Thursday, April 30, 2009

ACTION Impeach Judge Jay Bybee

Quick quiz: You're a powerful government lawyer who gives the legal go-ahead for a secret U.S. torture program.

Do you:
a) Lose your license to practice law
b) Go to jail
c) Win a lifetime appointment to one of the highest courts in the land

In the case of Jay Bybee, the answer is "c." Bybee, the lawyer responsible for many of the worst Bush-era torture memos, is currently serving on the prestigious 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, thanks to his old boss, George W. Bush.

That's just not right.

Jay Bybee showed no respect for our laws and isn't fit to be a federal judge. Can you sign our petition to Congress calling for the impeachment of Jay Bybee?


The petition says: "Jay Bybee, the man behind the torture memos, is unfit to be a federal judge. Congress should impeach him.

President Obama said last night that torture "corrodes the character of a country." He's right. Jay Bybee, who violated the law by coming up with a "legal" rationale for waterboarding and other acts of torture, isn't qualified to hold a position charged with upholding our Constitution.

The outcry for his impeachment is growing; leading progressive in Congress are demanding answers,1 and 20,000 Americans have called for Bybee's impeachment.2
As The New York Times said: "Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him."3

The calls to impeach Bybee are getting noticed—but Congress hasn't acted yet, and might not, unless we ramp up the call for accountability. There's a real chance Bybee will be held accountable, but only if we show Congress that if they lead, we'll support them.

Can you sign the petition today?


Thanks for all that you do.

–Nita, Kat, Peter, Ilyse, Justin and the rest of the team


1. "Pressure grows to impeach Bybee over 'torture memos,'" The Times of London, April 29, 2009

2. "Podesta Calls For Bybee Impeachment On CNN, Delivers Your Petitions To Congress," Think Progress, April 26, 2009

3. "The Torturers' Manifesto," The New York Times, April 18, 2009

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Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Ground the Drones...Lest We Reap the Whirlwind

Kathy Kelly, the Co-Author of "A Closer Look" will hold a discussion:
"The Clarification of Thought" SUNDAY, MAY 1 2009 - 7:00 pm - 9:00pm in Washington, DC. at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House - 503 Rock Creek Church Rd For a map and more see: here

BIO for Kathy Kelly: CLICK here

Let your peace-loving contacts in DC know right away!
A Closer Look

By Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell

April 2, 2009

It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.

This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes. We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, - if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.

The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the U.S. Air Force refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.

Creech Air Force Base is headquarters for coordinating the latest high tech weapons that use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for surveillance and increasingly lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (UAVs), take off from runways in the country of origin, controlled by a pilot, nearby, “on the ground.” But once many of the UAVs are airborne, teams inside trailers at Creech Air Force base and other U. S. sites begin to control them.

We’ve become more skilled in spotting and hearing the vehicles.

But, we want to acknowledge that Creech Air Force base pilots guiding surveillance missions over areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they are ordered to hunt down Taliban fighters, are absorbing and processing information which we wish they could disclose to us. Trainers at the base have arranged for a contractor to hire “extras” to pose as insurgents, walking about the range inside the base, so that pilots training for combat can practice shooting them. This is all done by simulation. Sometimes flares are set up to simulate plumes of smoke representing pretended battle scenes. But when the pilots fly drones over actual land in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they can see faces; they can gain a sense for the terrain and study the infrastructure. A drone’s camera can show them pictures of everyday life in a region most of us never think much about.

We should be thinking about the cares and concerns of people who have been enduring steady attacks, displacement, economic stress, and, amongst the most impoverished, insufficient supplies of food, water and medicine.

The Pentagon stated, today, that the situation in Pakistan is dire. We agree. Pakistanis have faced dire shortages of goods needed to sustain basic human rights. Security issues such as food security, provision of health care, and development of education can’t be addressed by sending more and more troops into a region, or by firing missiles and dropping bombs.

In the past few days, the Taliban have responded to U.S. drone attacks with attacks of their own and with threats of further retaliation which have provoked renewed drone attacks by the U.S. Are we to believe that the predictable spiral of violence is the only way forward?

Antagonisms against the U.S. in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced when we actively respond to the reality revealed to U.S. by the drones’ own surveillance cameras: severe poverty and a crumbling or nonexistent infrastructure. Human interaction, negotiation, diplomacy and dialogue, not surveillance and bombing by robots, will ensure a more peaceful future at home and abroad.

We can’t see what the drones’ “pilots” can see through the camera-eye of the surveillance vehicle. But, we can see a pattern in the way that the U.S. government sells or markets yet another war strategy in an area of the world where the U.S. wants to dominate other people’s precious resources and control or develop transportation routes. We’ve heard before that the U.S. must go to war to protect human rights of people in the war zone and to enhance security of U.S. people. Certainly, the U.S. is nervous because Pakistan possesses a “nuclear asset,” that is to say, nuclear bombs. But so do other states that have been reckless and dangerous in the conduct of their foreign policy, particularly the U.S. and Israel.

At the gates of Creech Air Force Base, our signs read: “Ground the Drones…Lest You Reap the Whirlwind,” and “Ending War: Our Collective Responsibility.” Our statement says: “Proponents of the use of UASs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in ‘real-time’ by ‘pilots’ sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity. With less risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of ‘enemy’ noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous U.S. disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.”

We hope that U.S. people will take a closer look at our belief that peace will come through generous love and through human interaction, negotiation, dialogue and diplomacy, and not through robots armed with missiles.

Kathy Kelly,, co-coordinates. Brian Terrell lives and works at the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, IA.

Find another article on this topic from this group - CLICK here

ARRANGE for a SPEAKER from Voices for Creative Non-Violence - CLICK here

President Obama and Sir Thomas More (with related articles)

Recently released photo President Obama with First Lady Michelle at Governor's Ball

Sir Thomas More

Thomas More: “I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake”
by James M. Wall

In his press conference Wednesday night, President Obama was asked two questions about torture. In his first answer he referred to an article he read recently. His staff did not initially provide the source, but Huffington Post suggests his source could have been a blog posting by Andrew Sullivan.

