Friday, October 31, 2008

Citizens for Global Solutions Video & Report Cards on Elections and Candidates


Spiritual Leaders Vote for Change

Although I understand this photo to be real - this is independent of the following group of mostly US & US affiliated signers who are part of the movement: Spiritual Leaders for Change



Spiritual Leaders Who Have Signed on for Change...

Deepak Chopra
Jack Kornfield
Roshi Joan Halifax
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Stephan Rechtschaffen
Sister Jenna
Lama Drolma Palden
Dean Ornish MD
Reggie Ray
Krishna Das
Sylvia Boorstein
Jean Houston

Pema Chödrön
Marianne Williamson
Barbara De Angelis
Alex & Allyson Grey
Ed & Deb Shapiro
Oscar & Cindy Miro-Quesada
Swami Beyondananda
Peter Fenner
Robert Thurman
Jai Uttal
H.H. Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi
Lama Surya Das
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jack Canfield
Julia Butterfly Hill
Gay & Katie Hendricks
Pir Elias Amidon
Richard Moss
Eli Jaxson-Bear
Corinne McLaughlin
Gordon Davidson
Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi
Sharon Salzberg
Joan Borysenko
Judith Ansara & Robert Gass
...and more every day!


As spiritual leaders signing this letter we are stepping forward to say: “We can make a difference.” As our spiritual practice empties, opens and strengthens us, we are naturally moved to engage in the world with compassion, equanimity, and the dedication to live our values.

We know many of you are already both concerned and involved in this year’s Presidential election. Yet, in the past weeks, many of us have heard friends in the spiritual community expressing ambivalence about voting. When asked why they wouldn't vote we heard things like: “It doesn’t make any difference”; “I’m more interested in spiritual practice than politics”.

Humanity is at a crossroads. We can no-longer afford to sit on the sidelines. We are asking you to get engaged.

The 2000 presidential election was decided by just 500 votes and this November appears to be just as close. Every vote matters. Your vote and the votes in your community could make the difference.

Please make a heart-felt inquiry and look at the candidates. Ask yourself who best reflects the values you want to live by – those of spirituality in action.

* Who do you believe will lead this country and the world in the direction you would like to see it move?
* Which candidate will foster security through international cooperation rather than wars of aggression?
* Which candidate will move policy most quickly toward a sustainable habitable planet for future generations?
* Which candidate will most support our commitment to human rights and equal opportunity for all people?

...and then Vote. Let your voice be heard.

Together there is nothing we cannot do.

US Early Voting and Other Voting Information


Be sure to check with your local Democratic or Republican Headquarters for One Stop Voting...there are extended hours in some places. This means you may yet be able to both Register and Vote at the same time and place. But HURRY and check right Saturday may be your last day for One Stop and to register if you haven't yet done so.

US Scorecard on Torture ( National Religious Campaign Against Torture)

Congressional Scorecard on Torture


The NRCAT Action Fund Congressional Vote Scorecards may be useful to you as you consider your vote. Our Scorecards rate all incumbent Members of Congress on their torture-related votes. Click here to look up your Members.

Please also share our Scorecards with your friends.

As we've said before -- and as you already know -- the 2008 Elections are crucial to our efforts to end torture.

Thank you for your work to end U.S.-sponsored torture.


Linda Gustitus

Rev. Richard Killmer
Executive Director


Example of what we must stop:

10/31, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, U.S. rests in al Qaeda propaganda trial

10/31, Robert Nozick, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, Our Next President Is Sure to Improve on This Record

10/30, Yolanne Almanzar, New York Times, Son of Ex-President of Liberia Is Convicted of Torture

10/30, Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, Inquiry Targeted 2,000 Foreign Muslims in 2004

10/30, William Glaberson, New York Times, Questioning 'Dirty Bomb' Plot, Judge Orders U.S. to Yield Papers on Detainee

10/30, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, Navy judge refuses to resentence bin Laden driver

10/30, Derek Gatopoulo, Miami (FL) Herald, Amnesty seeks Guantánamo closure after U.S. election

Find links to these and MUCH more at Bill of Rights Defense Committee dot org

US Military Commissions Under Investigation

Brig. Gen. Thomas Harmann - Photo from Andy Worthington's Site Andy Worthington dot co dot uk (see the link below)

Corruption at Guantanamo: Military Commissions Under Investigation

In a third article looking at the corrupt chain of command in the Military Commissions at Guantanamo, Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, looks at the implications of the recently announced military investigations into the conduct of the Commissions’ former legal adviser, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, but doubts that either investigation will be encouraged to look up the chain of command to see who was pulling Hartmann’s strings.

Last month saw the “reassignment” of Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to Susan Crawford, the Convening Authority who oversees the Military Commissions at Guantánamo (the system of “terror trials” conceived by Vice President Dick Cheney and his close advisers in November 2001). Hartmann, who was appointed in July 2007, was removed from his post after three government-appointed military judges had disqualified him from playing any further part in two trials — those of Salim Hamdan and Mohamed Jawad — and had also excluded him from a post-trial review in the case of Omar Khadr, because of his transparent pro-prosecution bias.

Hartmann had certainly ignored the requirement in his job description (as laid down in the Military Commissions Act of 2006) to deal impartially with both the prosecution and the defense, as two unexpected critics had confirmed over the previous months. In August, Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, the deputy commander of Guantánamo’s Joint Task Force, testified that Hartmann’s demeanor was “abusive, bullying and unprofessional … pretty much across the board,” and in a memorable line described his approach as, “Spray and pray. Charge everybody. Let’s go. Speed, speed, speed.”

A few weeks ago Maj. David Frakt, the military defense lawyer for Mohamed Jawad, directed me to a deposition in Jawad’s case that was made in June by Capt. Patrick McCarthy, the Staff Judge Advocate of Joint Task Force Guantánamo, who noted that Hartmann was “remarkably aggressive” to him during meetings at Guantánamo, and that his “preferred approach” to personnel in Guantánamo was to “aggressively question” them, “and then when I attempted to interject and correct misunderstandings that were clear in the conversation, he would say things like, ‘who asked you? No one has asked you. You just be quiet.’ Things along those lines.”

As I also wrote in an article following Maj. Frakt’s correspondence with me:

Capt. McCarthy also testified that, as well as being bullying and dismissive to himself and, it seemed, every other officer below the rank of General or Admiral at Guantánamo, Hartmann had held several secure video teleconferences with the commanders at Guantánamo, and two face-to-face meetings, which, it appeared, were also part of his mission to “brief” commanders on how and when the trials would proceed, rather than allowing these issues to be developed by the prosecutors. As McCarthy described it, Hartmann “would closely identify himself with prosecutorial efforts,” was “involved at a level of detail that no other general or flag officer that I’ve ever worked for or with has ever been involved at,” and gave the impression that he was “responsible for moving forward with military commissions in all respects.”

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, which first announced the story of the investigations, Hartmann is facing investigations by both the Air Force and the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The latter, reflecting the testimony above, centers on complaints by at least two military officials about Hartmann’s “abusive and retaliatory behavior” towards them in the Office of Military Commissions, but the first is regarded as the more serious of the two, because military officials explained that “it was launched only after a preliminary inquiry found sufficient grounds to move forward.”

Investigators will look not only at allegations of Hartmann’s much-reported bullying, but more particularly at its baleful effects on the Commissions: cases proceeding to trial before they were ready (and in one instance on the basis of “charges that were unwarranted”), Hartmann’s insistence on using evidence obtained through coercion despite the objections of prosecutors, and “intentionally misleading statements,” which Hartmann made both in public and during the Commission proceedings, “in an effort to downplay the direct role that he played” on behalf of the prosecution.

These are all familiar complaints to those who have studied Hartmann’s tenure closely. As Capt. McCarthy explained in June, Hartmann had shown him a timeline of charges in November 2007, which indicated how many cases would proceed and when they would take place, and which also, of course, indicated that the decisions to proceed were not in the hands of the prosecutors, as they should have been. In a hearing at Guantánamo in the same month, Hartmann admitted that this timeline existed, but as Maj. Frakt explained, it was not until he compared the dates on Hartmann’s chart with the dates the prisoners were actually charged that he realized that they were remarkably similar. In a motion to dismiss in August, he wrote, “It is easy to come up with a sinister explanation for the congruence of the chart and the scheduling order. It is hard to come up with an innocent one.”

Col. Morris DavisMaj. Frakt also pointed out how Hartmann had persistently misrepresented his role in public announcements when charges were put forward in various cases (for example, here and here), when he “gave the impression that no decisions had been made by him, that he had no prior familiarity with the evidence and that he was taking an open-minded review of the evidence.” The issue of using coerced evidence was addressed by Col. Morris Davis (photo, left), the Commissions’ former chief prosecutor, who resigned in October 2007, the day after he had been put in a chain of command below Hartmann, who was himself answerable to the Pentagon’s chief counsel, William J. Haynes II. Complaining of political interference, and the desire by his superiors to use evidence obtained through coercion — or even through torture — to which he was implacably opposed, Davis explained last December that he resigned after concluding that “full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system.”

Unsurprisingly, both Col. Davis and Maj. Frakt have been “interviewed at length” by the Air Force inquiry’s chief investigator, Brig. Gen. Steven J. Lepper, who was assigned to the investigation after an unidentified military defense lawyer complained about Hartmann to Lt. Gen. Jack L. Rives, the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General, who in turn “referred the matter to his advisory committee on professional responsibility, which launched a preliminary inquiry and reported that a full investigation was warranted.”

