Archive for the 'OWS' Category

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.

********

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.

Photo Essay from Lucille at Protest for Bradley Manning

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Lucille

Lucille Standing Up for Bradley and for All of Us

IVAW

The Iraq Veterans Against the War Were Well Represented

VientNam_vets

Viet Nam Veterans Were Also Out in Force

right_to_know_vfp

Veterans For Peace Know Why We Need to Stop Wars

makeout-notwar

This Veteran Has A Great Idea

youth

I am very encouraged by the Younger Generations Standing Up for Bradley and for Peace and Justice

codepink

Code Pink Can Always be Counted On

drones

This Woman Has Another Good Idea

occupier

Those from the Occupy Movement Still Working for Us All

Mexican_flag

Ssomeone From Mexico Supporting Bradley

Did you see this on the major corporate news media?  Thank you, Lucille, for sharing these photographs of this important action.

A Sovereign Decision by Ecuador: Making the Right to Free Speech Real

Friday, August 17th, 2012

I arrived a little early, as I always do, with my bouquet of flowers that would later be filmed close up by both the AP and the Reuters teams present for our demonstration.  There were police barriers out in front of the building where the Consulate of the Republic of Ecuador is located and I was a little wary.  The police on duty paid me no mind and the person at the desk in the lobby whom I asked knew nothing of our action.  It had been called late by the World Can’t Wait in response to Ecuador’s granting political asylum to Julian Assange.  WCW suggested we bring flowers, thank you letters, and signs and assemble at the consulate at 5pm.

Sharon and Julie, bearing flowers and signs, showed up soon.  It was great to see Fran again, too.  She and I have had memorable experiences on the streets.  This one turned out to be one I shall never forget.

Fewer than a dozen in all, we had signs that said things like “Bravo, Ecuador!” and “Thank you, Ecuador!”  Several of us had flowers.  We did not chant slogans and demand the end to wars and torture as we usually do.  We were there to say Thank You.  Bob Parsons arrived soon and set about finding out if we could deliver our gifts and express our thanks to the Consul and the staff.  During the time he was inside, the press filmed us and asked us for interviews.  We were not numerous, but this was a momentous occasion.  Ecuador, the small country with a huge heart, has been protecting Assange for weeks.  It announced today that it was offering him political asylum.

The process of reaching that decision is reported to have been quite painstaking.  Mark Weisbrot published an article in the Guardian of 16 August 2012, which tells the whole story and which you can read here.  The US, which claims to be a defender of human rights, despite its long record of abuses abroad and at home, is now called out by a tiny country in Latin America that really takes human rights seriously.

A tall young man from the Consulate came down to see us with our flowers and signs and got permission to take us up to meet the Consul and staff.  Cramped into the elevators with the press, we went up, I feeling euphoric and excited.

With the press cameras rolling, Sr. Jorge Lopez Amaya met us and it was my honor to offer him the bouquet I had brought.  He listened as Bob told him how grateful we are for the stand Ecuador has taken in the matter of protecting free speech and the rights of journalists in this matter.

Sr Jorge Lopez Amaya

Sr. Lopez appeared more than a little moved by our expressions of support and gratitude.  Small wonder since the official US reaction has not been supportive, indeed might even be styled hostile.  He thanked us sincerely.  He also introduced Linda Machuca Mosoosa, who is the elected member of the National Assembly of Ecuador for the Ecuadorians who live in the US and Cuba.  Just because a person has left Ecuador does not mean she or he is no longer wanted there.  There are a number of National Assembly members who represent émigrés from Ecuador to other places on the planet.  Sra Machuca is here to meet with her constituents.  Later this evening, there would be a meeting there at the Consulate to discuss the scholarships that Ecuador provides for students to attend colleges and universities in the US.  Not money for invasions and torture, but for education abroad as well as at home.  It was thrilling to me to see this and compare it to US cuts in education as its wars and torture go on unabated.

Sra Linda Machuca Mosoosa

Sra. Machuca spoke of the desire of the Republic of Ecuador to make human rights “real”.  The government does not want to place the right to free speech in the realm of an ideal that is just talked about.  They see the decision about Assange as a concrete action they can take to defend the right to free speech.