In his blog, The Daily Dish, Sullivan wrote:

Most ordinary people lived through the Blitz, a random 9/11 a week, from an army poised to invade, and turn England’s democratic heritage into a footnote in a Nazi empire.

As all that was happening, and as intelligence was vital, the British captured over 500 enemy spies operating in Britain and elsewhere. Most went through Camp 020, a Victorian pile crammed with interrogators. As Britain’s very survival hung in the balance, as women and children were being killed on a daily basis and London turned into rubble, Churchill nonetheless knew that embracing torture was the equivalent of surrender to the barbarism he was fighting.

Responding to a second torture question: ”Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?” Obama ignored the “previous administration” reference, evoking instead the Churchillian rationale:

What I’ve said — and I will repeat — is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don’t think that’s just my opinion; that’s the opinion of many who’ve examined the topic. And that’s why I put an end to these practices.

I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, “We don’t torture,” when the entire British — all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.

And then the reason was that Churchill understood, you start taking short-cuts, over time, that corrodes what’s — what’s best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.

And — and so I strongly believed that the steps that we’ve taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term and make us safer over the long term because it will put us in a — in a position where we can still get information.

In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it’s hard, not just when it’s easy.

At the same time, it takes away a critical recruitment tool that Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians.

And it makes us — it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international, coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks.

So this is a decision that I’m very comfortable with. And I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are, even when we’re taking on an unscrupulous enemy.

Later, in the press conference the subject was revisited :

QUESTION; Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” not only protected the nation but saved lives?

And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?

OBAMA: I have read the documents. Now they have not been officially declassified and released. And so I don’t want to go to the details of them. But here’s what I can tell you, that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques, which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques, doesn’t answer the core question.

Which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn’t answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?

So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as commander-in-chief on how safe I’m keeping the American people.

That’s the responsibility I wake up with and it’s the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are.

That is the right answer. Taking shortcuts that “undermine who we are” takes us in the wrong direction.

The President’s stand on principle echoes the experience of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Lord Chancellor of England, whose whose real life story is told in the 1966 film, A Man for All Seasons.

Early in the film, Cardinal Wolsley (played by Orson Welles) summons More (Paul Scofield) to his palace. The Cardinal needs More to help him persuade the Pope to grant King Henry the right to divorce his wife.
The Cardinal argues that the divorce is for the benefit of both king and country. Henry has no male heir; he expects a new wife to provide him with one. More responds: “No, Your Grace, I’m not going to help you.”

An angry Cardinal Wolsey insists that if More could see “facts flat on” without his “horrible moral squint”, he “might have made a statesman,” evoking this calm rebuke from More:

“I think that when statesmen forsake their own private consciences for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to choas.”

In another pivotal moment later in the film, William Roper (Corin Redgrave) visits Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) to ask for permission to marry his daughter Meg (Susannah York).

In this clip from the film, More receives a second visitor, a weak and amoral man, Richard Rich (John Hurt), who first warns Sir Thomas that he is surrounded by spies (of which Rich is surely one), then begs More for a job.
Rejected, Rich leaves. More’s daughter shouts at her father that Rich should be arrested for being a “bad man”. More refuses, and insists Rich should remain free: “Go he should. If he were the devil himself, until he broke the law”.

WILLIAM ROPER: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

SIR THOMAS MORE: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

The debate will continue over how to treat those who were responsible for torture during the Bush presidency. Meanwhile, the Congress could investigate and the Attorney General could prosecute. But the chief executive has made his position clear.

He opposes torture because it is wrong, ineffective, and unworthy of a nation of laws. He intends to carry out his duty to protect the American people by living up to the highest values of this democracy. It is a stand that is both pragmatic and principled.

From Wall Writings wordpress dot com

Be sure to at least skim these related headlines & items as well - there have been so many - yet these are unusually current and/or relevant! :

I just read these top two today & find them exceptional as well as educational - so if you can only read two, read these:

This one puts clearly, briefly why the Spanish are trying to help us out
Bush Torture on Trial by David Cole here

This one is like an entire course if it leads to more research - quite dense yet it's compactness not only pulls a lot together yet leads to future questions on detaining more at home we must be asking now.
Guantánamo at Home by Jeanne Theoharis here

This new one looks quite interesting - although I haven't read it yet:
Obama's pretty words on secrecy and torture last night - Glenn Greenwald:
Will the President's encouraging answers on civil liberties and transparency finally translate into action?

Barack Obama invokes Churchill in repudiation of CIA 'torture'From Times Online
April 30, 2009 here

Lawyer Urges Release of Canadian Gitmo Prisoner - Omar Kadr,Leahy Invites Bybee to Testify on Torture Memos, Spanish Judge all here

Rice Justifies Her Complicity with Torture to Students - See Video:

All of the following are at Bill of Rights Defense Committee - BORDC dot ORG - or for all the URLS easily CLICK: here and scroll down for the news items:

4/30, Jason Leopold, Public Record, Senate Panel's Report Links Detainees' Murders to Bush's Torture Policy

4/30, Sen. Robert Byrd, Huffington Post, Our Obligation to Investigate

4/30, ACLU, Investigation Ordered Into Virginia Fusion Center Document

4/30, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Obama's pretty words on secrecy and torture last night

4/30, Judy Dempsey, New York Times, U.S. Asking E.U. to Take Detainees

4/30, Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, Senators press for Gitmo closing details

4/30, Pauline W. Chen, M.D., New York Sun, The Surgeon and the Torture Memos

4/29, Editorial, New York Times, The State-Secrets Privilege, Tamed

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Valtin's Blog - Another Professional's Human Rights Updates - USA (related to torture concerns)

Look at Valtin's blog often! I expect a great book from him soon on these issues. CLICK HERE

Many of Valtim's blog have little-known to breaking info - and don't miss this one (I did) early in April: HERE

Stephen Soldz spoke about Valtin's Blog when he first began it, March 2007 CLICK HERE March 26th, 2007 Valtin, long-time Daily Kos blogger on psychological torture and other matters has started his own blog — Invictus. One of his first pieces is a reprise of the APA-torture relationship, taking as springboard a recent letter by the APA’s military psychology division opposing a Moratorium on psychologist participation in interrogations of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo and elsewhere.I expect I’ll mention Invictus often.