Reiterating well-trodden complaints, Davis told the Los Angeles Times that Hartmann had “grossly exceeded his role as a neutral and independent and impartial legal advisor,” and Frakt said he “came forward with allegations about Hartmann because military regulations require one lawyer to report another if there is ‘a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.’” He added, “I do believe that Brig. Gen. Hartmann has acted in a manner that raises substantial questions as to his honesty, professionalism and fitness as a lawyer, and I believe his conduct has been prejudicial to the fair administration of justice in the military commissions.”

Another former prosecutor, who declined to be identified, told the Times that he too had been approached by Lepper. Reinforcing complaints aired above, he explained that he believed that Hartmann “was hammering on other prosecutors to move faster on cases, in one instance demanding that three or more cases a month be initiated,” even if they were not ready.

For opponents of Hartmann, the investigations will hopefully validate their many complaints about his excessive and inappropriate zeal. Although the investigations have no fixed timeline, the Times reported that, “if Hartmann was found to have acted improperly, he would face administrative sanctions that could include removal of his Judge Advocate General certification,” and other military lawyers suggested that Lt. Gen. Rives could “transfer Hartmann away from the Guantánamo cases or even ask for his retirement.”

Even more significantly, Scott Silliman of Duke University, who served in the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General Corps for 25 years, noted, “If there is a finding that Hartmann exceeded his role, I think every defense lawyer is going to walk in and move for some kind of relief in their case, and say it was not handled properly and move for the charges to be dismissed or refiled based on Hartmann’s activities.”

For me, this would be the best outcome of the investigations, for one simple reason. Much as I share numerous commentators’ delight that Hartmann’s exercise of undue command influence is being investigated, it is apparent, as I reported in a detailed article a month ago, that in many ways Hartmann was used by his superiors to act on their behalf and, simultaneously, to shield them from criticism. To understand the underlying reasons for the exercise of undue command influence in the Military Commissions, it is necessary to gaze up the chain of command to those who were directing Hartmann’s bias.

This chain of command, which caused Col. Davis to resign, leads from Hartmann to Susan Crawford, on to the Pentagon’s Chief Counsel (formerly Haynes, and now Daniel Dell’Orto), and from there to Dick Cheney and his chief of staff David Addington, the engineers of the whole malign project. For justice to have a chance to prevail, two investigations into Hartmann’s role are unlikely to be sufficient. Instead, the whole Commission process must be shut down, which will hopefully happen when a new administration takes office and the services of Cheney, Addington, Dell’Orto and Crawford are no longer required.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press).

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Also go Here for this article and others on the US Military Commissions as well as for information on the book -The Guantanamo Files- by Andy Worthington and to keep finding new items on Guantanamo, the Military Commissions and Tribunals and related and to find new items which will soon complete ALL the profiles of the Guantanamo detainees

Len Rubenstein's Speech in LA: Video/Archived Speech

Here for Video

Here for Speech Archived by Last Name or by Date

Here for General Information and to see Wide Array of speakers (including Michael V. Hayden, Director of the CIA)

Here for information on the book -The Guantanamo Files- by Andy Worthington and to keep finding new items on Guantanamo, the Military Commissions and Tribunals and related and to find new items which will soon complete ALL the profiles of the Guantanamo detainees

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Congo: War about You and Me? Deadliest war since Hitler marched across Europe?

How We Fuel Africa's Bloodiest War

What is rarely mentioned is the great global heist of Congo's resources

By Johann Hari

October 30, 2008 "The Independent" -- The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again – and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket. When we glance at the holocaust in Congo, with 5.4 million dead, the clichés of Africa reporting tumble out: this is a "tribal conflict" in "the Heart of Darkness". It isn't. The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by "armies of business" to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is a war about you.

Every day I think about the people I met in the war zones of eastern Congo when I reported from there. The wards were filled with women who had been gang-raped by the militias and shot in the vagina. The battalions of child soldiers – drugged, dazed 13-year-olds who had been made to kill members of their own families so they couldn't try to escape and go home. But oddly, as I watch the war starting again on CNN, I find myself thinking about a woman I met who had, by Congolese standards, not suffered in extremis.

I was driving back to Goma from a diamond mine one day when my car got a puncture. As I waited for it to be fixed, I stood by the roadside and watched the great trails of women who stagger along every road in eastern Congo, carrying all their belongings on their backs in mighty crippling heaps. I stopped a 27 -year-old woman called Marie-Jean Bisimwa, who had four little children toddling along beside her. She told me she was lucky. Yes, her village had been burned out. Yes, she had lost her husband somewhere in the chaos. Yes, her sister had been raped and gone insane. But she and her kids were alive.

I gave her a lift, and it was only after a few hours of chat along on cratered roads that I noticed there was something strange about Marie-Jean's children. They were slumped forward, their gazes fixed in front of them. They didn't look around, or speak, or smile. "I haven't ever been able to feed them," she said. "Because of the war."

Their brains hadn't developed; they never would now. "Will they get better?" she asked. I left her in a village on the outskirts of Goma, and her kids stumbled after her, expressionless.

There are two stories about how this war began – the official story, and the true story. The official story is that after the Rwandan genocide, the Hutu mass murderers fled across the border into Congo. The Rwandan government chased after them. But it's a lie. How do we know? The Rwandan government didn't go to where the Hutu genocidaires were, at least not at first. They went to where Congo's natural resources were – and began to pillage them. They even told their troops to work with any Hutus they came across. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a slice – so six other countries invaded.

These resources were not being stolen to for use in Africa. They were seized so they could be sold on to us. The more we bought, the more the invaders stole – and slaughtered. The rise of mobile phones caused a surge in deaths, because the coltan they contain is found primarily in Congo. The UN named the international corporations it believed were involved: Anglo-America, Standard Chartered Bank, De Beers and more than 100 others. (They all deny the charges.) But instead of stopping these corporations, our governments demanded that the UN stop criticising them.

There were times when the fighting flagged. In 2003, a peace deal was finally brokered by the UN and the international armies withdrew. Many continued to work via proxy militias – but the carnage waned somewhat. Until now. As with the first war, there is a cover-story, and the truth. A Congolese militia leader called Laurent Nkunda – backed by Rwanda – claims he needs to protect the local Tutsi population from the same Hutu genocidaires who have been hiding out in the jungles of eastern Congo since 1994. That's why he is seizing Congolese military bases and is poised to march on Goma.

It is a lie. François Grignon, Africa Director of the International Crisis Group, tells me the truth: "Nkunda is being funded by Rwandan businessmen so they can retain control of the mines in North Kivu. This is the absolute core of the conflict. What we are seeing now is beneficiaries of the illegal war economy fighting to maintain their right to exploit."

At the moment, Rwandan business interests make a fortune from the mines they illegally seized during the war. The global coltan price has collapsed, so now they focus hungrily on cassiterite, which is used to make tin cans and other consumer disposables. As the war began to wane, they faced losing their control to the elected Congolese government – so they have given it another bloody kick-start.

Yet the debate about Congo in the West – when it exists at all – focuses on our inability to provide a decent bandage, without mentioning that we are causing the wound. It's true the 17,000 UN forces in the country are abysmally failing to protect the civilian population, and urgently need to be super-charged. But it is even more important to stop fuelling the war in the first place by buying blood-soaked natural resources. Nkunda only has enough guns and grenades to take on the Congolese army and the UN because we buy his loot. We need to prosecute the corporations buying them for abetting crimes against humanity, and introduce a global coltan-tax to pay for a substantial peacekeeping force. To get there, we need to build an international system that values the lives of black people more than it values profit.

Somewhere out there – lost in the great global heist of Congo's resources – are Marie-Jean and her children, limping along the road once more, carrying everything they own on their backs. They will probably never use a coltan-filled mobile phone, a cassiterite-smelted can of beans, or a gold necklace – but they may yet die for one.

To save the lives of the victims of Congo's sexual violence, you can donate money

And/or write to the author of the above article

To read earlier item(s) on Johann's reporting on Congo, go Here

To Comment do so
Here And/Or place comment on this site One Heart For Peace - Do let me know if you are having difficulty getting into the Comments site here by emailing Connie - Please put in Subject Heading: One Heart For Peace on _________(topic). Perhaps for one aspect of helping to stop Congo war would be to discuss the more Congo-friendly cell phones if there are any? Or how you live just fine without them.

Thanks for tuning in!

TEXAS USA: Execution Watch
6:00 -- 7:00 pm CDT tonight

EXECUTION WATCH -- produced by Elizabeth Stein, hosted by Ray Hill, made possible by Otis McClay

NEW NOTE: Sadly, Gregory Wright's execution is complete...tune in for Houston (90.1) program on this horrific situation. Be patient if there are some other items while you wait. The archive on Wright should be available by tomorrow, Friday, October 31, 2008. If you are having any trouble with the links below, consider downloading free Winamp and using this link

Unless Gregory Wright gets the stay his attorneys and other supporters have been working to obtain, EXECUTION WATCH will have a show today at 6 p.m. CDT today to cover the state's execution of a man many believe to be innocent of the crime for which he was condemned.

