Archive for the 'Democracy?' Category

Paula’s Millions March Photo Essay

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Below are Paula’s photos taken during the Millions March protest.  They offer a protestor’s view of things, giving a sense of what those who march could see.  She was especially sensitive to the signs people had made and carried.

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NO INTERVIEWS WITH PRISONERS WHO WERE TORTURED

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

As Glenn Greenwald points out, the US media has not published interviews with prisoners whom the US has tortured at Guantanamo and elsewhere and ultimately released.  There are hundreds of them now, and some of them are English speakers, though translators could also facilitate interviews even with those who do not.

Greenwald states:

“If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been reported for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes.”

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Guantanamo prisoners recently released

You can read  Greennwald’s full account here  of the egregious details of prisoners who, like nearly all the prisoners at Guantanamo (and likely others tortured by US officials elsewhere) are known not to have done any harm to the US or anyone.  The newly released section of the Senate report has information about some of these former prisoners.

Maher Arar, former prisoner and his wife

I have said for years that the remaining prisoners should be released and all the prisoners should be indemnified with a substantial amount of money.  The latter is not enough, but it would help some of these men to start life again on a better footing and to get the help they need after being tortured.  The US war department budget which is astronomical, could be used for this purpose.

Greenwalk gives a link to an article about the case of an innocent man tortured and released, suffering terrible physical and pschological trauma without so much as an apology:

“Masri brought his case, he told his story, and they knew it was true,” Dakwar [director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Libeties Union] said. “Yet he never received redress. He never received an apology. He never even received acknowledgment. His case gives you an idea of the level of lawlessness, the magnitude of this atrocity. His life was devastated. And the United States didn’t care.”

You can click here to go to an article from Fox News about prisoners released in November.  Though they never were a threat to the US, the article still says that ” an administration task force determined they no longer posed a threat.”  The US media support the US government in vilifying these men who are the victims of unspeakable abuse, thought they are completely innocent.  It is rather the United States that poses the greatest threat to the rest of the world, to say nothing of the threats it poses to many US citizens, especially those who are persons of color.

The United States, the most lawless country on earth, doesn’t care about its atrocities, but I care.  I also fear that the rest of the world is not going to tolerate US crimes against humanity indefinitely and I fear the repercussions of that for all of us here.

UNBROKEN LINE OF POLICE VIOLENCE BACK TO THE DAYS OF SLAVERY

Monday, December 15th, 2014

My observations in the post below about some people in the US never having found the police here anything but violent and brutal are reflected in an article about Professor Angela Davis in the Guardian today.

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“There is an unbroken line of police violence in the United States that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery, the aftermath of slavery, the development of the Ku Klux Klan,” says Angela Davis. “There is so much history of this racist violence that simply to bring one person to justice is not going to disturb the whole racist edifice.”

And further

One key feature of that racist oppression, Davis says, is what she and other leftist intellectuals call the “prison industrial complex”, the tawdry if tacit alliance between capitalism and a structurally racist state.

Also

In Davis’s philosophy, this should come as no surprise; for her, the prison industrial complex is not just a racist American money-making machine, but a means to criminalise, demonise and profit from the world’s most powerless people. “I think it is important to realise that this is not just a US phenomenon, it’s a global phenomenon. The increasing shift of capital from human services, from housing, jobs, education, to profitable arenas has meant there are huge numbers of people everywhere in the world who are not able to sustain themselves. They are made surplus, and as a result they are often forced to engage in practices that are deemed criminal. And so prisons pop up all over the world, often with the assistance of private corporations who profit from these surplus populations.”

Read the complete article here.

Millions March

Monday, December 15th, 2014

This blog is titled No War, No Torture, No More Corporate Empire. These are related, of course.  Torture is practiced in US prisons, which benefit corporations by providing low cost labor, by enriching the private entities that run many prisons in this country, by getting rid of large numbers of people whom the US has historically not wanted as freely acting citizens.  The torture learned in US prisons is exported and extended in scope in its wars.  The latter enrich many US corporations.  All at the expense of the people of this country and to the detriment and death of many abroad as well as US citizens.

