Archive for April, 2014

US Torture Goes On

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Here is a link to an article by David Swanson that references a book by Rebecca Gordon called Mainstreaming Torture.  Swanson says:

“The idea was spread around that the torture was stopping, but the cynical could imagine it must be continuing in secret, the partisan could suppose the halt was only temporary, the trusting could assume torture would be brought back as needed, and the attentive could be and have been aware that the government has gone right on torturing to this day with no end in sight.”

This blog has maintained that US torture has never stopped.  It also deplores it and calls for its end and for accountability for those in high positions who order and sanction torture.  It also calls on all of us to work to stop it.  There is never any reason ever for torture.

What are we doing to stop torture?  If we are US citizens or residents and pay taxes, what does it mean for each of us that we are, at least indirectly, paying for this torture?  Please comment or post about your ideas for ending US torture.

Anniversary of Death of MLK: Racism in the United States Today

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Forty-six years ago Martin Luther King was assassinated and in response a rebellion of Black Americans was launched.  Here is a link to an article that puts this in perspective for today.

MLK

Newark was the site of six days of violence in 1967.  I had never been to Newark then, the year I graduated from college, but in recent years I worked there on a television project for the Sesame Workshop.  The condition of Newark’s black population does not appear to have changed and the city reflects the degradation of the entire country at this time.

There is little doubt that some Black Americans have more opportunities than their counter parts before the 1960’s revolts against white racism.  Still, I think of the black population in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and since, as well as in Newark today.  I know that many of our black sisters and brothers continue to live less well than white ones do.  The economy is bad for many people in this country now, but the black population is always at the bottom.

I am on my way in a few minutes to work with the current Broadway production of the American theater classic Raisin In The Sun.  I rejoice at the opportunities that the young man actor in that production has, but I deplore the continuation of systemic racism in this country and the continuing failure of the US to value all its people.

I also wonder today what the relationship of systemic racism has to the torture currently inflicted on brown people at the torture center at Guantanamo and in other places around the world.  I note the huge number of black and brown people among the astronomical prison population in this country.  I think of the stop and frisk program aimed at young black men here in New York City.

And I say no more.  Let us stop this, let us do all we can to stop systemic racism.

CIA Torture Report and Guantanamo Trials

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Below is a link to a report by Jason Leopold on the Al Jazeera site about the implications of the release of information concerning CIA torture for trials of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  In particular, the trials of the few men in the torture camp who might actually have done harm, will be  impacted.

Senate CIA torture report could throw Gitmo hearings into chaos

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Drawing of trial at Guantanamo

Had the US not tortured the prisoners, trials that could be respected might have been possible even with the irregular detention of these men. The sham trials will, however,  go on, with probable convictions, and even executions, but they will be decried by some US citizens and US allies as well as by the  lawyers, families, friends, and countries of these men and by people and countries around the world who see the US as an aggressive and lawless nation.

It must also be remembered that the number of men at the prison who ever did violence to anyone is quite small.  This article mentions a few who are accused of serious attacks on the US.   A large number of those who remain have been cleared for release at least once, sometimes more than once. The vast majority of the rest have not been involved in any aggression against the US or anyone and were rounded up indiscriminately to fill up the Guantanamo torture camp. Read here about that process.

I still say the only thing to do is release them all.  If the international community finds that some of these men are dangerous, then it can decide what to do about that.  By torturing all these prisoners, including the ones who have never done harm to the US or anyone (as well as other prisoners in US custody around the world) and imprisoning them without charge for over a decade, the US has lost all legal and moral standing in the matter.

More on US Torture

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

New revelations about the US torture programs have been made by the Washington Post in the past few days.  It only corroborates what all of us who have been paying attention have heard for a long time. I encourage you to read the details here so that you will know what US taxpayers’ money goes for.  I remind you that there are still prisoners in the torture camp at Guantanamo Bay and that torture still goes on there, most recently in the response to the prisoners’ hunger strikes.  There is good commentary on the Post article at the World Socialist Website here.

prisoner

Also, it is important to remember that the vast majority of the prisoners have never done any harm to anyone and were rounded up indiscriminately.  All have been tortured.  In addition, life at Guantanamo and in the black sites is itself torture.

Regardless of what any prisoner at Guantanamo or at any of the numerous US black sites did (and few of them did anything as previous posts have mentioned), their being tortured makes it impossible for them to be fairly tried.  It looks to me as though the only possible just thing is to release them all.  Holding people indefinitely without trial is not legal.  Trying people who have been tortured can never be just.  The US has created an impossible situation where the only solution is to let them all free and indemnify them, which would certainly not make up for their treatment, but would demonstrate that the US is serious about taking responsibility for its heinous practices.

Even Andy Worthington asked me once if I really wanted to let one of the prisoners (I can’t remember which one now) free.  Andy is an authority on who is in the torture camp and believes, with good reason, that a very small number of the men imprisoned there are dangerous.

Andy2

Andy Worthington on the steps of the Supreme Court protesting Guantanmo and demanding release of innocent prisoners

The lawyers who represent these prisoners whom I have met and heard speak all say that the prisoners should be justly tried or released.  I have never heard one of them say that since they have been tortured, no fair trial is possible, but I am not willing to think that might not be a legal argument to present.

My statement on this issue is that the choices made by the US have left no just alternative; it should release the prisoners, pay restitution, and take the consequences of its atrocious acts.  The alternative is to continue the torture and abuse.  I, for one, want to go on record as being opposed to that alternative. Nothing ever justifies torture in any form.  The US Constitution, written by persons who knew well about torture and the threat to liberty and justice of its use, proscribed “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Some say that that only applies to US citizens, but we know that US citizens are tortured as well.   I protest the use of torture by the US on anyone, anywhere, ever.