Although KPFT's HD-2 channel remains out of service with Ike damage, EXECUTION WATCH may be heard on the internet, streaming live at Go to the website at 6 o'clock Central Daylight Time and click on the word "LISTEN". We'll do a show only if the state follows through with its plan to put Wright to death.


Person to be executed: GREGORY EDWARD WRIGHT

Wright's 43rd birthday is this Saturday. He received a stay for his previous date, September 9th, for additional DNA testing on clothing used to convict him in the 1997 stabbing death of Donna Duncan Vick at her home in DeSoto, south of Dallas. The prosecution said she took in Wright, who was homeless, giving him food, money and shelter. His wife, Connie Wright, met him while he was in prison.

Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON, Esq.

Featured Interview: PROF. MARY PENROSE
Professor Penrose is a member of the legal team for Wright's appeals. She teaches at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Her areas of emphasis include human rights, civil rights and habeas corpus.

Began corresponding with Wright after applying to a UK organization called Human Writes, , which finds penpals for US death row inmates. Bellamy, a retired educator who lives near London, became convinced of Wright's innocence.

Reporter, Huntsville, Death House: GLORIA RUBAC
Gloria is a leader in the movement to abolish the death penalty and has been active for many years in efforts to reform the prison system.

Additional Reporting, Huntsville: NANCY BAILEY
She's accompanying Wright's wife, Connie, to Huntsville. Nancy is on the board of Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, She is the death penalty coordinator for Amnesty International' s Houston chapter.

Any updates on Wright's stay will appear at executionwatch. org.
Creator of the site and EXECUTION WATCH technical director extraordinaire is Otis Maclay.

Elizabeth Ann Stein

US Constitution/Bill of Rights ALERT

Find all of these below at Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Simply go to BORDC dot ORG and scroll down for the is today's as well as archive going back 20 days...

New items come out each weekday at least by late afternoon ET

Oct 30, 2008, Web Wire, Federal Court Allows Bush Administration To Withhold Records Detailing Torture And Abuse Of Guantánamo Prisoners

Oct 30, 2008, Andrew Kalloch, Harvard Law Record, Report details medical evidence of detainee abuse

Oct 30, 2008, Andrew C. Martel, Morning Call, Politics influences CIA decisions, ex-agent tells Moravian College

Oct 30, 2008, Tarah Park, Jurist, Torture prevention provisions in US-Iraq security agreement needed: HRW

Oct 30, 2008, David McFadden, Fox News, 3 from NY terror case to testify at Gitmo trial

Oct 29, 2008, Eric Umansky, Pro Publica, Pentagon Investigating Gitmo Abuse? Who Knows

Oct 29, 2008, Media Newswire, Guantanamo Detainee Defenders to Receive Top Urban Morgan Honor

Oct 29, 2008, David Schanzer, News Observer, Ending the Gitmo disaster

Oct 29, 2008, Leslie Schulman, Jurist, US military judge excludes confession of Guantanamo detainee from trial

Oct 28, 2008, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, Marine judge orders access to secret Gitmo prison camp

Oct 28, 2008, Devin Montgomery, Jurist, Federal judge rules on meaning of 'enemy combatant'

Oct 28, 2008, Andy Worthington,, The Collapse of Omar Khadr's Guantánamo Trial

Oct 28, 2008, Julie Bykowicz, Baltimore Sun, Spying subjects allowed lawyers, copies of records

Oct 28, 2008, Peter T. Smith, Telegraph Journal (Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada), Will next president ban torture?

Oct 28, 2008, Jane Sutton, Reuters, Guantanamo man tortured into confessing: U.S. judge

Oct 28, 2008, Bruce Fein, Washington Times, Erosion on the Hill

Oct 27, 2008, Steve Czajkowski, Jurist, Former Guantanamo tribunals advisor target of military ethics probe

Oct 27, 2008, Ken Ballen, Peter Bergen, Foreign Policy, The Worst of the Worst?

Oct 26, 2008, Jurist, Detention of Uighurs at Guantanamo is inconsistent with US notions of justice

Oct 26, 2008, Devin Montgomery, Jurist, Torture still widespread despite international conventions: UN expert

Oct 26, 2008, David Wood, Baltimore Sun, Spying NSA's failures

Oct 26, 2008, Associated Press, Air Force Probes General For Actions at Guantanamo

Oct 26, 2008, Boston Globe, Congress must probe eavesdropping

Oct 25, 2008, Associated Press, Guantanamo trial for Canadian delayed

Oct 24, 2008, ACLU, ACLU calls on the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Agencies to Follow the Law and Provide a Public Report on U.S. Wiretapping

Oct 24, 2008, Associated Press, Guantanamo guards struggle with hunger striker

Oct 24, 2008, Kathleen Taylor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, It's time to begin restoring lost liberties

Oct 24, 2008, Charlie Savage, New York Times, Administration to Bypass Reporting Law

Oct 23, 2008, Ted Rall, State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), Next president's first act should be to close Gitmo

Oct 23, 2008, Stacy Sullivan, Salon, Confessions of a former Guantánamo prosecutor

Oct 23, 2008, Meg Kinnard, Associated Press, Former generals support accused combatant's case

Oct 23, 2008, Web Wire, ACLU Monitoring Unconstitutional Guantánamo Military Commissions This Week

Oct 23, 2008, Peter Finn, Washington Post, U.S. Pressed to Turn Over Detainee Papers

Oct 23, 2008, Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, Can't Touch This

Oct 23, 2008, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, Pentagon accuses 2 Kuwaitis of war crimes

Oct 23, 2008, Malcolm Nance, Jurist, New Pentagon policy for interrogation oversight is an outbreak of common sense

Oct 23, 2008, Jordan Paust, Jurist, The Case Against a National Security Court

Oct 22, 2008, Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, Foreign Affairs, From Great Game to Grand Bargain

Oct 22, 2008, William Fisher,, Freedom Recedes for Uighurs at Guantanamo

Oct 22, 2008, Randall Mikkelsen, Reuters, FBI chief to stay on under new president, aide says

Oct 22, 2008, Frederick News-Post (MD), Abusive listening

Oct 21, 2008, William Fisher, Public Record, Closing Gitmo? Dream On!

Oct 21, 2008, Andy Worthington,, When Is a Child Not a Child?

Oct 21, 2008, Editorial, Washington Post, What Colin Powell Also Said

Oct 21, 2008, William H. McMichael, Army Times, ACLU questions Army unit's NorthCom role

Oct 21, 2008, Laurie Kellman, Associated Press, Senate Democrats subpoena Mukasey over detainees

Oct 21, 2008, Associated Press, U.S. drops charges against 5 Gitmo detainees

Oct 21, 2008, Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post, Appeals Court Halts Release Of 17 Guantanamo Detainees

Oct 21, 2008, ACLU, ACLU Calls On Broadcasters To Stop Stifling Political Discourse On YouTube

Oct 20, 2008, Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, Bush Decides to Keep Guantánamo Open

Oct 20, 2008, Tom Corelis, DailyTech (IL), EFF: Telecom Immunity is Unconstitutional

Oct 20, 2008, Trading Markets, Memos need full review

Oct 19, 2008, Associated Press, For Gitmo lawyer, conscience versus duty

Oct 19, 2008, Jurist, Guantanamo's logistical obstacles frustrate defense counsel and thwart due process

Oct 19, 2008, Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica, ACLU, EFF challenge constitutionality of FISA amendments

Oct 17, 2008, Stacey Higginbotham, Giga Omni Media, EEF Challenges Telco Immunity in Court

Oct 17, 2008, Dan Slater, Wall Street Journal, Why Does the Government Want Hamdan's Sentence Reconsidered?

Oct 17, 2008, Margy Slattery, Yale (University) Daily News, Law clinic brings justice to prisoners

Oct 17, 2008, Liliana Segura, AlterNet, Private Military Contractors Writing the News?

Oct 16, 2008, Ryan Singel, Wired, Can Private Companies Helping the NSA Be Watchdogs, Too?

Oct 16, 2008, Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica, What will the NSA whistleblower revelations mean?

Oct 16, 2008, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, Welcome awaits Muslims from China held at Guantánamo

Oct 16, 2008, William Glaberson, New York Times, Release of 17 Guantánamo Detainees Sputters as Officials Debate the Risk

Oct 16, 2008, Andy Worthington, AlterNet, "Dirty Bomb" Charges Dropped Against Gitmo Prisoner Binyam Mohamed

Oct 15, 2008, New York Times, Snooping on Our Own Frontlines

Oct 15, 2008, Joby Warrick, Washington Post, CIA Tactics Endorsed In Secret Memos

Oct 15, 2008, Flavia Alaya,, Desperately Seeking Maggie

Oct 15, 2008, Charlie Savage, New York Times, Bush Declares Exceptions to Sections of Two Bills He Signed Into Law

Oct 15, 2008, All Headline News, Leahy, Specter Call For Probe Of NSA's Reported Wiretapping Of U.S. Soldiers, Journalists In Iraq

Oct 15, 2008, Jerusalem Post, Muslim man wants review of clearance revocation

Oct 14, 2008, Noah Shachtman, Wired, Top NSA Scribe Takes Us Inside The Shadow Factory

Oct 14, 2008, Lauren Vernon, The Hill, Waxman, Davis slam White House over 'privilege' claim

Oct 14, 2008, Kim Zetter, Wired, ACLU Says Recent NSA Spying Allegations Bolster its Lawsuit Against FISA Bill

Oct 14, 2008, John Aston, Aberdeen (UK) Press and Journal, US accused of Guantanamo delay strategy

Oct 14, 2008, Timothy Karr, Huffington Post, AT&T Promises Not to Spy on You... Sort Of

Oct 13, 2008, Editorial, Houston (TX) Chronicle, Free at last, almost

Oct 12, 2008, Editorial, New York Times, The Rule of Law in Guantánamo

Oct 12, 2008, Editorial, Los Angeles Times, The shadow of Gitmo

Oct 12, 2008, Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times, Guantanamo prosecutor who quit had 'grave misgivings' about fairness

Oct 12, 2008, Carol Rosenberg, Miami (FL) Herald, Judge: Al Qaeda accused get laptops at Guantánamo

Oct 10, 2008, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Major Shock: Eavesdropping Powers Abused Without Oversight

Oct 10, 2008, Dan Aalbers, Juan Gonzalez & Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, APA Approves Measure Banning Psychologists from Interrogations

Support Veterans Arrested at Debate Protests

Support the Nick Morgan & the Hempstead 15!