The Millions March was a response to the wide spread police abuse of unarmed, mostly young black men, and even children, in this country who are shot and skilled with impunity.  The recent cases of police officers not being tried for the murders of two young men in particular, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, have come to symbolize thousands of others.

Below are photographs from New York, Washington, DC, and California.

In New York

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Eric Garner’s Eyes

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Many people marching

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In Washington, D.C.

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Michael Brown’s Parents with Rev. Al Sharpton

 Whiteplains, NY

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California

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US TORTURE SEEN BY OTHERS

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Below is the complete text, which I translated from the French original that you can see here, of an interview with a French philosopher about the implications of the recently released portions of the US Senate report on US torture.  Notice in the last paragraph of the interview, the remark about US citizens.

Since 2001, we have been seeing a total withdrawal from the law in the United States

Laureance DERRANOUX   11 December 2014 at 1;32 pm

INTERVIEW

The philosopher Michel Terestchenko, author of “Le Bon Usage de la torture ou comment les démocraties justifient l’injustifiable”, [The Right Use of Torture or How Democracies Justify the Un-Justifiable], reacts to the publication of the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA on suspects following the attacks of September 11, 2001, in secret prisons in foreign countries.

Professor Michel Terestchenko

What is your first reaction to reading this report, published on Tuesday?

It is a terrifying indictment against the CIA, likely to feed all the conspiracy theories and conspirators.  From the moment when President Bush signed the National Security Strategy of the United States on September 17, 2001, less than a week after the attack on the World Trade Center, which authorized the director of the CIA to undertake all operations necessary to capture and place in detention all persons who represent a threat of continuing and serious violence and who plan terrorist acts, the CIA has acted with complete impunity, with unprecedented powers, without referring to the executive branch nor to the President.  Either because the agency had been tacitly authorized to, or because it deliberately tricked the Bush administration until 2003 and the president until 2006.

It was known that the US had practiced torture since Vietnam.  And more recently, since the revelation in 2004 of the atrocities committed by the army in the prison of Abu Graib, in Irak.  What is troubling in this report, in addition to the horrific catalog of torture practices used, is that the CIA did not stop transmitting false information to the White House, to various officials, and to the press.  It lied about the conditions of detention of the prisoners, about the interrogation techniques used, about the physical effects of these methods, and about their effectiveness …

The effectiveness of torture is however the argument used to defend its use…

George W. Bush publicly recognized in 2006  the use of “alternative procedures”, justifing them a posteriori on the pretext that they would permit “obtaining significant information” and “saving lives”.  However, no valuable or useful information permitting the disclosure of an attack resulted from it.  What is astonishing, is that the intelligence agencies know that torture is not useful, that information is obtained by face to face questioning and analysis. And what’s more, it is evident that the CIA used inexperienced agents in these interrogation centers.

Is it really possible to think that the highest level of the US government was not informed about this?

Despite what the rapport affirms, it seems very unlikely that president George W. Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, could have been kept in total ignorance of the activities that they had furthermore explicitly put in place and supported at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, or in Irak during this period.  On February 7, 2002, the president had furthermore signed a directive restating that the Taliban and prisoners of Al-Qaeda were not protected by the Geneva convention on prisoners of war.  Despite the amount of remarkable information collected, there are still unknown areas.  Only 525 pages have been declassified of the 6000 in the full report, and a note specifies that the White House refused to give the commission access to 9400 documents that it kept due to “executive privilege”, even after repeated requests including in 2013- under the Obama regime.

What is the conclusion that you draw from this first reading?

This is proof of the dysfunction of the entire chain of command and of the total withdrawal from the rule of law following the attacks of September 11.  We have been watching for thirteen years the disappearance of all positive forms of supervision of democratic institutions, the total passivity of citizens.  In the same way, the impunity, the secrecy, the distrust of international law, and the ineffectiveness that characterize the policy being used by the CIA to eliminate jihadists with targeted strikes that are in fact assassinations.  The US Senate commission concludes that the results of this inquiry are “a warning for the future” that “the intelligence community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation “  And that in a situation of crisis it is necessary, more than ever, to adhere to the laws and standards of a democracy.