Both Sr Lopez and Sra Machuca emphasized that the decision about Assange was a “sovereign decision.”  Sovereignty is a major issue for this country, which has been treated as a colony of the US in fact if not in name, as most Latin American countries have been.  Their new constitution forbids foreign military bases there, and gives them the power to be a sovereign state, to make their own decisions.  The one about Assange is a major one, and they know that.

I was impressed with their making free speech real and also with their making education real.  Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, holds a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois as well as a degree from a European university and an Ecuadorean one.  He and his fellow Ecuadorians strongly support education, working diligently to make it real for the people of their country.  They strongly support human rights, and practice what they preach in this matter as well.  A friend of mine used to remind me that my principles are what I live by, not what I just talk about.  The people of Ecuador are living by their principles in these areas.

While Sra Machuca spoke and the media recorded that and photographed us standing with her and other staff members around the Ecuadorian flag and such, Sr. Lopez withdrew for a short time.  He returned with a gift for every one of us–a colorful bag with Ecuador Love Life on it.  Their motto Ecuador ama la vida is very inspiring.  And they are making that love of life real in many ways at home and in the world.  In the bag were maps and photographs and literature about the country and notepaper also marked with this motto.  Sr Lopez had no idea we were coming, but they managed to put these gifts together at a moment’s notice.  I was touched at their making their ideas about hospitality real to us.  They seem to know that making things real is about all the relationships they have with people.

When it was finally time for us to leave, Sr. Lopez hugged and kissed us all.  I left with hope for humanity.  If one small country can produce people like these, maybe the whole world really can.

Several of us walked over to Third Avenue and up several blocks to the British Consulate where the Occupy movement has settled in and plans to stay until Assange is out of the UK.  They were thrilled to hear we had been to the Ecuadorian Consulate.  Though not numerous, they are tenacious.  The police were not harassing them during the time I was there.  Let’s hope that continues.  They report that Assange is scheduled to give a speech on Sunday and they anticipate a larger contingent then  if not before.  OWS is clearly on the job.  I will report about them again later.

Jack Reports from DC

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Here are reports of three actions from Jack who is in DC :

“Half a thousand people marching from ‘W street’ to Freedom Plaza.  Very strong marchers. The chanting was almost non stop. We were in 1/2 of the street. Car horns a presence. Good police support, unlike some places I know. Trayvon would be pleased to know the support in DC for his cause.”

 Below, Jack is second from the right in the second row, protesting the wars in front of the White House on Friday, 6 April

And he sent a photograph of a  great “bat light” from the Occupation below:

 

Don’t Suppress OWS Rally and March on February 28

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Yesterday, February 28th, people gathered at Union Square in New York to protest the brutal suppression of the Occupy Wall Street movement which spread all over the country.  Nationally coordinated police raids were carried out in the dark of night, injuring peaceful protestors and destroying their personal property, as well as the People’s Library at the New York occupation.  The only violence done was by the police.

A group of people in New York, both within the Occupy movement and from those like me in the community who have been inspired by it and supported it, formed an Ad Hoc Committee Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement and planned the rally and march.

Unless otherwise noted, all the photographs below were made by Scoboco.

One of the people at Union Square for the rally expressing the view of many present

People listening intently to those on stage

At this event, a little different from many, there were in Acts 1 and 2 of this rally-drama, occupiers on ladders in the crowd showing in words what it was like to experience the eviction  and something of the nature of what the occupation movement actually did.

Occupier Desiree above the heads of the crowd on a ladder telling her story about the eviction

Attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has been arrested for doing so, spoke about taking the movement to Black and Latino neighborhoods.  Signs from the stage said things like “They stole our shit!” and “They were violent, but we got arrested!”

 In Act 3, about the effects of the Suppession of OWS, attorney Norman Siegel, who is bringing a lawsuit against the city for the destruction of the People’s Library in the eviction, was one of the  speakers.

Captain Ray Lewis, retired Philadelphia Police Department, seen above at Liberty Square, who has protested with the Occupiers, spoke during this section.  Professor Andrew Ross from NYU, part of Occupy Student Debt, addressed that issue, which affects many of our young people

Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary with his daughter Bethany sang a special version of The Great Mandala at the end of Act 3.  He had also performed  a set of songs including Have You Been to Jail for Justice as people gathered on the Square beginning at 4pm

Act 4 was where Voices of Conscience, several prominent people from different arenas, spoke about why Occupy is important and called us to act to resist the suppression of it.  Susan Sarandon, who has been arrested with the occupiers, was one who has herself acted courageously. Andy Zee spokesperson for Revolution Books also spoke in this section.