Soldz own frequent work also needs watching for all Human Rights folk watching the torture exposure flooding in...Here's a sample:

The Mormon - LDS - Connection

Rice Defends the Torture Policy

Also, find another item about the American Activist Psychologists here on One Heart for Peace... CLICK: HERE

Obama's Grade at 100? What About Our Grade?

This was sent from the ACLU director by email yesterday (Tuesday) - to make it more current (Tonite, Wed, EST) I've put the present tense into parenthesis...

You and I can’t let the issue of torture and accountability fade from view.

...President Obama (held) a news conference on the 100th day of his presidency. He (was) asked roughly 25 questions. We (made sure more than) one of them (was) about torture.

Here’s how (we helped and we can keep helping): (We) urge(d) White House correspondents for the major TV networks (and now let's urge the stations directors) to (keep) ask(ing) the president (and the nation these questions and related):

The so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” exposed in the torture memos include keeping detainees awake for up to 11 straight days, dousing them with cold water and placing them naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. One prisoner -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- was waterboarded 183 times in a month.

Do you believe that a country - or a president - can afford to look at shocking evidence of illegal torture and simply look away?

(and others)

Act now...

As you know, the ACLU forced the release of the Bush torture memos and sparked a nationwide debate about torture and accountability. And we’re keeping the pressure on:

* (Tuesday), a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the ACLU in an important case against Jeppesen Data Plan -- a subsidiary of Boeing. Jeppesen was responsible for organizing extraordinary rendition flights used repeatedly by the CIA to move detainees to countries where they could be tortured.
* In response to a long-standing ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Department of Defense has agreed to release a substantial number of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel by May 28.
* In another crucial ACLU case, a federal judge has rejected the CIA’s attempt to withhold records related to the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes that depicted the harsh interrogation of CIA prisoners.

These events are critical to helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse. They are also crucial to holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse.

Thanks for standing with us.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

oneheartforpeace blogger's qualifier...for the Title article just below this one...

Since my focus is often on human rights - and particularly more & more concerned these days with the possibility of restoring our US Rule of Law - not just in plans, sentiments but in CITIZEN outcry along with that of many rights lawyers, activists, constituency plus legislators work, etc., I miss plenty. What with the push for the Special Prosecutor, there feels like no time at all to waste. Also, I am horrified, to be honest, at the continual call toward more war as indicated by the $ Congress has agreed to put into the same, etc., etc. - regardless of how much has already happened under that last administration.

I see as absolutely KEY to survival and to restoring our US morality - let alone leaving any kind of a decent legacy for our children: the strong WORLDWIDE/ movement toward nonviolence and alternatives to warfare.

So, I must admit I post mostly items that have that same flavor if not thrust.

However, there is a lot I miss in that "hunt" here's one which is a balance in this regard...Let the readers of this blog know how you respond or might add to this one, please by placing your COMMENTS below this post.


Obama's Grade at 100? What About Our Grade?
By Robert Borosage published April 29th, 2009

Grading a president after 100 days always strikes me as presumptuous. The only real grade is an incomplete. And as good teachers will tell you, letter grades—as opposed to written evaluations—are inherently arbitrary and misleading.One thing is clear. If we're grading on a curve, Barack Obama ranks near the top, just below FDR. In changing course, getting bold things done, setting a tone, lifting our spirits and confidence, we haven't seen anything like this since Roosevelt. Even Reagan, the great communicator, had a much harder time in his early days, starting with the limousine gridlock of his inaugural. He had to get shot to move his agenda.Rather than just grading the president, I suggest we might profitably assess our own 100 days. Obama has stormed the national and world stages in his first weeks. But how have we done—particularly the progressives who have such a large stake in the success of this president—in relation to Obama? He has demonstrated remarkable mastery of the powers of the presidency to lead the country. Have we mastered the power of the citizenry to empower the president?

Please read the rest of this article and Comment below... CLICK HERE

Spanish Judge Opens Probe into Guantanamo Torture

Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 by Agence France Presse

MADRID - A Spanish judge on Wednesday opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp, following accusations by four former prisoners.

Judge Baltasar Garzon will probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison at the US naval base in southern Cuba, he said in his ruling, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

The judge based his decision on statements by Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, known as the "Spanish Taliban" and three other former Guantanamo detainees -- a Moroccan, a Palestinian and a Libyan.

Garzon said that documents declassified by the US administration and carried by US media "have revealed what was previously a suspicion: the existence of an authorised and systematic programme of torture and mistreatment of persons deprived of their freedom" that flouts international conventions.

This points to "the possible existence of concerted actions by the US administration for the execution of a multitude of crimes of torture against persons deprived of their freedom in Guantanamo and other prisons including that of Bagram" in Afghanistan.

The four former Guantanamo detainees alleged they were held in cramped cells and suffered beatings and other physical and mental mistreatment.

The Palestinian, Jamiel Abdelatif al Banna, said he suffered "blows to the head that caused him to lose consciousness, was detained in an underground place without light for three weeks and deprived of food and sleep."

The decision by Garzon, known around the world for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998, was unrelated to another investigation by the judge into six officials of the former US administration of George W. Bush over alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Prosecutors this month issued an official request to the judge to drop that probe, arguing that the complaint targets officials who did not have the power to make decisions but who simply "drafted non-binding judicial reports."

Spain since 2005 has assumed the principle of universal jurisdiction in alleged cases of crimes against humanity, genocide, and terrorism. But it can only proceed when any such cases of the alleged crimes are not already subject to a legal procedure in the country involved.

Several human rights groups have asked judges in different countries to indict Bush administration officials over the camp, which US President Barack Obama has vowed to close by January 2010.

More than 800 detainees have been held at the US military prison since 2002.