Please sign this petition by November condemning the trampling of Nick Morgan and others at the Oct. 15th anti-war protest at the last presidential debate at Hofstra University

Also learn more and find out how to support this crucial cause

Video coverage and more here (check back for the 55 slides with commentary by Bill Perry's)

Debate Protesters Attacked by Police - Web Coverage

A Personal Account by Matthis Chiroux

Monday, November 10th Court Appearance: Please join the Hempstead 15 in court Monday, 8 am (case starts at 9 am) Nov. 10th, at the Nassau County District Court at 99 Main Street in Hempstead, NY.

From the Hempstead 15: Ten members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and five of our supporters who make up the Hempstead 15 will be arraigned for "disorderly conduct" at 9 a.m. We're asking our supporters to show up at 8. Following the hearing, members of the Hempstead 15 will be available for questions and general socializing.

We ask that all supporters continue to respect the non-violent and reconciliatory nature and intent of our organization, particularly by helping us spread messages surrounding dignity and medical treatment for our veterans and acknowledgement of their voices which deserve to be heard.

Thank you for all you've done, thank you for what you're doing, and thank you for making what's to come a reality. May we always find people uniting around the ideals of freedom, justice and democracy, in times of war and peace alike.

Thank you for moving forward with us, and we look forward to seeing you all at the courthouse! (NOTE: 8 AM Monday, Nov. 10th, at the Nassau County District Court at 99 Main Street in Hempstead, NY)


Nick Morgan SGT, USA IVAW DC
Matthis Chiroux SGT, USA IVAW NYC
James Gilligan CPL, USMC IVAW Philadelphia
Kris Goldsmith SGT, USA IVAW NYC
Marlisa Grogan CPT, USMC IVAW NYC
Nathan Peld PO2, USN IVAW Central NY
Mike Spinnato CPL, USMC IVAW Boston
Geoff Millard SGT, ARNG IVAW DC
Paul Blasenheim Washington, DC
Megan Day Portchester, MA
David M. Disimino Tacoma Park, MD
Lianne Gillouly Boston, MA

Advice & Reminders from World Can't Wait Newsletter

Especially good advice and reminders from World Can't Wait latest newsletter:

What will happen in the next week, and how people feel about it, is unpredictable, and could shape the political terrain for good, or bad. Those of us how who have worked intently over the last few years to stop the Bush program, need to be out among the reservoir of people who have put so much hope in to Obama over the next week, learning, listening, and challenging people to stick to what it is they wanted -- and end to the endless wars and the disasters Bush represents.


On February 5, 2008 CIA Director Michael Hayden stood before Congress and admitted CIA officers aterboarded three detainees. Two days after Hayden's admission, U.N. High Commissioner fFor Human ights Louise Arbour classified waterboarding as torture.

On April 9, 2008 ABC News reported that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, John shcroft, Colin Powell, and George Tenet met regularly in the White House to discuss and approve arious forms of torture-including waterboarding-for use on detainees. On April 11, President eorge W. Bush himself admitted approving these meetings, saying: "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

As of December 2007, according to Amnesty International, the U.S. was known to be holding 275 etainees in Guantanamo Bay, ("Gitmo") Cuba. All but a handful of these detainees have never been harged, and have never received a trial. The vast majority of these detainees were turned over to the U.S. by warlords; they were not captured on the battlefield. Even the U.S. military only haracterizes only 8% of these detainees as Al-Qaeda fighters

Book Forum: The Politicized Squalor of the CIA

Sept/Oct/Nov 2008 Book Forum
Twilight of the Spooks
A pair of books expose the politicized squalor of the CIA

Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA
by Melvin A. Goodman

The CIA and the Culture of Failure: U.S. Intelligence from the End of the Cold War to the Invasion of Iraq
by John Diamond

...the CIA has become a slow-motion bureaucratic sacrifice within the intelligence community. Like the chinook salmon, it has been shedding body parts every year as it struggles upstream to expire. With New York Times reporter Tim Weiner’s dismissive 2007 study, Legacy of Ashes, the fate of the agency seems sealed—whenever the world changes, the New York Times is traditionally the last to know.

If studies such as Weiner’s supply the sources of the agency’s collapse, a pair of important new titles explore some of the hows and whys. In Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, one of the agency’s prickliest and most highly regarded analysts, Melvin A. Goodman, has given us an insider autopsy. Goodman worked for the CIA for decades and ultimately rose to senior analyst in the Office of Soviet Affairs. Throughout the ’80s, while I was putting together my group portrait of the founders of the CIA, The Old Boys, I kept picking up reverberations of Goodman’s unsettling presence in this brittle bureaucracy, his objections to the directorate’s skewed analytic product, in particular his corridor battles with Director William Casey and Casey’s ambitious, fast-rising deputy, Robert Gates. (When I recently had the opportunity to meet Goodman, to introduce him before a regional Council on Foreign Relations meeting, I discovered that he had not softened his judgments.)

More than anything else, Goodman’s testimony on the agency’s cold-war miscues helped convince Congress that Gates had soft-pedaled evidence that the Soviet Union was falling apart so as to help promote the Reagan administration’s bloated defense spending. As a result, Gates himself was turned down in 1987 on his first pass at the director’s job and waited in the shadows until 1991, when George H. W. Bush moved him up.

If there is a motif to Goodman’s unflinching primer, it is his concern that Harry Truman’s purpose in forming the agency in 1947—to supply policy makers with an accurate, unbiased version of what was happening out there—has been corrupted into a kind of lapdog readiness to bark in any direction the White House prefers. The ultimate and perhaps most tragic performance came in 2002, when a submissive agency supplied Colin Powell and other key policy makers those “slam dunk” assurances that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was bristling with weapons of mass destruction and maintained an umbilical relationship with al-Qaeda, charges the CIA’s own experts were well aware were largely trumped up. Goodman takes particular umbrage at the extent to which the agency has been “politicized” to support the fantasies of the regnant neocons.

...What is most valuable here is the amassing of insider details—which individuals thought what, who came down where as each crisis developed inside the gray seven-story fastness of Langley. For example, Goodman cites the inspired digging by two analysts, Richard Barlow and Peter Dixon, that alerted the agency during the middle ’80s that the Pakistani physicist A. Q. Khan was buying restricted nuclear technology from sources in the United States and Europe. Khan would subsequently provide atomic secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Because it was the Reagan administration’s policy just then to coddle Pakistan, elements in our intelligence community suppressed these revelations, and in the end, Pakistan surprised us with its own nuclear arsenal. The intra-agency outcome was predictable: For discoveries that embarrassed the politicians, both analysts got fired.

Never much of an enthusiast when it came to the covert-warfare (operations) side of the agency, Goodman is fair enough to itemize what successes there are on the human-intelligence side, from the softening up of Poland by way of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity union to the tracking of insurgents such as Che Guevera and Carlos the Jackal. What haunts Goodman is the prevalence of blowbacks after purportedly successful operations—the extent to which our interference in Iran in 1953, for example, undermined the rule of the parliament and set up the ayatollahs, or the way our opportunistic support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the ’80s created Osama bin Laden.

A kind of nostalgia crops up as Goodman roves across the decades. He himself joined the agency in 1966, just as the first generation of analytic pioneers was nearing retirement. OSS veterans Sherman Kent of Yale and William Langer of Harvard were old-fashioned enough to insist on the integrity of the intelligence-gathering process and helped create autonomous entities like the Office of National Estimates, which produced the original and highly respected National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), attempts at completely objective, politically—and, more significant, economically—unbiased treatments of important concerns of the White House. But too often, these analyses turned out too unbiased for the agency’s political masters; historical context and the long-term implications of agency directives gradually disappeared from the NIEs. By the Clinton years, the President’s Daily Brief from the CIA lagged behind CNN reporting in accuracy and regional insight.