Noam Chomsky could not be present, but sent a video that was screened in Act 4, photograph unattributed

Rev. Steven Phelps, senior minister of the Riverside Church, concluded the spoken part of Act 4. Then, Outernational, the musical group that had also done a set before the rally began, played their rousing Fighting Song.  Part of the lyrics were Go! Go! Go! encouraging us to go on the march.

Outernational (photograph unattributed)

Travis Morales, who was one of the two Narrators  with Alice Woodward, then called us to march to Liberty Square behind the huge puppet of Lady Liberty.

 

 Lady Liberty

NYPD out in force.

What are the corporate masters afraid of from a group of peaceful, if noisy, protestors?  Why did the NYPD don riot gear and evict them from Liberty Plaza last year in a raid coordinated with similar ones across the country?  Why were they present in the hundreds  at this rally and march of completely peaceful people?  The only answer is that the ruling corporate elites of this country do not want change, do not care about the inequality, and are willing to pay for violent suppression of it.

Fortunately, persons like Peter Yarrow on stage and at the head of the march may have helped temper the response to this protest event.  We all arrived at Liberty Square, where we chanted “Whose park? Our park?”  We have made a beginning of a response to the suppression of OWS.  We need to keep moving forward to support this movement.

Averting your eyes?

Wednesday, February 29th, 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

No Tear Gas, No Rubber Bullets…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Women Maced in NYC

Peaceful activists in New York and across the country have been viciously and brutally attacked for assembling and  speaking out about the massive inequality in this country.  They have also been arrested and held on trumped up charges, as though they were at fault when they are only exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The night before and into the morning after the first threatened eviction of OWS from Liberty Square in October,  I remember remarking vividly that the only people I saw with guns (and also clubs and night sticks) were the police.  The occupiers were completely unarmed.  They had only their moral courage to defend themselves.

George Packard, a retired Episcopal bishop who was detained by the NYPD while bringing water to the occupiers at Liberty Square, and later arrested in an Occupy Wall Street action, said the action February 28 “is the absolute preface to any other actions. It’s a question of process even before we take to the streets–how is it that there is this coordinated effort to stifle our free speech?! Mayors on conference calls simultaneously rousting encampments? Renegade cops taking aggressive initiatives because it makes superiors smile? Tear gas and rubber bullets fired into the ranks of Occupy Oakland? Enough!”

With Bishop George Packard, I say Enough!.  I will join the Bishop and thousands of others to make it clear that this suppression of OWS and the Occupy Movement is an assault on the the rights of the people of this country and is not to be accepted.  Click here to join Bishop Packard, 700 others,  and me in signing the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement.  Then join us in the streets on February 28th.

In NYC:

Tues Feb 28 Union Square
No Rubber Bullets – No Beatings  
No Tear Gas – No Mass Arrests
Drop All the Charges Against Occupiers  
Don’t Suppress OWS!  Stand with Occupy!
4:00 pm Gather 5:00 pm Rally 6:00 pm March

 Contribute to the expenses of the rally

Join the Mass Action on February 28

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Occupy Movement is exposing the inequality that exists in the US.  The power elites are not answering that exposure with rational discourse.  There is no acceptable reason for such a system.  They respond through their paid officials and police with brute force.  It is so telling.

Scott Olsen, injured with police projectile at Occupy Oakland.  Scott is one of the signers of the Call for Mass Action against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement.  See other signers and sign here.

As a member of the ad hoc committee planning a mass action to resist the violent suppression of the peaceful Occupy protests, I encourage everyone to join in the mass action wherever you are.

Bishop George Packard, first over the fence.  He is also a member of the ad hoc committee and a signer of the call

For those

In NYC:

Tues Feb 28 Union Square
No Rubber Bullets – No Beatings  
No Tear Gas – No Mass Arrests
Drop All the Charges Against Occupiers  
Don’t Suppress OWS!  Stand with Occupy!
4:00 pm Gather 5:00 pm Rally 6:00 pm March

Contribute to the expenses of the New York rally

For people in other places, organize something and let us all know about it.

