Archive for December, 2012

US Torture Condemned in European Court of Human Rights

Monday, December 24th, 2012

“Today, the European court of human rights delivered a measure of justice to [Kaled] el-Masri, [a German national seized by the CIA and tortured]. It vindicated his account of his ill-treatment, and unanimously found that Macedonia [to which he was taken by the CIA for part of his torture] had violated his rights under the European Convention, including by transferring him to US custody in the face of a risk of ill-treatment, and facilitating and failing to prevent his being subjected to CIA ‘capture shock’ at Skopje airport.

“This is the first court to comprehensively and specifically find that the CIA’s rendition techniques amounted to torture. The decision stands in sharp contrast to the abject failure of US courts to deliver justice to victims of US torture and rendition.”

Read about this here  and also  here .

I hope this is the first of many legal condemnations of US torture and crimes against humanity and that the tide of US immunity from legal consequences of its torture will soon be at an end.

Though he recognizes that there is much working against justice any time soon, Andy Worthington writes about other events which show eroding immunity for US torture and crimes against humanity.  He writes:

“While Khaled El-Masri was securing his victory in Strasbourg, another victim of ‘extraordinary rendition’ and torture, Sami al-Saadi, a Libyan and a former opponent of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, secured an important victory in the UK, when the British government agreed to pay him £2.23 million ($3.5 million) in an out-of-court settlement relating to the key role played by the UK, working with the US and Libya, in kidnapping Mr. al-Saadi and his family and rendering them to Col. Gaddafi, who then imprisoned and tortured him.”


Sami al-Saadi

Worthington continues:

“Again, the US is not directly implicated, but the reverberations from the settlement cannot be wished away by the US, and, it seems, there will be more to come in the case of Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who said of al-Saadi, ‘When my friend Sami al-Saadi was freed from Abu Salim prison on 23 August 2011, he weighed seven stone. He was close to death. It is a miracle he survived his ordeal and is home with his family'”

And Worthington remarks on a third event that shows some change in the status of US torture, the 6000 page report by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  He quotes Senator Dianne Feinstein as follows:

“’The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight.’ She also stated, ‘I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine “black sites” and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.’”

Worthington concludes:

“… the best response, while repeatedly highlighting the case of Khaled El-Masri and the shame of rendering political opponents to Col. Gaddafi to secure his support and his oil, will be for President Obama and Congress to make sure that the Senate’s comprehensive torture report is released, and not hidden away, so that the torturers cannot continue to evade accountability for their crimes.

“Without accountability, the toxic virus of torture in America’s body politic will continue to infect the whole country with its poison. It is time for the denial to end.”

How many of us are in denial about the toxic virus of torture in the US?  How can you know you are not in denial about it?  What are you doing to stop it? If you are serious, there are things you can do.  Organizations like World Can’t Wait, organize resistance to US torture.  You can join with others to make your resistance known.  Click here to go to the World Can’t Wait website for information on what you can do to stop the crimes of the US government.

Do We Do Everything the Police Say?

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Police can and do make errors and give orders that are not legal, sometimes accidentally like every other human being and sometimes on purpose. It is chilling that a judge, who is supposed to be impartial and not a tool of the police, would tell someone that he has to do what the police tell him.  The moment that we citizens allow the police to think for us, we live in a police state; and when judges back that up, we are in real trouble.

It appears from the following incident in the Bronx court today that we are in real trouble. Below is a report from that court room today:

“Josh [Norkin, attorney for Noche Diaz, activist against the Stop and Frisk police, see more here and here] went in front of the judge, who immediately started lecturing Noche that when a cop tells him something, he has to do it.  She went on at length speculating that, whatever Noche had done, he didn’t want to obey the cop, or tell the court what he was doing.  Josh took her on in a loud clear voice.  ‘We know exactly what was going on. The police were beating a man terribly in the street, and a crowd gathered.  Noche was in the crowd, observing.’ The judge said Noche had to follow the police order to move.  Josh said no, he didn’t.  ‘It wasn’t a lawful order.’

Noche Diaz, Stop and Frisk activist

“The judge didn’t like this at all.  ‘I suppose he wants to stand on his constitutional rights, but he doesn’t have them here.’  She asked the DA if they would offer an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal).  They did offer it.  Josh told the court, “‘We will refuse an ACD’

“Hell, yeah.  The whole point of defending ourselves against these unjust arrests is to establish that people have the right to observe and document police abuse.  Just because the NYPD arrests you while doing it, doesn’t mean they’re right.  It’s great to have attorneys on our side who see this, and who are just as outraged as we are.”  See the rest of Debra Sweet’s report here.

Are you outraged at the way the NYPD treat people of color in this city?  Are you outraged that the judge lectured Noche and wonder if she would lecture a Wall St criminal?

If you are, what are you doing about this?  Go to the Stop Mass Incareration website, learn more and sign the resoultion.  Go to the fundraiser on Thursday for legal expenses for these defendants who are standing up to police abuse in this city and to a policy that targets black and brown persons.  If you can’t make the party, you can still contribute online.  Link that site to your facebook page and other social media.  Go to a hearing yourself if you are in NYC.

Stop Stop and Frisk protesters are making an impact.  Though the corporate media don’t give this very much attention, alternative media in this city do.  Maybe most importantly,  the people in the courtrooms where these hearings are held, many of them from the populations being targeted, are getting to see resistance for a change.  They may be gaining some hope for a better world.