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I was struck by the professor’s remark in the last paragraph about the passivity of US citizens, but I have often wondered in my experiences on the street protesting US wars and torture what would have been the difference if  instead of a handful of us there had been a hundred thousand or a million of us.

Protesting US wars in front of a recruiting center in lower Manhattan.  Two other people are to the right of this image, out of the view of the photograph.  Six people protesting US wars and exploitation of young people who cannot find jobs in this economy and sign up in order to escape from economic deprivation.

And here are a handful of us the day after Obama was elected. We protested in front  at Federal Plaza on Broadway and then marched to City Hall, crying “No more torture, no more war, no matter who you voted for.” Click here to read about that.

Only during the OWS days did it seem to me that significant numbers of people were active.  I note that the vicious and brutal suppression of OWS followed, but that may just mean that people are going to have to be even more determined if US wars and torture are to stop.

That brings me to the issue of US wars and torture again.  We deceive ourselves if we think that US torture has stopped.  Torture goes on in US prisons, which house the largest population in the world by magnitudes, as well as in Guantanamo and other sites around the world. And the war goes on as well; US military personnel are posted all over the planet and are in combat in Afghanistan that we know of and perhaps elsewhere.

Professor Terestchenko points out to us one thing that people in the US can change–their engagement in ending US crimes against humanity and torture.

NOCHE SNATCHED BY POLICE AT PROTEST

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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Noche Diaz, worker for the rights of all

I just got word that Noche Diaz, one of the sweetest human beings on the planet but one determined to bring about change, especially for those discriminated against in this society, was snatched by the police while protesting peacefully about the grand jury decision in Ferguson this evening.  Thousands of people are on the streets in NYC.  Noche was targeted for exercising his constitutionally protected right to free speech.

There was no news of where he was for four hours, but a call to the police just now revealed that he is at Central Booking.  What happened to him in those four hours?

I have stood on the street with Noche, passing out flyers and speaking to people about the Stop and Frisk police campaign that targets young black and Latino men.  Noche has been a leader in the Stop Stop and Frisk campaign, he knows that kind of discrimination close up and personal.

See posts about his work on this blog here,  and here. 

I have also called 311 and left a message for Mayor de Blasio, whose young son would likely be targeted by the police if he were not the mayor’s son.  You can also telephone the mayor or email him here.

US TORTURE

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Though many of us know that the US engages in torture, new details of exactly what that means are being revealed in s Senate report.

“The CIA brought top al-Qaeda suspects close ‘to the point of death’ by drowning them in water-filled baths during interrogation sessions in the years that followed the September 11 attacks, a security source has told The Telegraph.

“The description of the torture meted out to at least two leading al-Qaeda suspects, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, far exceeds the conventional understanding of waterboarding, or ‘simulated drowning’ so far admitted by the CIA.

‘“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,’ said the source who has first-hand knowledge of the period. ‘They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.’

“The account of extreme CIA interrogation comes as the US Senate prepares to publish a declassified version of its so-called Torture Report – a 3,600-page report document based on a review of several million classified CIA documents.

“Publication of the report is currently being held up by a dispute over how much of the 480-page public summary should remain classified, but it is expected to be published within weeks.”

The full article can be found at this link: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39611.htm

At the end of the article, Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative is quoted as saying:

[The brutal torture, though not surprising] “… is, however, something that the American public has a right to know about, and an obligation to reckon with, and these revelations only underscore the urgent need for release of the Senate intelligence committee report”.

I believe, too, that the US public has a right to know this; we paid for it with our tax money, though no one asked our permission to do it.  I am not sure what our “obligation to reckon with” this torture means.

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Along with many others, I have stood on the street and cried “No More Torture,”

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I have gone to Washington on the anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo prison and protested on the steps of the Supreme Court, I once danced there while one of the lawyers who represent the prisoners at Guantanamo read a letter one of them wrote,