Some 240 people are still there. About 60 of them have been deemed eligible for release, but the Obama administration is struggling to arrange their transfer to a third country.

The Bush administration had charged about 20 of the detainees on terror-related charges, including two prisoners arrested when they were still teenagers.

Also find this at Common Dreams dot org with Comments

Comment from oneheartforpeace blogger: I would never wish the Death Penalty on any of these torturers - however I agree that in this case and especially because it's the US - they need to be prosecuted. I would speak out against the death penalty - no matter who for - just as I am saddened about this death penalty of the White Supremacist as well - however we deplore his terrible life and reason for prison:

Torture of any kind - as well as murder - are not ours to mete out and do harm the doer. And torture harms the doer's culture as well in infinite ways.

Yes, the death penalty is torture too - look at its history, reflect on how it has been used throughout the years and all the ways it can be botched and affect children and others who observe such an event. My child, barely 7 or so had no trouble seeing and saying, "...but mom, how can anyone kill another to try to prove that murder is not right?" For various reasons - besides these few I mention - that the death penalty is an archaic act without any value in a civilized land, see another blog I help do: The Journey of Hope Blog CLICK here


APA - Professional American Psychologists Complicity with Torture - A Brief History:
CLICK here

Polish Pianist Will Not Play in US in Protest:
Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman announced Sunday that he will not perform again in the US in protest Music from the torture memos — waterboarding here

Wake up, America! See how the rest of the world perceives us, even still UNTIL we bring fully about the Rule of Law once more to these lands! (blogger's note)

LETTER from the House at Last! : HERE

See those who've signed on HERE ACTION - Time is right to CALL/FAX your legislators to thank them or to ASK why not? Have talking points ready to offer - politeness does help!

Also see the following commentary: HERE

See the Letter Rep. Wexler wrote: HERE

WOULD YOU help get out the word and call your legislators/leaders?

ACTIONS on CLIMATE Change & Related

CLIMATE CHANGE & related -Goal: landing an effective global warming bill on
President Obama's desk in 2009 -- is within reach.

Landmark climate legislation is pending in the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment.

What happens there will determine the future of climate action this year.

Right now, members of the house are intensifying negotiations on the sweeping energy and global warming bill. Because this Subcommittee bill will set the tone for the entire debate that follows in both Houses of Congress, the outcome of these
negotiations is key to our success.

Here's an inside look into what's happening right now:

-- Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said they would wait until next week before beginning the Subcommittee markup on their proposed legislation.

-- As we speak, House leaders are hammering out detailed legislative language that will cut America's global warming pollution.

-- Our legislative team is working with House leaders to get the strongest possible bill that caps and reduces global warming pollution by about 2% per year and 80% by 2050.

-- We have been running a series of targeted ads and doing street canvassing in Subcommittee districts to build support for the bill.

-- We've just launched two new states (Utah and South Carolina) in our interactive jobs website - CLICK here . This site features state maps that show legislators
exactly where capping carbon will help create new jobs and jumpstart our economy.

We have our work cut out for us. More than 2,000 top corporate lobbyists are on Capitol Hill working to stop global warming action. And news reports state that these lobbyists have increased their already mind-blowing expenditures by 30%.

This is a huge fight, but with your continued support and activism we're doing everything we can to move a strong bill.

Here are three things you can do right now to help us seize this historic opportunity:

1) Call your House member to voice your support for a strong bill: Dial the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with office of Rep. Heath
Shuler. Tell the staff that you support the America's Clean Energy and Security Act now pending in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

2) Ask 5 friends to take action: Just email this link to your friends and family letting them know that now is a critical time for action on this important issue.

3) Make a donation: Your financial support comes at an important time. Our ability to pass legislation this
year depends on what happens in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for your continued support. We'll keep you posted in the days and weeks ahead.

Sincerely, Sam Parry
Director, Online Membership and Activism

Internet Items of Concern for US (with relevance beyond)

Grading the Internet President

No one was more outspoken on the trail about Internet issues than presidential candidate Barack Obama. Has President Obama lived up to his Internet and media campaign promises in his first 100 Days in office? The president gets an "A" for his intent, but an "incomplete" on his follow-though. It will be the final grade that matters.

Timothy Karr, Huffington Post


Ever-present or future concerns? Cyber Warfare?

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Call for an Investigation

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity urges President Obama to back a blue-ribbon investigation into the Bush administration's torture policies to ascertain the full truth. For the full story/MEMO - CLICK here

SEE those who have signed on & others who decry torture:
(signatories are listed alphabetically with former intelligence affiliations)

Gene Betit, US Army, DIA, Arlington, VA
Ray Close, National Clandestine Service (CIA), Princeton, NJ
Phil Giraldi, National Clandestine Service (CIA), Purcellville, VA
Larry Johnson, CIA & Department of State, Bethesda, MD
Pat Lang, US Army (Special Forces), DIA, Alexandria, VA
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council, Linden, VA
Tom Maertens, Department of State, Mankato, MN
Ray McGovern, US Army, CIA, Arlington, VA
Sam Provance, US Army (Abu Ghraib), Greenville, SC
Coleen Rowley, FBI, Apple Valley, MN
Greg Theilmann, Department of State & Senate Intel. Committee staff, Arlington, VA
Ann Wright, US Army, Department of State, Honolulu, HI


We list below other experienced intelligence personnel, who have spoken out publicly about the inefficacy and counter-productiveness of torture:

FBI: Ali Soufan, Dan Coleman, Jack Cloonan

CIA: John Helgerson (former Inspector General), Bob Baer, Haviland Smith

Military: Navy General Counsel Alberto J. Mora; Major General Antonio Taguba (who probed Abu Ghraib and concluded that Bush officials committed war crimes: here; Air Force Col Steven M. Kleinman; Rear Admiral (ret) and former Judge Advocate General for the Navy John Hutson; former Naval Intelligence officer and Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan Administration Lawrence Korb; former U.S. military interrogator (pseudonym) Matthew Alexander; and former military intelligence officer Malcolm Nance
While there at consortiumnews dot com, also see:

House Judiciary Committee Democrats urge Attorney General Eric Holder to name a special counsel to investigate whether the Bush administration broke anti-torture laws, Jason Leopold reports - more on the "first 100 days" and an item on Sen. Arlen Specter's recent decision.