By Goodman’s lights, prospects for the agency are bleak. During the late ’70s, revelations by the Church Committee highlighting agency abuses—from assassination planning to a long list of regime replacements in third world countries—led to the appointment of select committees in both houses of Congress to thwart, or at least anticipate, future mischief. Major covert operations required the issuance of a presidential “finding.” In some cases, the interference—and leaks—by Congress headed off the worst blunders, such as the Iran-Contra travesty, sufficiently to keep the fallout from utterly poisoning our foreign affairs. But behind the scenes, agency lawyers were hard at work. A new category of information, “compartmented intelligence,” was created for classified material too sensitive to be entrusted to mere lawmakers. Complaints to the chief executive by the Pentagon after 1991 led to the extraction from the CIA of perhaps its most successful and innovative programs, the interpretation of U-2 and satellite surveillance technology, which since the ’50s had provided uncorrupted order-of-battle information about the Soviet bloc. Entire new bureaucracies—the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the National Photographic Interpretation Center, the National Reconnaissance Office—now joined the National Security Agency among the unpublicized technological workshops tucked in solidly beneath the eagle’s wing inside the Pentagon’s vast budget.

Soon after taking office, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld launched within his own department the Office of Special Plans, an unembarrassed attempt to co-opt the CIA’s Operations Directorate—which promptly found itself depopulated, marginalized, and renamed the National Clandestine Service. More than half of the supersensitive work in operations would now be contracted to private firms. As Goodman specifies, as early as 2002, “Rumsfeld’s . . . Office of Special Plans produced disinformation to support the case for war.” In 2004, a new, supreme supervisory entity, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), was granted authority to institute a level of management above the CIA, whose leader since 1947 had technically functioned as the DCI—director of Central Intelligence—the overseer of all sixteen intelligence services. The newly constituted DNI would even come up with its own competing counterterrorism center. Senior generals currently oversee both the CIA and the DNI. The utter militarization of intelligence in America that Goodman feared all along has evidently come to pass.

Entropy inside the agency also preoccupies John Diamond in The CIA and the Culture of Failure. An assiduous young reporter who broke in with the Associated Press and moved on to defense and intelligence affairs with the Chicago Tribune and USA Today, Diamond has put together a sequence of long, trenchant, truly eclectic essays on the CIA’s internal workings, consistently stressing its tendency to outsmart itself. He has astutely canvassed active and recently retired agency personnel, cultivated top personalities in the congressional-oversight committees, combed through the documents and professional literature, and emerged with fine-grained, fair-minded analyses. The result is a collection of riveting specific case studies, with sharp and frequently surprising judgments.

Utilizing late-Soviet-era documents, Diamond is especially effective at pointing up how the unending game of blindman’s buff between the aging superpowers has actually been played. He traces, move by move, the series of misjudgments that led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which effectively restarted the cold war. He follows the reasoning that tempted agency planners, aware of their own complicity in provoking the Catholic Church and Solidarity to rise up against the Soviet occupation in Poland, to conclude that the Russians were certain to move main-force units into Poland if the disruptions continued. In this, as in so many other smoldering situations, the CIA brain trust was measured, logical—and wrong...

Diamond takes a serious look at the role of April Glaspie, the US ambassador to Iraq whose 1990 observation to Saddam Hussein, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts,” left her the scapegoat when the Iraqi dictator actually marched into Kuwait. The fact was, the preponderance of agency analysts were telling the US government that Hussein was bluffing. Although the renegade analyst Kenneth Pollack kept insisting that the buildup on the border suggested an invasion really was imminent, his conclusions were militantly ignored and, like so many other unwelcome opinions, wound up largely excised from the official histories.

One of the book’s most compelling studies comes courtesy of Diamond’s inspired mousing around in the Aldrich Ames case. There exists a spate of books detailing the transgressions of this midlevel operator. A listless drunk whose bad tradecraft all but lit him up as he rummaged the intelligence suburbs of DC throughout the Casey years, passing his Soviet handlers the agency’s deepest secrets, Ames would later insist that he was selling out not his country but rather the CIA, “because of his disdain for its role in perpetuating the Cold War.”

Diamond concludes that the unraveling in public of the Ames case “hurt the reputation and morale of the Directorate of Operations as had nothing in CIA history going back to the Bay of Pigs.” Ames had betrayed as many as thirty agents in place in the Moscow area. What Diamond is shrewd enough to recognize is that the Ames revelations not only steamrolled the agency; they convulsed the KGB, “which suddenly realized the extent to which it had been penetrated by the CIA.” Worse, Ames’s itemization of the various ingenious technical penetrations the agency had in place, from tapping undersea cables to photographing railcars moving heavy ordnance around the provinces, undermined the Soviet assumption that they were the masters of the game. Clinton’s first CIA director, James Woolsey, called the Ames debacle “a systematic failure of the CIA,” but before long, he lost his post, in good part for mollycoddling the senior agency officers who had mollycoddled Ames.

The widely perceived failures of nerve and imagination highlighted in the Ames case generated ripple effects, which helped undermine professional self-confidence and bring down intelligence establishments on both sides of the iron curtain. With Diamond’s detailed treatment of key, catalytic incidents alongside Goodman’s insider revelations, the astute reader can appreciate the many setbacks—more than a few self-inflicted—that in turn produced full-blown debacles such as the Ames case and the falsified assessments that sparked the Iraq war.

Burton Hersh is the author of The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA (Scribner, 1992) and Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America (Carroll & Graf, 2007). Esquire will publish his investigation of the US media’s role in suppressing crucial facts about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rubenstein to Speak on US Torture in LA Wednesday

Len Rubenstein (See Bio Below) is to Speak on US Torture at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council
Physicians for Human Rights President Len Rubenstein will address the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Wednesday, October 29 on “Intelligence Gathering, Torture, and the Future of Interrogation in U.S. Anti-Terrorist Operations.”

Mr. Rubenstein’s leadership on PHR investigation of the Bush Administration’s coercive interrogations of detainees culminated in Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Since PHR published Broken Laws Broken Lives, Mr. Rubenstein has consulted actively with military officials and Congressional offices on revisions to US policy that would ensure an end to US government participation in illegal coercive interrogations.

The Los Angeles World Affairs Council is a non-partisan public affairs forum whose membership is comprised of business and community leaders. Recent speakers at the Council have included CIA Director Michael Hayden and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

For more information about Mr. Rubenstein’s address, visit Here (and check back at this same site for more information updated soon)

Mr. Rubenstein has spent thirty years engaged in advocacy for human rights and health domestically and internationally. He has led human rights investigations throughout the world and in recent years his work has encompassed global HIV/AIDS; human rights and health systems development, gender inequality and health, and human rights dimensions of U.S. anti-terror policies and practices. He has written extensively, both for scholarly publications and in major media such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe, about the relationship of human rights and health, including the role of human rights organizations in advancing social, economic and cultural rights.

Physicians for Human Rights is an organization that mobilizes the health professions to advance human rights. For details and to sign up for newsletter,go Here

PHR has established in a scientific manner that claims of torture by detainees in American custody could, in fact, be substantiated via medical examination. Their findings were published in a report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

[Editor's note: This photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Book to Read Now!

See Andy Worthington's site often!

The Guantánamo Files: Additional Chapters Online - Escape to Pakistan (Uyghurs and others)


The Guantanamo Files (from Andy Worthington)

I’ve just posted the sixth of 12 additional online chapters supplementing my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press). This additional chapter complements Chapter 7 of The Guantánamo Files, looking at the stories of 15 prisoners not mentioned in the book. They were amongst the 250 or so prisoners (almost a third of Guantánamo’s entire population) who were captured crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001. The others seized at this time (mainly Saudis and Yemenis) are discussed in Chapters 5 and 6, and in the additional online chapters here, here and here.

Featuring some stories that were not available at the time of writing, and others that were excluded to keep the book at a manageable length, this additional chapter also focuses on the stories of eight of the 18 Uyghurs (or Uighurs), Chinese Muslims who had fled persecution in their homeland, and were living in a run-down settlement in the Tora Bora mountains.

Unconnected with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban, the Uyghurs have long been the most unfortunate group of prisoners at Guantánamo, and their story is currently very topical, as, after years of abuse, neglect and political manipulation by the authorities, their release into the United States was ordered by a District Court judge on October 7. The government has appealed, reviving long-discredited claims that the men remain a threat to the United States, but I hope the stories in this additional chapter help to demonstrate that the opposite is true; that the Uyghurs have only one enemy (the Chinese government), and that they have long looked to the United States as a potential savior, and a beacon of democracy.

NOTE: Additional online chapters are available:
For one example:

Go Here

Also be sure to go to Andy's site often!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Guantanamo guards struggle with hunger striker

By BEN FOX, Associated Press Writer Ben Fox, Associated Press Writer 23 mins ago

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Three years ago, the man known as Internment Serial Number 669 stopped eating.

Ahmed Zaid Zuhair, a father of 10 children in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, had been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 without charges and decided to join a mass hunger strike in protest. The U.S. military was determined not to let him succeed.

Since then, according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press, guards have struggled with him repeatedly, at least once using pepper spray, shackles and brute force to drag him to a restraint chair for his twice-daily dose of a liquid nutrition mix force-fed through his nose.

The documents, filed in federal court in Washington, are a rare look at the military tactics used on hunger strikers, which have sparked international condemnation but remained hidden from view, with officials refusing to even confirm the identity of the men taking part in the protest.

Zuhair's attorney, Yale Law School lecturer Ramzi Kassem, says the tactics described in the documents amount to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." The military says the only reason it uses such tactics is that Zuhair is violent and dangerous.

