Archive for November, 2014

POLICE IN THE US

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Never would I have predicted how much I appreciate the work of a member of the Reagan administration, but I find that Professor Paul Craig Roberts often sees some of the same things I do and says many things with which I agree.  In this case, I would argue that many people, especially persons of color and other minority groups might not ever have had the view of the US police that Dr. Roberts and I did.  Certainly police brutality has always existed in some situations, but I don’t think that the US has always been the kind of police state it has become.  Dr. Robert’s remarks are below.

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“I can remember times when police in America were reliable. They had themselves under control and saw their role as helpful to citizens and investigators of crimes. They took care not to bring charges against innocent people and to kill citizens without cause. Police would put their lives on line in order to avoid making a mistake in the use of their power.

“Those times are gone forever. The police have been militarized, especially after 9/11, but even before. Police are taught to regard the public, especially any suspect or traffic offender as a potential threat to the police. The new rule taught to police is to apply violence to the suspect or offender in order to protect the police officer, and to question suspects only after they are safely secured, it they are still alive after being beaten, tasered, or shot.

“This police training, together with police incompetence, which is difficult to understand in these days of GPS addresses, results in massive assaults in the homes of totally innocent American civilians who have done no wrong, but, despite their innocence, lose family members and pets to gratuitous police violence.

“Taxpayers pay the police to investigate crimes, not to attack members of the public. But the police have been taught to see their role as protecting themselves from a criminally- inclined public, black and white.”

You can read the complete article here.

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.

CARL DIX SPEAKS ABOUT POLICE MURDERS

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

“Wilson Has Walked

“AMERIKKKA MUST COME TO A HALT! THERE IS RIGHETOUS RESISTANCE AND YOU MUST BE PART OF IT!!!”

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By Carl Dix

“The grand jury has refused to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. Once again one of their hired guns has gotten away with murdering a Black youth. This is a shot to the heart. A brutal, horrible injustice in its own right. And a damning indictment of the very essence of this system. It was a statement that ONCE AGAIN, the lives of Black people mean NOTHING to those who sit atop this empire of injustice.

“This has to stop. NOW.

“Amerikkka has a long history of savage oppression of Black people going all the way back to the dragging of African people to this country in slave chains. This savage oppression continued after slavery was abolished in the form of Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror. And it’s still in effect today in mass incarceration and police given a green light to brutalize and even murder people. Police killed 2 Black men in St. Louis since Michael Brown was murdered. A 12 year old boy was murdered by police in a Cleveland playground just this past weekend.

“For weeks the authorities told people to remain calm and let the system work. For days we heard them threaten to unleash militarized police and the National Guard on any who would protest. Well, the system has worked-It’s let another murdering cop walk free. This amounts to the system giving a stamp of approval to police murder of Black people.

“And that is why it is so right, so just, and so necessary, that people are standing up! Within hours, people from the projects, from the campuses and beyond poured into the streets in righteous fury and defiant protest. They stood up to teargas in Ferguson. At 1 AM, thousands marched through the heart of NYC – from lower Manhattan through Harlem and have shut down the Triboro Bridge. Protesters blocked key freeways in LA and Oakland. Hundreds at the White House are staging die-ins. Actions ranging from prayer vigils to street protests, from Boston, Baltimore, Seattle, and beyond.

“There is no standing on the sidelines now.

“Bringing business as usual to a halt needs to continue and be built on. People need to stay in the streets. Don’t go to work. Walk out of school or make stopping this genocidal program what your schooling is about. People in the neighborhoods where police routinely brutalize and murder need to make their anger felt thru mass political resistance.

“And everybody needs to join in saying NO MORE to police murder. Athletes and musicians need to take a stand on this. Everyone has to take a side in this fight – Are you with the police who murder Black youth and the system that gives them a stamp of approval for their murderous actions? Or Are you with the people who are standing up and saying NO MORE to this shit? If you fail to act, you’re going along with the stamp of approval this system gives to police murder. But if you do act, you can be part of changing everything!

“What is at stake is the very world we will live in. Can you tolerate a world where the lives of Black people mean nothing? It’s that basic. If your answer is no, bring AmeriKKKa to a halt! And DON’T STOP UNTIL THERE IS JUSTICE AND THE MURDERER OF MICHAEL BROWN IS IN JAIL.”

I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

As you who read this blog will know, Shaker Aamer, from the UK, has been imprisoned in the Guantanamo torture camp for 13 years, though he is innocent of any aggression against anyone.  You can read more about him here and here. Shaker has been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama regimes, but is the last person from the UK still in the torture camp.

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Andy Worthington, whose extensive research and reporting about the Guantanamo prisoners has given us much of the information we have about them, is encouraging people to Stand With Shaker Aamer in an organized effort online and in the streets of London.  There is a website, facebook page, and more for those of us who cannot be there in person.  Andy asks that we send photographs of ourselves showing that we stand with Shaker.

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A sign such as this was suggested, but those who want to help in this effort can create a visual with a more personal message, if they care to.  The photographs with a message can be emailed to:

standwithshaker@gmail.com.

Will you join us?  Enough of US torture and indefinite imprisonment without charge.  Enough. I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER and with all of the remaining prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp.

Shaker Aamer with his children before his capture and imprisonment without charge by the US over a decade ago

Below is a link to the video advocating the release from Guantanamo of Shaker Aamer, cleared under both Bush and Obama regimes and still confined at the torture camp.  He is the last Briton there.

We Stand With Shaker

VICTIMS OF US TORTURE NOT QUESTIONED IN 2012 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The Guardian reports that the UN committee hearing in Geneva’s inquiry into the status of the US compliance with anti-torture law continues (see previous post).  Questions were posed to the US delegation about the Justice Department inquiry into US torture conducted by John Durham, assistant US attorney, that ended in 2012 and failed to result in any charges against anyone involved in US torture.