Memo to President Obama on Torture

Here's just the beginning :
From Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
April 29, 2009


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Torture

This memorandum is VIPS’ first attempt to inform you on a major intelligence issue, as we did your predecessor; thus, some background might be helpful.

Five former CIA officers established Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in January 2003, when we saw our profession being corrupted to justify an attack on Iraq. Since then, our numbers have grown to 70 intelligence professionals, mostly retired, who have served in virtually all U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies.

In our first Memorandum for the President (George W. Bush), dated February 5, 2002, we provided a same-day commentary on Colin Powell’s U.N. speech. We warned the president that “an invasion of Iraq would ensure overflowing recruitment centers for terrorists into the indefinite future [and that] far from eliminating the [terrorist] threat, it would enhance it exponentially.”

We strongly urged the former president to widen the discussion on Iraq “beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

VIPS’ second pre-war Memorandum for the President was titled, “Forgery, Hyperbole, Half-Truth: A Problem” — a reference to the bogus intelligence we saw being ginned up to “justify” war.

President Bush ignored our warning and those of other informed individuals and groups. The corporate media uncritically echoed the Bush administration’s misuse and misrepresentation of the intelligence, despite the questions raised — including those raised by our unique movement. (It was the first time an alumni group of intelligence officials had formed expressly to chronicle and to halt the corruption of intelligence.)

The cheerleading for war had begun — a war that would fit the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal’s description of a “war of aggression.” Nuremberg defined such a war as “the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Torture: An Accumulated Evil

Torture is one of those accumulated evils. Violating domestic laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 is another. You were right to unceremoniously jettison former CIA director Michael Hayden, who betrayed the thousands of NSA professionals who, until he directed that domestic law could be ignored, had adhered scrupulously to the 1978 FISA law as NSA’s “First Commandment” — Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on Americans Without a Court Warrant.

In contrast, we believe you were badly misguided in giving a prominent White House post to former CIA director George Tenet’s protégé John Brennan, who has publicly defended “extraordinary rendition” in full knowledge that its purpose was torture. Brennan also had complicit knowledge of the lengths to which Tenet conspired with the Department of Justice to distort history and the law in drafting opinions that attempted to “justify” torture.

With all due respect, Mr. President, it would be another mistake for you to believe what you are hearing from the likes of Brennan and Hayden and the journalists they have fed and domesticated. Please do not be deceived into thinking that most intelligence officials, past and present, condone torture — still less that they are angry that you have put a stop to such techniques.

We are referring, of course, to what President Bush called “an alternative set of procedures” involving cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that violates domestic and international law. We focus on torture in the VIPS statement that follows these introductory remarks....

For the full story/MEMO/links - CLICK here

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PRINCIPLES Instead of Benefits AS GOALS: Commentary from Pakistani Scholar

Notable Excerpt from the article below:

"Once we identify principles rather than benefits as our goals, and once we mark wrong values as our enemies instead of people or groups, then we have a much stronger basis for joint efforts which can bear fruit locally as well as globally."

Blogger's question: What Might the US Do NOW?


Regarding what the US can do or comment (or think), I can only offer the long-term perspective of an armchair philosopher, but here is what comes to me as my humble opinion:

GTMO: In the long run, the worst effect of GTMO tortures is going to be felt in America itself as it may corrode the respect for law and no society can grow once it loses respect for law. Point to think about: today, children in Pakistan are learning about the triumph of our "Long March" for the restoration of judiciary (ask me for a lead if you don't know about this). Thirty years from now, the generation in the driving seat in Pakistan will be one whose "sense of life" is made up of such sentiments. They will make their own mistakes but you can see what their default frame of reference will be? Unfortunately, compared to this, the average child in the US today is being brought up on defending GTMO and extrajudicial tactics and (God forbid) Ayn Rand!

Conclusion #1 : The effects of GTMO can corrode the American society from within, and perhaps it will be a very good thing to see if there has been any change in the local crime scene inside America itself since the beginning of the War Against Terror. If there has been, maybe (this) can tell something about how collective psyche is being shaped...?

GAZA/ISRAEL: America was the first voice against European colonialism (if I am correct) in 1776. Unfortunately, the problem with Israel is that arguably it is the only modern state which is based on the principle of foreign occupation and which cites a colonial certificate, i.e. the Balfour Declaration, as its justification to exist. That is the root of the problem for the Middle East, and it is unfortunately being misrepresented because some of the parties representing the "oppressed" are themselves not very clear-headed, and some might be guilty of other things themselves.

Conclusion #2 : Without any external pressure in either direction, and entirely on its own, and with an independent and objective mind, America needs to revise its understanding of Israel not in the light of sentiment but on the basis of some principle - and the principle should be consistent with America's own philosophy.

CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY: Also alarming is the fact that so many universities and academic circles in America are presenting systematic arguments against democracy. Very often, these arguments are presented in academic camouflage. Pakistan is one of the victims - where the intelligentsia has been brainwashed with dogmas that threaten the growth of democracy, and usually post-colonial American dogmas! It has been argued that an Israel lobby has become effectively in charge of the electoral process in America.

Conclusion #3: IF that is the case, then the issue is not whether it is Israel's lobby or some other lobby. The issue is the system of democracy itself: what (might be) the loophole which has allowed this lobby to become more powerful than democracy? As long as that loophole is there, any lobby can make use of it.

POSTSCRIPT: I am not writing this with any bitterness at all. If Pakistan has made mistakes, and I think it has, then it will pay the price but I have not the slightest doubt that it will rise eventually and fulfill its destiny. The reason is that there are other currents working beneath the surface, and the academics don't know them yet!

That is where I think the nations of the world can collaborate, and individuals too. Once we identify principles rather than benefits as our goals, and once we mark wrong values as our enemies instead of people or groups, then we have a much stronger basis for joint efforts which can bear fruit locally as well as globally.