"ISN 669 has a very long history of disciplinary violations and noncompliant, resistant and combative behavior," according to Army Col. Bruce Vargo, commander of Guantanamo Bay's guards.

Zuhair's protest is the remnant of a mass hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay that began in the summer of 2005, with prisoners celebrating the 10 Irish Republican Army and Irish National Liberation Army militants who starved themselves to death in Britain's Maze prison in 1981 while demanding political-prisoner status.

At its peak, there were 131 prisoners refusing meals at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. The U.S. began force-feeding prisoners, but some were regurgitating the liquid-nutrient mix. In January 2006, commanders adopted a practice borrowed from American civilian prisons of strapping detainees into a special restraint chair for the feedings, and the number of strikers quickly dropped off.

Eventually there were just two: Zuhair, 43, and another Saudi, Abdul Rahman Shalabi. The number has since fluctuated and 12 were participating on Friday.

A number of prisoners have alleged brutal treatment during the hunger strike, and lawyers and human rights groups have accused guards of using unnecessary force. Kassem and other attorneys say their clients have mostly complied with the force-feeding, and that the U.S. has used rough treatment in an effort to break the strike.

Physicians for Human Rights, the World Medical Association and the United Nations, among others, have condemned the use of restraint chairs and other tactics as a violation of U.S. law and basic human rights principles.

The U.S. military has denied any abuse, though it has offered few if any details about what happens between guards and prisoners behind the coiled-razor wire.

Navy Cmdr. Pauline Storum, a spokeswoman for the detention center, said Friday the military was required "under federal law and Department of Defense policy, to preserve the health and well-being of all detainees under our control."

"When a detainee refuses to comply with guard instructions to leave his cell in order to receive necessary medical care, we will use the minimum force necessary ... in order to preserve life," including by tube feeding, she said.

And while the U.S. considers the detainees "enemy combatants" for whom the Geneva Conventions do not apply, it maintains it treats them in a humane manner that in some ways exceeds international standards.

The court documents, affidavits and filings recently submitted as part of Zuhair's challenge of his confinement provide the first detailed picture of his struggles with guards.

On the evening of July 17, for example, two Navy sailors took Zuhair to be fed. When they finished, they say the 5-foot-5, 136-pound, Zuhair violently squirmed to avoid being taken back to his cell. He cursed at them and said his shackles were too tight.

They searched him for contraband and put him back in his cell, they said, and he responded with chilling words:

"Come in my cell, I will cut off your head," he said in English, according to their account. "You are scared. I can tell. Come in my cell. I will cut off your head."

Four weeks later, on Aug. 14, Zuhair refused to come out of his cell for a force-feeding in what his lawyer described as a protest against rough treatment of the hunger strikers.

Five guards strapped on body armor, helmets and face shields and went in for him. One guard shot pepper spray through a hole in the door, but Zuhair knocked away the can. The five men wrestled him to the ground.

"He fought briefly with the guards before five of them were able to place him on his stomach," an officer said. "It took an additional several minutes to shackle ISN 669."

The court documents describe other clashes involving Zuhair. One day in June, he "became aggressive and tried to break free" from guards, the military said.

Navy Capt. Bruce Meneley, the doctor in charge of prisoner care, said wounds on Zuhair's head and face were stitched up after "scuffles" with guards in April 2003 and January 2007.

Zuhair was captured in Pakistan and taken to Guantanamo in June 2002. He has not been charged with a crime, although the military says he trained with the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and was a member of an Islamic fighting group in Bosnia in the mid-1990s that received money from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The U.S. also claims he was involved in the November 1995 shooting death of an American U.N. employee, William Jefferson of Camden, N.J., in Bosnia.

Zuhair denies the allegations. In addition to seeking his release, his legal team has asked for his medical records, an examination by an independent doctor and surveillance video that might support his claims of mistreatment. The U.S. military has refused.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Meltdown at the Guantánamo Trials by Andy Worthington (some kind of Christian fable)

24.10.08 Andy Worthington's Site is the MOST important & helpful site to watch in the days ahead on as far as Guantanamo goes--and the items are almost on a daily basis--Go Here

Here's his latest:

Meltdown at the Guantanamo Trials by Andy Worthington

Recent events at Guantánamo are turning out like some kind of Christian fable. A principled military officer — politically Conservative, and a devout Catholic — who served in Iraq, where he was “praised by his superiors for his bravery,” and was now serving his government as a prosecutor in a system of special trials conceived for prisoners held in the “War on Terror,” began to uncover information, withheld from the defense teams, which indicated that all was not right with the system.

In one of his cases — that of Mohamed Jawad, an Afghan alleged to have thrown as grenade at a jeep containing two US soldiers and an Afghan translator — he discovered that the defendant was just 16 or 17 years old at the time of the attack, and, moreover, that evidence indicating that he was drugged before the attack, and that two other men confessed to the crime, had been deliberately suppressed. As the Los Angeles Times explained, it encouraged a radical shift in his views, as he had initially been convinced that Jawad was “a war criminal who had been taught by an al-Qaeda-linked group to kill American troops and, if caught, to make up claims he had been tortured and was underage.”
Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld--

Doubting his job, the officer — Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld — turned to a priest for advice. “I am beginning to have grave misgivings about what I am doing, and what we are doing as a country,” he explained in an email to Father John Dear, a Jesuit peace activist. “I no longer want to participate in the system, but I lack the courage to quit. I am married, with children, and not only will they suffer, I’ll lose a lot of friends.” Dear encouraged him to act, saying he might “save lives and change the direction of the entire policy.”

Fortified by the priest’s advice, Vandeveld resigned his post, denouncing the trial system — the Military Commissions — as a rigged system in which “potentially exculpatory evidence” was “not provided” to the defense teams. In a statement, he explained how the Commissions’ Convening Authority (Susan Crawford, a protégée of Dick Cheney and the Pentagon-appointed supervisor of the trials) and her legal adviser (Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who was recently removed from his post after three judges ruled that he had demonstrated pro-prosecution bias) conspired to prevent the disclosure of evidence. “I have observed,” he wrote, “that a number of defense requests which I considered to be reasonable and in some cases indicated support for were nevertheless rejected by the Convening Authority, presumably on the advice of the Legal Adviser.”

He also explained that, although his own practice “has been to relinquish immediately any piece of evidence I have come across to the defense,” this was “not universally practiced at OMC-P [the Prosecutors’ Office of the Military Commissions],” and provided an almost casual example of the suppression of evidence, which served to indicate how routine it was:

To take the Jawad case as only one example — a case where no intelligence agency had any significant involvement — I discovered just yesterday that something as basic as agents’ interrogation notes had been entered into a database, to which I do not have personal access … These and other examples too legion to list are not only appalling, they deprive the accused of basic due process and subject the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct.

After explaining that his view of Jawad’s case had “evolved over time,” as he had learnt more about it, he declared, “One of my motivations in seeking a reasonable resolution of the case is that, as a juvenile at the time of capture, Jawad should have been segregated from the adult detainees, and some serious attempt made to rehabilitate him. I am bothered by the fact that this was not done.” And then, reaching deep into the heart of his faith, he delivered an extraordinary example of Christian compassion: “I am a resolute Catholic and take as an article of faith that justice is defined as reparative and restorative, and that Christ’s most radical pronouncement — command, if you will — is to love one’s enemies.”

His former masters — at the Pentagon, and in the Office of the Vice President, whose views of the Bible are based almost exclusively on their relish for smiting their enemies — were so disturbed by Vandeveld’s conversion, and mindful of the damage caused by previous prosecutors who resigned, that, according to Maj. David Frakt, Jawad’s military defense lawyer, the chief prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, sought to subject Vandeveld to a “psychological exam.”

When that failed to silence him, and after he had reiterated his complaints in testimony for Jawad’s defense, explaining that he “reached a turning point” when he chanced upon “key evidence among material scattered throughout the prosecutors’ office,” which “helped convert him from a ‘true believer to someone who felt truly deceived,’” they issued dark warnings when he subsequently conducted an email exchange with the Los Angeles Times, reminding him that he “could not talk to the press until his release from active duty is final.”

Nevertheless, his final words to the Los Angeles Times were even more damaging to the administration. He wrote that anyone who knows him “will probably tell you that I’ve been a conformist my entire life, and [that] to speak out against the injustice wrought upon our worst enemies entailed a weather shift in my worldview,” and delivered a final observation about the Commissions that managed to combine his Christian beliefs with his patriotic feelings. “I don’t know how else the creeping rot of the commissions and the politics that fostered and continued to surround them could be exposed to the curative powers of the sunlight,” he explained, adding, “I care not for myself; our enemies deserve nothing less than what we would expect from them were the situations reversed. More than anything, I hope we can rediscover some of our American values.”

Despite the administration’s attempts to silence and belittle him, Vandeveld succeeded in exposing the Commissions’ corrupt processes to the “curative powers of the sunlight.” Although his masters refused to drop the charges against Mohamed Jawad, they were so concerned that he would again testify for the defense in five other cases for which he was responsible — revealing, quite possibly, more extraordinary tales of suppressed evidence and incriminating documents stumbled upon by mistake — that they dropped all the charges against these prisoners on October 21.
Abu Zubaydah

The five men in question are loosely related. Ghassan al-Sharbi and Jabran al-Qahtani (both Saudis), Sufyian Barhoumi (an Algerian) and Noor Uthman Muhammed (from Sudan) were captured with Abu Zubaydah (photo, left), a training camp facilitator regarded by the US administration as a senior al-Qaeda operative, in a house raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on March 28, 2002. 13 days later, Binyam Mohamed, a British resident, was seized at an airport in Pakistan, and was subsequently accused of having a connection with Abu Zubaydah and other senior figures in al-Qaeda.