Responding in NYC to Oakland Police Brutality Against Occupy Oakland

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Before I even arrived at 6:30pm at the arch on Washington Square Park, I could hear the drum circle in action, but the next thing I noticed was a huge NYPD presence. In response to the violent suppression of peaceful occupiers in Oakland yesterday, the OWS and others called for a march starting at Washington Square Park this evening, Sunday, Jan 29th, at 7pm. Once again, the inordinate police presence reminded me that I must join with others to resist the repression of dissent and the specific suppression of the Occupy movement, the most eloquent expression of dissent in recent memory.

I distributed copies of the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement with the names of some of those who have signed it and are organizing the event on February 25th until the mic check preceded the announcement that the march would being in a few minutes.

With the drums mostly in the lead (though a few straggled out along the long line to support the whole group), we headed north under the arch and up Fifth Avenue.

From Oakland to NYC, Stop police brutality,” was our cry

I did not have a camera, so I don’t have photographs of us–young and old, a wide cross section of people in this city. Below are images of the suppression on Saturday of  Occupy Oakland from Huffington Post:

Occupiers, numerous and probably noisy, but clearly unarmed and peaceful

Police in riot gun firing “less lethal” weapons

Am I the only person who finds this a totally inappropriate response, indeed an illegal and illegitimate one? These police appear to be facing an armed invasion, not a march to a vacant building by peaceful protesters.

The brutal response of the police of Oakland again and by other forces throughout the country, aided by US government officials in an unconstitutional use of federal forces in state and local policing, is more easily explained by a statement quoted by Chris Hedges today:

“‘I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,’ Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence.

“’My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a “brainwasher” and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,’ she went on. ‘During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.'” [Emphasis mine.]

The Occupy movement is a very great threat because it not only says another world is possible, it is modeling that possibility right now.  Note Henderson’s list of 1) independent media, which the Occupy movement has as well, that allow them to disseminate information outside the corporate propaganda organs, 2)the medics which work outside heavily tax subsidized corporate medicine in the US, and 3)the legal observers who call the government’s illegal actions out are mentioned–areas where the Occupy movement also is already working outside the corporate controlled realm.  This is indeed frightening to the corporatocracy and its minions in government, not only in the US but in Canada and around the world.  A New World Is Possible, and it is taking shape right in front  of their eyes, openly, in public spaces.  They cannot let that happen, so they send in the army, let us call it by its right name.

I must resist this.  I showed up for the protest on Sunday and work for the event on Feb 25th.

I had spoken before we left Washington Square with a teachers’ union organizer who remarked on the need to let people know in the face of media misinformation that there is broad support for the occupy movement, and that in fact all but a tiny few people in this country are in the process of losing their future as well as their rights. This is not a movement of some fringe group, but one that represents the vast majority of people in the US and the world.

We continued to hand out leaflets all along the route as we chanted, encouraging others to join us. In spite of the last minute nature of this march, a presentable number of us turned out.

I will not forget a brief encounter with a man to whom I offered a flyer. He asked me if the intent were against OWS. I said that it was not, but in support of it and of the rights of all of us. He replied that he worked for a bank. Clearly, this was a man who works at a bank, not one of the small group who control them. I suggested that his job is not very secure, as he walked off irate. In fact, there is a continuing huge lay off of workers in banks, as the situation those institutions created continues to deteriorate, a fact not widely revealed in US media, but reported in that of the developed countries. I wonder what he will do if he loses his job? Where will he get support? To whom will he turn? If he were ever really to want to know the truth and to work for the good of all, he would be welcomed by the those in OWS.

The financial sector has shed massive number of jobs through early 2011, before the huge losses of the end of the year.  European researchers predict a loss of 10% to 20% of bank employees in the year 2012

DONT SUPPRESS OWS

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

We have seen the peaceful OWS protesters beaten viciously, sprayed with toxic chemicals, their possessions thrown into dumpsters and the occupiers throw into jail.  This violent, brutal suppression of persons exercising their constitutionally protected rights to assemble and to dissent cannot go unchallenged if we do not want to see our rights continue to disappear.

Here is a link to a site where you can sign a call for a massive protest and participate in the action being planned.  There is a meeting this evening and the next few Thursdays in NYC at Judson Church at 6:30.  Go if you can.  A date for this action will soon be announced, definitely plan to participate in the event.

For those of you in other cities, sign and pass on this call and begin to organize something where you are.  We cannot let this repression go without a strong response and hope that things will get better with the spring weather.  Unless we let the powers and the world know that we do not approve, things will only get worse.