Khurram Ali Shafique
Research Consultant,
Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
Personal Homepage
CLICK here




Demand Accountability for Torture!
Tell Attorney General Holder to Appoint an Independent Prosecutor

The week before last, the Justice Department released four secret memos written by the Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush administration. The memos authorized and documented waterboarding, in addition to other illegal "enhanced interrogation techniques." Among other things, they revealed that individuals suspected of terrorism were waterboarded as many as 183 times in a single month. Watch LinkTV's new video explaining the severity of torture committed under the Bush Administration.

The Department of Justice has withdrawn the memos and says they no longer represent its legal views, but President Obama initially indicated that government officials responsible for torture would not face prosecution. The New York Times reported here that the Obama administration also opposes the establishment of an independent commission, or even an inquiry into torture policies. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated that the Justice Department would not prosecute those who participated in torture if they acted in "good faith," while telling the press that the Obama administration would "follow the evidence wherever it takes us."

These halting steps toward accountability fall far short of restoring the Rule of Law to the United States. Government officials who authorized torture may have violated several constitutional provisions in the Bill of Rights, including the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments; U.S. statutes such as the War Crimes Act and Uniform Code of Military Justice; and international treaties including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.

If government officials were personally involved in authorizing such grave violations, they must face appropriate consequences. The Obama administration wants to look forward instead of focusing on the past. But to move forward, we must first look back, investigate human rights violations, and ensure justice to restore America's credibility at home and abroad. No one is above the law.

Based on the available evidence, Attorney General Holder should now appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate who authorized and carried out the U.S. government's torture policies. If evidence emerges confirming criminal wrongdoing, the individuals responsible for it must face prosecution.

Contact AG Holder today and demand that he appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate-and if evidence warrants, prosecute-war crimes and constitutional violations committed by U.S. government officials responsible for torture.

Call the Office of the Attorney General at (202) 353-1555. Then email the Justice Department.

What else can you do?

* Write a letter to the editor or opinion-editorial for your local paper endorsing the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
* Meet locally with your members of Congress during their next recess, May 25-29.
* Ask the editorial board of your local paper to write an editorial supporting a torture inquiry by an independent prosecutor.

Use our talking points to help you. If you pursue any of these initiatives, please email to let us know.

Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Address: 8 Bridge Street, Suite A, Northampton, MA 01060
Web: here

Telephone: 413-582-0110
Fax: 413-582-0116

Inspiration from RUMI scholar Fatemeh Keshavarz

Found this recently - listened to it/read it on Speaking of Faith dot org

From Rumi scholar Fatemeh Keshavarz. Here is one of Rumi's ghazals, which she translated and recites with the Lian Ensemble, a group that often sets Rumi's words to Persian music.

Ms. Houman Pourmehdi: [Lines of Rumi poetry recited in Persian]

Ms. Keshavarz: [Translating]

When pain arrives side by side with your love
I promise not to flee
When you ask me for my life
I promise not to fight

I'm holding a cup in my hand
but God, if you do not come
till the end of time
I promise not to pour out the wine
nor to drink a sip

Your bright face is my day
Your dark curls bring the night
If you do not let me near you
promise not to go to sleep … nor rise

Your magnificence has made me a wonder
Your charm has taught me the way of love
I am the progeny of Abraham
I'll find my way through fire

Ms. Tippett: What do you hear in that? What do you reflect on in that?

Ms. Keshavarz: It's about steadfastness, about staying centered and keeping your eye on the goal, but at the same time, very much being in love and allowing the ecstasy of love take over. You see, he is very aware of the fact that, as human beings, we are limited. We have our limits. We just are not able to do everything that we desire to do. Our rationality is there; it's very helpful. It does its job in questioning things and showing the way, but that has its limits too. What opens the way beyond that is love. What enables us to feel the pain and still go forth in the face of all of that is experiencing that love. And if you look at our lives, you know, people who produce great works of art, who are creative, who do something that goes beyond day-to-day activities, have that kind of steadfastness, that kind of devotion that lets them go through. What I see in that poem is that I promise to have that, but that comes from you. It's your magnificence, your love that gives me that energy, that power to stay, and I promise to hold onto it.

Ms. Tippett: And "you" is the beloved, is God, is Allah.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, and that's where the ambiguity comes in, of course, because you should be able to relate to it as a human being in love with another human being. That would be your entry into the poem.

Ms. Tippett: It's also probably important to note that Rumi had a great turning point with a friendship, with Shams, a Sufi master. I think it is actually helpful that the love relationship, out of which Rumi drew so many of his analogies, you know, is not a romantic love relationship. And what you're saying to me is that love is the core, but to think about the many forms that love takes in our lives. I mean, there's also the passionate love that we have for our children.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, and so they are a blessing and they all have their own place. And in the end, we don't replace them with the divine. It's like warming up, in a way. It’s like getting you ready for a major exercise, a physical activity. You warm up gradually. You get yourself to a state where you can do it, test your abilities, see your problems and issues, ask your questions, quarrel with yourself, and get ready for it. And I think all these forms of experience of attachment with other human beings are various ways of experiencing that.

GOOD NEWS page for April 28 2009

Council for a Livable World here

BY EMAIL: We’re thrilled to announce that progressive candidate Scott Murphy (D-NY) has been declared the winner in his race for the Congressional seat previously held by now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand!

Keep watching for more on this active site!

In the Guardian: The 5th anniversary of the Abu Ghraib scandal


William J. Haynes II: ACTION: Ongoing - Tell Chevron CEO David O'Reilly to Fire him

Subject: Tell Chevron: Fire the lawyer behind Bush torture.

Dear Friend,

President Obama says it's up to Attorney General Holder whether to prosecute the individuals responsible for the Bush administration's torture policies. One of the top names on Holder's list should be William J. Haynes II.

As General Counsel for the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld, Haynes authored the legal strategy for some of the most heinous torture techniques authorized by Bush - techniques that were, according to the New York Times, "interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War."