As I have explained in previous articles, the extent of the first four men’s involvement with terrorism is largely unknown, as, with the exception of al-Sharbi, who has openly declared his membership of al-Qaeda, they have either spoken little (al-Qahtani), refuted all the allegations against them (Barhoumi) or claimed that Abu Zubaydah and the training camp had nothing to do with al-Qaeda (Muhammed).

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed’s case is more extreme — and more worrying for the administration — as courts in both the UK and the US have been circling ever closer to demanding evidence of his rendition by the CIA to 18 months of torture in Morocco, and his subsequent rendition to a CIA torture prison near Kabul. Such is the government’s concern about this evidence being revealed that last week the Justice Department dropped its long-standing claim that Mohamed was involved in a plot to detonate a “dirty bomb” in a US city (a claim which Mohamed says was based on a false confession extracted from him through torture), but although it’s tempting to conclude that this was the reason that the charges against him were subsequently dropped in his proposed trial by Military Commission, it is, on its own, insufficient to explain why the charges in Vandeveld’s other cases were also abandoned.

The key to this whole story, therefore, is Lt. Col. Vandeveld, even though the Pentagon denied yesterday that his testimony ”had anything to do with the charges being dropped,” and the Associated Press noted that the Pentagon reports “recommending dismissal said only that the new prosecution teams taking over the cases needed more time to evaluate them.” Although the AP also quoted comments made by the Commissions’ new legal adviser, Michael Chapman, in two reports seen by the AP, in which he stated, “I find the prosecution has been unable to complete its preparation for this case,” it’s difficult not to conclude that the Pentagon is terrified that Vandeveld knows something profoundly disturbing about the cases — perhaps to do with the FBI’s long-standing claim that Zubaydah, who was waterboarded in a secret CIA prison, was a minor logistician with a personality disorder, and not an al-Qaeda mastermind, or perhaps to do with suppressed evidence about these men’s actual role, or lack of it, in the “War on Terror.”

We have clearly not heard the end of this story, but although Binyam Mohamed’s civilian lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of the legal action charity Reprieve, explained that “Military prosecutors have told us that they are going to refile charges in about 30 days,” I cannot understand how the Pentagon proposes to silence Lt. Col. Vandeveld if the cases are revived. Unless, of course, the authorities intend to send him to Guantánamo, to replace the prison’s only other known Christian detainee, a young Iranian named Abdul Majid Mohammed, who was released in October 2006.

As I explained in my book The Guantánamo Files, Mohammed, who was a dirt-poor well-digger, admitted that he occasionally dealt in opium and hashish, and said that he went to Afghanistan in December 2001 to make money out of drugs in order to bribe the Iranian military so that he would not be punished for desertion. In his tribunal at Guantánamo, he denied an allegation that he served as a watchman for the Taliban, explaining that the Taliban had been known to kill Iranians, and that he was particularly at risk because he was a Catholic, and said that he was captured by Northern Alliance soldiers, who decided they could sell him to US forces by pretending he was an Arab.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press). To find more about this book and ONGOING, Interactive items nearly every day Go Here

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation -- fff dot org

High Court shocked by US obstruction in Guantánamo torture case


Binyam Mohamed “Contempt of court” is the title of an article I wrote for the Guardian’s “Comment is free” section today, in which I looked at the UK High Court’s latest judgment in the case of British resident and Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed, a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture who is engaged in a transatlantic struggle to secure exculpatory evidence proving that his confessions — of involvement with al-Qaeda and a “dirty bomb” plot — were extracted through the use of torture.

On Tuesday I reported how the US Defense Department had dropped Binyam’s proposed trial by Military Commission (and those of four other prisoners) following the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the prosecutor in all five cases, and this latest article brings the British side of the story up to date. It is, of necessity, inconclusive, as the judges are awaiting a ruling on the exculpatory evidence in a US court, but it was clear yesterday that Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Lloyd Jones were appalled by the lengths to which the US administration seems prepared to go to avoid having to release the evidence.

I intend to write about the judgment in more detail in the near future, but in the meantime I hope that this article captures the essence of yesterday’s ruling.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press/the University of Michigan Press). You will find many others by him and urls to his work on this blogsite.

Symposium brings violence against women to the forefront--Texas, USA

"It is not enough to go through life being 'a good guy,'" he said. "Men must take a greater role in human rights on behalf of women everywhere. This is our gender-based job. We have to be human rights advocates and defenders of women everywhere." Halperin ended his opening statements by saying, "these women have done more than survive. They have triumphed."

Quotes from Dr. Rick Halperin, Director of the Human Rights Education Program at Southern Methodist University Dallas, Texas USA

Oct. 24


Symposium brings violence against women to the forefront

They come from different backgrounds: Uganda, Iran, Argentina, Palestine and the United States. Their stories are different: wars, religious dictatorships, military coups and sex trafficking.

But these five women have all experienced violence.

They came together on Thursday night to share their experiences and to bring awareness of the global issue of violence against women.

"These are the great crimes in the world," said Rick Halperin, Director of the Human Rights Education Program. "No county is immune from this plague...

...Women are targets everywhere."

Halperin said these crimes will be passed down and a legacy of anger will be in future generations if these crimes are not solved and if there is no punishment or justice.

He said the main problem is men. According to Halperin, men commit most of the crimes in the world. The average human rights violation act is committed by a man against a woman.

"All men have women in their lives; we just call them different names," Halperin said.

He went on to say that they were mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. He noted that most men are outraged when such acts are committed to women that are in their lives. However, Halperin said it was a "pity" that these feelings don't extend beyond their own immediate circle.

"It is not enough to go through life being 'a good guy,'" he said. "Men must take a greater role in human rights on behalf of women everywhere. This is our gender-based job. We have to be human rights advocates and defenders of women everywhere."

Halperin ended his opening statements by saying, "these women have done more than survive. They have triumphed."

Kidnapped, tortured in Argentina

Ana Maria Careaga was one of the "disappeared. "

During the Dirty War of Argentina that lasted from 1976 to 1983, many citizens were detained and tortured. It is estimated that 30,000 people were "disappeared" during this time, including about 500 babies who were stolen from their mothers and whose real identities were replaced.

Careaga, speaking through a translator, said the babies were taken as "war booty." About 95 of these babies have been recovered and identified due to the efforts of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Maya.

The military coup that occurred in Argentina on March 24, 1976 was one of the "most cruel and unprecedented, " according to Careaga, who noted that it was not the only coup in the area. She explained that Operation Condor,a campaign of political repressions, occurred throughout South America and was supported by the United States.

In Argentina, there were 502 clandestine detention centers, 46 in the capital of Buenos Aires. Though the number was great, Careaga said the methodologies used were the same.

About 500 people were taken to the Naval Mechanic School (ESMA) during this time. Careaga herself was taken to another detention center, Club Atletico, which was located in the basement of the supplies building on the federal police.

She was 16 and three months pregnant when she was taken in 1977.

"I was tortured there for four months," she said. Careaga explained that while she was detained, she lost her identity and became "K04."

"In those places, being a women meant more cruel punishment and torture,"
she said.

Careaga said her family had been persecuted; her parents were refugees from Paraguay. When she and her brother-in-law were kidnapped, her family began to meet and walk in the Plaza de Maya because they could not find any information about what happened. People still walk in the Plaza today.

Careaga was eventually released and fled to Brazil. She then moved to Sweden as a refugee. After she was released, Careaga had her daughter. Three days later, when she called her family to let them know, Careaga found out that her mother had been kidnapped.

In what is now known as the "Abduction of the Santa Cruz Church," Careaga's mother and several others were taken when a naval officer infiltrated the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Maya.

Careaga did not discover her mother's whereabouts until July 2005, when declassified documents showed that the U.S. embassy in Argentina had identified the remains of her body in 1977.

"It proves that the U.S. embassy knew what took us 20 years to find out," she said.

Today Careaga is the director of the Space for Memory Institute, which promotes public policies for the memory and human rights. She also speaks out against state terrorism in Argentina.

Careaga said that her mother and the others continue to fight today, even though they are dead.

"They will tell the world what happened," she said.

A country ravaged by conflict

Jessica Okello believes "you can't talk about women without talking about children."

She said women and children were the "most vulnerable."

In Uganda, she said, many have lost their "dear ones," in the struggle of one rebel tribe against the government.

Okello is the National Coordinator in the Women and Children Ministry in Uganda.

"The people who has suffered the most is the women," Okello said.

Why? Because, she said, women must watch as their children are forced to fight. In addition, girls are not allowed to go to school. Many are forced to be mothers at 12 or 13 because they have lost their parents in the war.

"It's much safer for children to sleep on the side of the street," Okello said, "because it is safer than staying in their homes, where they would be abducted."

Okello said boys are forced into the military and brainwashed. Girls are given away as sex slaves. Many become infected with diseases such as HIV/AIDS and have children.

"Many [of the girls] don't love those children," she said, "because of the circumstances they were brought in."

