even if the entire open letter is only four words:"J'ACCUSSE (I
accuse)". Write your thoughts in a open letter and share it with at
least one person..even if its only four words. Thats all I'm asking.
Is that too much? You think it won't make a difference, but it will.
It has made a difference to me just writing this open letter and
opening my heart and sharing this with you now even as tears pour down
my face. I haven't cried this hard in over 10 years and typically
admitting to crying would feel like a weakness but today it feels like
a strength.

I was born in Philadelphia and I have been a victim of crime many
times and had a muggers gun put to my head but there will always be
crime.  The police have bullet proof vests, tasers, pepper-spray,
rubber bullets, dogs, riot gear, batons, and a few dozen other kinds
of unethical forms of weapons and some that are even against the
Geneva Convention at their disposal so why must they carry guns to
continue killing unarmed people? Even if you hand write "J'ACCUSSE (I
accuse)" with sloppy handwriting in crayon and post it in one place it
will make a difference because you will let yourself and others know
that you will not remain silent about police killing unarmed people
anywhere in the world and you will let people know that the system of
armed police in our communities needs to end.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter." Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968)

It is time to start working on a new way of life for people worldwide.

J'ACCUSSE. I Accuse.

I love you all,

Love for the people,

-T. Love

~ alt.gathering.rainbow ~

Mexico's Zapatistas mark 15th anniversary of uprising

Approximately 2,000 supporters of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, gathered in the southern state of Chiapas to mark the 15th anniversary of the group's short-lived uprising.

The EZLN also plans to hold a meeting with its supporters from Jan. 2-4 in San Cristobal de las Casas as part of the Digna Rabia (Dignified Rage) Festival.

The gathering Wednesday night in the Chiapas highland town of Oventic provided a space for athletic games and music but little room for political speeches.

Only one Zapatista representative was in attendance, Comandante David, who slammed the last 15 years of "bad government" in Mexico and the harm it has caused the country's indigenous peoples.

He also used his message to invite the crowd to the meeting that that will begin here Friday to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the uprising and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the EZLN.

~ more... ~


During the Festival of Dignified Rage in Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos breaks the EZLN's silence on the drug war


On the first day of the Zapatista National Liberation Army's participation in the Festival of Dignified Rage, its spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos discussed the drug violence that has increasingly plagued Mexico.  Marcos' speech marks the first time the EZLN has addressed the drug war in any sort of depth.

Marcos couldn't avoid addressing drug violence in his discussion of violence against social movements.  He says Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the corporate media "use and abuse the word 'violence'" for their own means.  "They say they condemn violence, but in reality they condemn action."  Marcos accuses Calderon of using the drug war to pacify discontent with his government.  "Mr. Calderon decided that, instead of bread and circuses, he would give the people blood."

Referencing the lack of confidence in Calderon's government, which is ridden with corruption scandals and has failed to meet its own economic benchmarks, Marcos continued, "The professional politicians are the circus and bread is very expensive.... Perhaps...[Calderon's] goal is to distract people.  The public is so busy with the drug war's  bloody failure, it could be that it doesn't even notice Calderon's failure in political economy."

In his speech to Festival participants, Marcos verbalized what many Mexicans have long suspected: "Everyone who isn't in his Cabinet knows that he's losing this war, and that the death of his significant other was an assassination, which is also well-known but not ever published."  The "significant other" Marcos refers to is Juan Camilo Mouriño, Calderon's long-time friend and Minister of the Interior until he was killed in a plane crash along with other officials.  The Mexican government, which received assistance from US experts during the investigation, has ruled the crash an accident due to pilot error, but many Mexicans believe a drug cartel took down the plane.  José Vasconcelos, Mexico's former top drug prosecutor, was also killed in the crash.

~ more... ~


Mexico Zapatista leader slams Obama over Gaza silence

Mexico's Zapatista rebel leader "Subcomandante" Marcos slammed US president-elect Barack Obama for failing to speak out on Israel's bombing of Gaza, in a speech on Friday marking the 15th anniversary of his rebellion.

The masked leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation -- which rose up in arms in Chiapas, southeast Mexico, on January 1, 1994 -- also critized a government clampdown on spiraling drug violence, in his first public appearance in more than a year.

Obama "supports the use of force" against Palestinian people, Marcos said in a speech to some 2,500 leftist politicians and activists from 25 countries.

~ more... ~


Mexican rebels stand in solidarity with Gaza

Marcos condemned the Israeli attack on Gaza as a “classic military war of conquest,” with one exception: Israel's target is not an opposing military force; its targets are civilians.  Speaking on behalf of the EZLN, he said, “According to the news photos, the 'strategic' points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings.  We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble.  So—and please excuse our ignorance—we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such 'strategic' military points don't exist.”

Marcos lamented the deaths of “men, women, children, and the elderly” in the attacks and commented sarcastically, “surely the hail of bullets that fell on Gaza this morning were in order to protect the Israeli infantry's advance from those men, women, children, and elderly people.”

Without specifically mentioning the word “genocide,” Marco accused the Israeli government of that crime: “The assault will seek to annihilate that population.  And whichever man, woman, child, or elderly person that manages to escape or hide from the predictably bloody assault will later be 'hunted' so that the cleansing is complete and the commanders in charge of the operation can report to their superiors: 'We've completed the mission.'”

~ more... ~

Subcomandante Marcos of EZLN Zapatistas salutes the Greek uprising



"Comrade woman, comrade man.
Revolted Greece.
We, the smallest, from this corner of the world, salute you.
Accept our respect and our admiration
for what you think and do.
From far away, we learn from you. We thank you."

Subcomandante Marcos
1st World Festival of Dignified Rage.
MEXICO, 2/1/09


athens.indymedia.org

The Greek riots: Some basic facts

Part 1


Part2


http://www.jonas-kyratzes.net/

Israel is experimenting new non-conventional weapons in Gaza

Emerging evidence now shows that at least some of these weapons are in use in the Gaza Strip, though it is not possible to verify this directly, due to the lack of access to the area. "The images of the dead and wounded and the news from witness coming from the area of aggresion show significant resemblance with those gathered and verified during the July - August war in 2006 in Lebanon", explains Mrs Manduca. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor, member of a non-governmental organization Norwac, who works currently at the Gaza's largest hospital, Shifa, denounces that "many arrive with extreme amputations, with both legs crushed", wounds, he explains, "that I suspect are inflicted by Dime weapons". The images arriving from Gaza seem to confirm these suppositions as well. The burns suffered by some children in Gaza result very similar to those documented in 2006 by doctor Hibraim Faraj, a surgeon at the Hiram hospital in Tyre and by doctor Bachir Cham at the Hospital du Sur, Sidon. "At the moment", points out Mrs Manduca, "we have reports from doctors and informed witnesses that make us believe new types of weapons are being tested today in Gaza, apart from those used in 2006. This makes it necessary for further technical and scientific researches to be undertaken".

In the last two years NWRC, together with Lebanese and Palestinian doctors, has produced scientific data using techniques of histology, Scansion electron microscopy and chemical analysis on bioptic samples from victims of the 2006 aggressions. It has collected clinical evidence and documentation that proves the use of thermobaric bombs in open spaces, DIME and subletal targeted weapons in 2006 in Lebanon, and DIME and subletal targeted weapons in Gaza.

NWRC submitted in 2007 a report on the subject to the UN Human Rights Council, and in 2008 at the International Citizens Tribunal on War Crimes in Lebanon and to the Italian Parliament's committee of inquiry on depleted uranium. NWRC has also been working together with international scientists who documented the use of uranium ammunitions in Lebanon.

~ more... ~

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