Haynes left the Pentagon when Rumsfeld did, but instead of going into exile - or better yet, prison - Haynes instead went to a cushy gig as chief corporate counsel for Chevron.

I just took action to tell Chevron CEO David O'Reilly to fire Haynes - I hope you will, too.


There is STILL a WAR on in IRAQ - Award BY Winner -Dahr Jamail

Iraqi girl dies after her mother is killed by US raid

nazzal/jamail story voted #1 for best uncensored story: here Find more at dahrjamailiraq dot com

And So it Goes… by Dahr Jamail
April 27th, 2009 | T r u t h o u t

Last week found Iraq swimming in blood once again. Attacks last Thursday brought the worst violence Iraq has seen in over a year, with at least 96 Iraqis killed and 157 wounded in two massive suicide bombings. Over 35 bombings have rocked Baghdad this month alone. There appears to be no end in sight for the escalating violence. For an Obama administration that plans to keep at least 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, look no further for a justification in doing so.

On Friday, further slaughter assaulted Iraq, with 93 killed and another 163 wounded as the attacks continued unabated. Saturday was a light day, with “only” 15 Iraqis killed and 22 wounded, while Iraqi security forces reportedly defused 20 bombs and two booby-trapped cars in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, violence most likely related to the growing battle between government forces and the Sahwa, who are stepping up attacks against government and US forces, continues. In the last three days, clashes erupted at a police checkpoint in Fallujah, three men were killed while planting an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khanaqin, three Sahwa fighters were arrested north of Babel while planting an IED, an IED targeting Sahwa members in Udhaim killed three members and wounded three others, gunmen killed a member of the Sahwa in Mussayab, a car bomb was defused in Fallujah and two Sahwa members were wounded in a blast in Iskandariya. And, by the way, at least five US soldiers have been killed in the last five days.

Sunday found another 12 Iraqis killed and five wounded. A US military raid of a home in Kut brought the deaths of a man and his sister-in-law, who just happened to be the wife of a local clan leader; additionally, four Iraqis, one of them, a police officer, were arrested. Protests erupted as angry Iraqis denounced the raid. During a funeral procession in Kut where the cloth-draped coffins of the dead were carried, protesters called the Americans “criminal occupiers” and demanded the release of the seized men. “We condemn this horrific incident,” said Latif al-Tarfa, governor of Wasit province, “It violates the agreements between US forces and the Iraqi government. Innocent people were killed and the city is now very tense. They were poor people. They do not cause any political or security problems.”

US forces denied killing the man and claimed the death of the woman was “accidental.” They also claimed they had full permission from Iraqi authorities. Contradicting this US military propaganda, Maliki viewed the US military raid as a crime that violated a bilateral security pact, and wants US forces to hand those responsible to the courts, an Iraqi official in the office of Maj. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, the Baghdad security spokesman, told reporters. “The general commander (Maliki) is affirming that the killing of two citizens and detaining others in Kut is considered a violation of the security pact. He asks the commander of the multinational forces to release the detainees and hand over those responsible for this crime to the courts.”

Make no mistake about it - there is a war on. The floodgates of hell have once again been opened, largely as the result of US unwillingness to pressure the Maliki government to back off its ongoing attacks against the US-created Sahwa, which have led to the Sahwa walking off their security posts in many areas, which has been a green light for al-Qaeda to resume its operations in Iraq. In addition, many of the Sahwa forces, weary of not being paid promised wages from the government, as well as broken promises by the occupiers of their country, have resumed attacks against US forces. Again, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the short term to indicate these trends will stop.

General Patraeus, as part of his ongoing efforts to take responsibility for the hell he helped create in Iraq, laughably blamed the recent attacks in Baghdad on “Tunisians.”

Conveniently, during her recent visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while perched in the surreal Green Zone which is floating atop a sea of Iraqi blood, had the gall to claim “that Iraq is going in the right direction” and that the recent violence does “not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made” in Iraq. The primary reason for her unannounced visit was to reassure Prime Minister Maliki that if the violence continues to worsen, the Obama administration would back off its so-called withdrawal plan. Let us not forget the context of this visit - in addition to the hellish week Iraq has just experienced, overall violence there has been on the rise for the last two months.

Along with leaving up to 50,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, the plan to remove many of the other troops by August 2010 is slipping into the background as the justifications for remaining in Iraq are now being placed in the foreground. Iraq is Obama’s occupation now, and circumstances there are ripping away the mask of any promised “change.”

** Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail website here

Dahr Jamail's new book, /Beyond the Green Zone/ is NOW AVAILABLE!

"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah's Men/

"Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq." --Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/

Order /Beyond the Green Zone/ today!

Winner of the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Jounalism!

*** Think Dahr's work is vital? We need your help. It's easy! here

Monday, April 27, 2009

ACTION: Ongoing - Commission Accountability for War Crimes

Here's a URL below to look at & perhaps sign along with others on this blog-site below this post.

I don't know how much of a chance we have with the Special Prosecutor completely independent from Congress for the Leaders/Administrators/Architects of the Bush/Cheney War Crimes - however, I have concluded that we may need to go ahead and vote several different ways with different opportunities (as well as sending FAXES, making our calls).

So here's another with a nice advantage - you can send the same petition/online letter to your entire email address list at once...

CLICK and find memos/key articles & documents as well HERE

Please be sure to READ & PASS ON the following experienced, humble, clear and FIRM letter whether or not you have any doubts that Independent Prosecution is needed & that the process much begin NOW!

Why We Must Prosecute by Senior Prosecutor/ International Criminal Tribunal

Why We Must Prosecute: Torture Is a Breach Of International Law

By Mark J. McKeon
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Sept. 11, 2001, when the twin towers were hit, I was sitting in a meeting in The Hague discussing what should be included in an indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes in Bosnia. I was an American attorney serving as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and there was no doubt that Milosevic should be indicted for his responsibility for crimes of the torture and cruel treatment of prisoners. As the head of state at the time those crimes were committed, Milosevic bore ultimate responsibility for what happened under his watch.