Okello said many women are forced into prostitution to feed their families.

"She [a woman] will struggle," she said, "but because she has children, she will stand strong."

According to Okello, many women are raped in front of their children and husbands. Sometimes they are forced to have sex with their own children. Okello said many women have committed suicide because they could not live with themselves after this.

"They would rather die than live knowing they sleep with their son," she

Men of the rebel tribe cut off their lips, nose or hands "to show them [the government] that the rebels exist." Okello said many pregnant women have their stomachs cut open.

"They remove the babies and hit their heads against a tree trunk," she said.

For the abducted children, escape can mean punishment and death.

Stress and trauma have plagued the women in Uganda. Okello said 40 percent of women have post-traumatic stress disorder and that the trauma has led to mental illness. She said survivors are often feared because of their disfigurements.

"You can't walk out with our head high," she said.

Okello said there is hope. "Women will always fight for peace."

Islamic government represses women

By a coincidence, Mina Ahadi was born into a Muslim family and was a Muslim.

When she was 9, her traditional garb meant that you could only see her eyes. Ahadi asked her mother why she had to wear the scarf. 'Because we are Muslim,' she replied.

At 14, Ahadi began to read the Quran and said through a translator she realized that "if I did not wear the scarf, I would end up in hell and not paradise."

Her perceptions changed when her grandfather criticized Islam and spoke to God himself. Ahadi then began to criticize the religion herself. At 16, she began to read books by authors such as Marx. "I stopped praying," she

This was not a problem, according to Ahadi, because there was no Islamic government.

When she grew up, Ahadi said she threw her scarf away and put on a miniskirt. She went to a university and studied medicine. She had been at the university for four years when the revolution began.

Ahadi actively participated, saying she "hoped they'd be able to shape a better life for people." It was until later that she heard it was an Islamic organization that was leading the movement.

Two months after the revolution ended, the government announced that women had to wear the traditional scarf. Ahadi said she looked in the mirror as asked "should I wear the scarf or not?" To Ahadi, the scarf was like a prison. She said no.

Ahadi knew this decision would have consequences, and she said she was thrown out of the university for it. She said she was visited first by men with beards, and then by men with knives.

Ahadi worked in a factory to support herself and protested the government's rules. These rules included a law that prohibited women to divorce. Men, however, could divorce their wives.

The government also made it legal for a woman to be stoned. Ahadi described one stoning she saw when she was 20, calling the practice "a barbaric act against women." The act of stoning involved burying a woman in sand up to her head. Stones are then thrown at the woman's head until she is dead. Ahadi said women and men continued to be stoned to death today.

In everyday life, "everything was divided," Ahadi said. She gave an example of this by describing how women were forced to sit in the back of the bus while men sat in the front.

Police arrested Ahadi's husband and five other guests at their apartment. She said she had to flee to Tehran because the government was searching for her. She later found out that her husband had been executed. Ahadi later received her husband's bloody clothing.

The government began to publish a list of those executed in 1980. Ahadi said the government would sometimes execute children and pregnant women. Sometimes, she said, they would execute 50 people in one day.

Ahadi then fled to Kurdistan, where she lived for 10 years and fought against the Islamic regime there.

Ahadi said she "believes there is no Islamic country-there are countries with Islamic governments. Within these countries, Ahadi said women are threatened daily. "Political Islam is an anti-women movement." Ahadi also said that "terrorism is part of the movement."

Although Ahadi discussed her story, she said "not everything is dark." Ahadi has meet many women who are secular and fighting for human rights.

Today she is the founder and head of the International Committee against Execution and Stoning.

"Hope is people just like you," she said, referring to those involved in human rights activites, "We need to join together."

Studying at SMU was a hard struggle won...

According to Doaa Mansour, women in Palestine face two types of violence: social and political.

She should know, as she has lived most of her life in Nablus, Palestine, a city located in the West Bank.

Mansour said that Palestine, as part of the Arabic world, has the same social characteristics as many other Islamic countries. They are a traditional and patriarchal society, she said, and exhibit three types of violence against women.

Domestic violence in Palestine is physical, psychological and sexual, Mansour explained. It is men against women, mainly husbands against wives. Mansour noted that often violence was used for "silly, stupid reasons."

She cited a 2005 survey of married women in which 61.7 percent were found to have suffered psychological abuse, 23.3 percent were found to have suffered physical abuse and 10.5 percent suffered sexual abuse.

Honor killings are also practiced in Palestine. Mansour said many of the honor killings were done so by husbands to wives based on rumors of sexual activity outside of marriage. She noted that the killings are "carried out by both Muslims and Christians alike."

The third type of violence involved families. Mansour said women have family concerns and that men often use violence as a means of control. She explained that many women experienced violence if they spoke to their husbands the wrong way or failed to raise the children as their husbands wished. She also explained that a man can veto any decision a woman makes.

Political violence in Palestine began in 1948, when Israel was given lands that were traditionally Palestine, Mansour said. The Palestinians had two uprisings-one called the Stone Uprising, and another in 2000 in which 2,000 men and women were killed.

Mansour said "women have suffered the impact of occupation."

Mansour said she has lost some of her family and friends because of this.

In particular, Mansour emphasized the appearance of Israeli checkpoints
throughout the area which "enforced a policy of movement restraint as well
as economic and social restraint."

"There are so many narratives that have been heard about checkpoints, " she said, recalling stories of weddings ruined, women in labor stalled going to the hospital, and even one women having a baby at a checkpoint and naming him 'Checkpoint. '

Mansour's own story involved a checkpoint.

She wanted to study in America. So in January 2008, Mansour began to work on getting her visa and paperwork completed. The only problem was the closest U.S. embassy was in Jeruselum, and as a Palestinian, Mansour said it was impossible to travel to the embassy without permission.

So Mansour applied for permission, but was declined for reasons unknown. She then decided to sneak into Jeruselum.

Mansour said Israel was contructing a separation wall between the two countries, but in some places the wall has not been built. Instead, it is fenced. Her plan was to cross at one of these points.

While crossing, Mansour said she was surprised by an Israeli military jeep. The men shouted at her and shot a gun into the air, according to Mansour.

She explained to them that her goal was to get to the U.S. embassy and not one of violence, but Mansour said the men arrested her anyways, even after she offered to give up her ID to them and then retrieve it after she was done at the embassy.

Mansour was taken to a military base, where she was interrogated for hours. She was then left alone for a long period of time, at the end of which she was told that she was not allowed to enter Israel.

Undeterred, Mansour said she decided to try to sneak across a second time.
It was a success, she said, and "Thank God."

When she arrived at the embassy, she was lectured on the importance of being punctual. But Mansour obtained her visa. Today she is a graduate student in anthropology at SMU.

While she lives thousands of miles away from her home country, Mansour said she "still lives in Palestinian fear everyday."

But she said, her biggest fear is losing that fear and the connection to her people it symbolizes.

It happens in the United States too

Theresa Flores lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood. Her father had a very important job that meant Flores moved around a lot.

When she was 15, her family moved to Detroit. Flores said she was "amazed" at how different it was from the countryside, from where she had moved.

She started a new school, and developed a crush on a boy. However, Flores said the boy was of a different race and that others told her at the school that they could not be together because that was the way it was.

Flores said she didn't understand why it was like this in the United States.

When the boy offered to give her a ride home, Flores said yes.

But a red flag went up in her mind when the boy drove in the opposite direction of her house. Another flag appeared when the boy said he needed to go get something from his house. Another red flag went up when he asked if she'd like to come inside.

Flores said she ignored all the red flags and went inside, where she found out that all those flags had been correct. The boy she had a crush on date raped her.

Flores said it was humiliating for her, a virgin Catholic girl. What she didn't know was that a group of men had been photographing her.

The men turned out to be involved in a large underground ring of human traffickers. Flores said they forced her into slavery by threatening to show the photos to everyone she knew, including her parents and her priest.

"I was to earn back those photos," she said.

Flores said she was too afraid and embarrassed to tell anyone, so for two years the men followed her. She said there was no way of escaping from them and that they were "planted everywhere."

Her life was threatened daily. Dead animals were found in her mailbox. Once, the men killed her dog.

At night, Flores said she would get phone calls and would have to sneak outside to a waiting car immediately, often in pajamas without shoes. She would then be forced into having sex with many men.

She would travel to strange places and Flores said every time she saw the car, she didn't know if she would get back home.

Flores said one night she "was sold to the highest bidder," and was beaten and drugged until she was unconscious. Waking up in a strange place, she was escorted home by the police.

Her parents, she said, assumed she had been out all night and were embarrassed that their daughter was being escorted home. They didn't know she wasn't wearing shoes.

"I was vulnerable," she said, "I was afraid to tell anyone."

Flores eventually escaped, and now is a licensed social worker and author of The Sacred Bath, a book about her experiences. She said she was lucky.

"We think we don't have any problems," she said. "Slavery didn't end 150 years ago. Human trafficking is America's dirty little secret.' It is a $9.5 billion business and the second largest business in the world."

Flores said it was also the fastest growing industry in the world.

"We have allowed this in turning away," she said. "We used to be a society of nosey neighbors, but we've built up fences. We need to open our eyes o this. It will require all of us to stop trafficking. Slavery is not God's will."

(source: Southern Methodist University "Daily Campus")