US delegate to meeting in Geneva during deliberations

Specifically members of the UN committee from Denmark and Georgia wanted to know why former prisoners who had contacted the committee had never been interviewed by US officials as part of that investigation.  Attorneys representing five other prisoners held by the CIA say that their clients were never interviewed either.

Guantanamo prisoner Walid Bin Attash, held at Guantanamo’s Camp 7 for “high value” prisoners, was a co-defendant in one of the egregious military tribunals at the torture camp. His lawyers say that Durham did not interview him.  Nor was Abu Zubaydah, whom the CIA has said they waterboarded 83 times, interviewed.  His lawyer Joe Margulies said he spoke with Durham during the inquiry, but there was no interview of his client.

Another of the prisoners’ lawyers, David Remes said, “It’s undeniable that the detainees who were tortured would have highly relevant information about their torture”.

The US is admitting all this torture, but an assistant secretary of state who testified, claimed that what counts is not failing to uphold the conventions, but “whether and how it corrects [mistakes].”  Read the complete article here.

I do not think that the massive torture imposed by the US was a mistake, but a deliberate policy.  In fact, torture continues at the Guantanamo camp and at other sites around the world to this day.  We will know that US torture is over when it is admitted without excuses for it, charges are brought against the officials who created and perpetuated the torture program and appropriate trials held, and when the camps and sites are closed and UN inspectors are invited to visit them to assure the world that they are closed.  Until then, it is business as usual in the torture department of the US.

US CHOSING TO CONTINUE TORTURE

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Though officials of the Obama administration are saying to the UN committee Against Torture at its meeting in Geneva that it will begin abiding by the UN Convention Against Torture on its own soil, it continues to claim that it is not obliged to do so when operating on foreign soil.

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Prisoner in US custody being tortured

This, of course, means that Guantanamo and US torture sites abroad are still in business.

Believe it or not Mary McLeod, acting US legal adviser at that meeting said, “The US is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world.”  She did concede that “in the wake of 9/11 attacks” the US “did not always live up to our own values. We crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

I am not sure how More’s latter statement squares with her former.  The US has been and continues to be a country that tortures and torture never accords with human rights nor does the US abide by international law in this matter among others.

See the full article here in which the Obama administration claims that the black sites do not fall under the jurisdiction of the UN treaty against torture.  Frankly, even if the UN were not to condemn it, I am opposed to any kind of torture, anywhere, ever.  I object in the strongest possible terms to my tax money going for torture and do everything I can legally to stop it.

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What can we citizens do to stop US torture?

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PRISONER RELEASED FROM GUANTANAMO

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Fawzi al Odah

Fawzi al Odah has been released from the US torture camp at Guantanamo after 13 years there.  Andy Worthington, world authority on the prisoners quoted many times on this blog, says that he learned from Jenifer Fenton, a writer for Al-Jazeera American whom he has met, that Fawzi’s father said Fawzi “excelled in school and graduated from Kuwait University with a degree in Islamic studies and became a teacher,” adding that Fawzi “had spent his summer vacation in 2000 with other religious Kuwaitis in Pakistan, teaching and distributing money to people in villages near the Afghan border.” On his return, “he told his father he was very interested in relief work and he wanted to do charity work every year.” For 2001, Khalid al-Odah said, “he planned to help Afghan refugees.”

Worthington continues with information from Fenton:

“However, as Fawzi himself explained at a hearing at Guantánamo a decade ago, it was his ‘bad luck and bad timing’ that the 9/11 attacks happened while he was in Afghanistan. Like many other Arabs, he fled the country, as news spread that foreigners were being sold for bounty payments, but as he crossed into Pakistan, despite asking to be taken to the Kuwaiti Embassy, he was sent to Guantánamo via the US prisons in Afghanistan.”

Alas, Fawzi is not the only aide worker to have been sold for bounty to the US, tortured and imprisoned in Guantanamo for over a decade.

Read the news report of his release here and what Andy Worthington says about him on his website here.

I am very glad to be able to report Fawzi’s release.  I lament the fact that 148 others languish in that torture camp where abuses continue to this day.  I also hope that Fawzi will not suffer the rest of his days form having lived nearly one third of his life in the torture camp.

What are we doing to help bring about the release of the remaining 148 men still in the Quantanamo torture camp? What are we doing to see that the US gives all 779 of the original prisoners restitution for the terrible wrongs done to them?  What are we doing about prisoners in other US black sites who have been or are being tortured?  We fool ourselves if we fail to recognize that abuse continues in Guantanamo and elsewhere under a second US administration.

US TORTURE CONDEMNED IN REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

“Since the United States last reported to the Committee Against
Torture in 2006, even more evidence has emerged confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created, designed, authorized, and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture. In August 2014, President Barack Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as partof its so-called “War on Terror,” yet the United States continues to shield senior officials from liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

That is the first paragraph of the report submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The action recommended by the authors of the report are:

“That the United States promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of
torture committed by their subordinates”

The report quotes Barack Obama’s widely reported statement from a press conference on August 1, 2014 that  “…even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

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Carrying the sign in DC

Though he admits openly that the US committed torture, which violates US and domestic law, he has done nothing to stop the torture that continues nor to hold those who created and perpetrate the system of US torture accountable.

I want to go on record again with my statement that torture is never acceptable.  I do not now nor have I ever given my consent as a citizen to torture.  I have protested US torture here in NYC and in Washington, DC at the White House and on the steps of the Supreme Court.  I continue to demand that the US government stop torture now.

Read the entire report here.