While at The Hague, I felt myself standing in a long line of American prosecutors working for a world where international standards restricted what one nation could do to another during war, stretching back to at least Justice Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg trials. Those standards protected our own soldiers and citizens. They were also moral and right. So I didn't understand why, a few months after the attacks in 2001, the Bush administration withdrew its consent to joining the International Criminal Court. Wasn't accountability for war crimes one of the things America stood for? Although staying with the court did mean that the United States would be subject to being charged in that court, how likely was that to happen? Surely we would never do these things. And, in any event, the court could only assume jurisdiction over a person whose own government refused to prosecute him; surely, that would never happen in the United States.

And yet, seven years later, here we are debating whether we should hold senior Bush administration officials accountable for things they have done in the "war on terror."

In 2001 and the following few years, we at the international tribunal built a strong court case against Milosevic. We put on evidence that he had effective control over soldiers and paramilitaries who tortured prisoners, and worse. We brought into court reports of atrocities that had been delivered to Milosevic by international organizations to show his knowledge of what was happening under his command. And we watched as other heads of state were indicted for similar crimes, including Charles Taylor in Liberia, Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Sudan and, of course, Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

At the same time, I watched with horror the changes that were happening back home. The events are now well known: Abu Ghraib; Guantanamo; secret "renditions" of prisoners to countries where interrogators were not afraid to get rough; secret CIA prisons where there appeared to be no rules. I tried to answer, as best I could, the questions from my international colleagues at The Hague about what was happening in and to my country. But as each revelation topped the last, I soon found myself without words.

I hope that the United States has turned the page on those times and is returning to the values that sustained our country for so many years. But we cannot expect to regain our position of leadership in the world community unless we hold ourselves to the same standards that we expect of others. That means punishing the most senior government officials responsible for these crimes. We have demanded this from other countries that have returned from walking on the dark side; we should expect no less from ourselves.

To say that we should hold ourselves to the same standards of justice that we applied to Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein is not to say that the level of our leader's crimes approached theirs. Thankfully, there is no evidence of that. And yet, torture and cruel treatment are as much violations of international humanitarian law as are murder and genocide. They demand a judicial response. We cannot expect the rest of humanity to live in a world that we ourselves are not willing to inhabit.

The writer was a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 2001 to 2004 and a senior prosecutor from 2004 to 2006.

Call To End Torture
Stop Torture & Abuse Of Detainees. Do Your Part & Sign The Petition!

Official ACLU Website
Read the Torture Memos and Call for an Independent Prosecutor. Act Now!

If it was good enough for the Khumer Rouge...

Waterboard displayed at Genocide Museum in Cambodia. Hey, if it's good enough for the Khmer Rouge...

As politicians argue, and our pragmatist-in-chief tries to find an angle, we can agree that not all moral dilemmas can be reduced to a cost-benefit analysis of pleasure and pain. There are some kinds of pain a morally serious person ought never to inflict. (leading thought at top of this article)

Religion Dispatches dot org

Is Torture Utilitarian?
By Louis A. Ruprecht
Posted on April 27, 2009, Printed on April 27, 2009

Last week was one helluva week in the moral life of this nation; much of importance hangs in the balance. It began on April 16, 2009, with the release of four memos by the Department of Justice. All four (one dated to August 2002, and three to May 2005) were written at the request of John Rizzo, General Counsel to the CIA. They make for strange reading.

The first memo sets the tone for the entire corpus. Abu Zubaydah, the highest ranking al-Qaeda operative in US custody when he was taken on March 27, 2002, was believed to have information he refused to divulge to CIA interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. The CIA requested permission to enter a new, “increased pressure phase” of interrogation. The CIA justified its request by noting a level of “chatter” equivalent to that perceived just prior to the 9/11 attacks, and their conviction that this prisoner had significant information he had not yet revealed.

The memo specifically addressed ten new techniques the CIA wished to apply, from grabbing and slapping the face, to physical stress and confinement, to sleep deprivation, to the odd practice of confinement followed by the introduction of an insect implied to be dangerous, to waterboarding. Yes, waterboarding; we are still arguing about waterboarding, in late April 2009.

And this was where the legalese began. Various memos suggested that if these procedures were conducted at Guantanamo, then they were not technically done in US territory and thus Article 16 of United Nations Convention Against Torture did not apply. They accepted without review the CIA’s claim that waterboarding was a technique still used in the Navy’s advanced training. They accepted without review the claim that “the CIA believes that this program is largely responsible for preventing a subsequent attack within the United States” (May 30, 2005 Memo, page 3). And they noted that the Fifth Amendment prohibition of “cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment” had been recently interpreted by the US Supreme Court to forbid any conduct that “shocks the conscience,” though this was an entirely subjective and context-specific standard, and therefore probably not relevant to the CIA’s stated concerns (in a word: to stay out of trouble).

But far and away the most bizarre attempt to justify this waterboarding technique in the memo-trail came in the first one, dated August 1, 2002. Throughout the analysis, the lawyers had been careful to discuss both the physical and the mental implications of extreme interrogation techniques. With waterboarding, they changed course. “Pain and suffering,” they concluded, “is best understood as a single concept, not as distinct concepts of ‘pain’ as distinguished from ‘suffering’” (August 1, 2002 Memo, page 11). What does this mean? To them it means the following: waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and generates an automatic physical response, does not create physical pain, just reflex action. And if it does not create physical pain, then it does not create mental pain. This logic beggars description.

The expressions of outrage were intense and immediate. Surely someone needed to be prosecuted for this. But who? President Obama was very clear that he wished to look forward, not backward, eager as he is to close the book on this embarrassing chapter in US foreign policy. Persons acting in good faith, believing that they were authorized to do what they did, should not be targeted. Fair enough.

Then came the distinction that worked at the Nuremberg Trials: We cannot prosecute every SS guard, but we can certainly prosecute the authors of the policies… and the authors of these memoranda.

At first the President balked at the suggestion. And with good reason. It is a dangerous precedent, a new administration looking backward in order to prosecute the questionable actions of its predecessors in a previous administration. This looks like the very politicizing of the judicial branch that properly cost Alberto Gonzalez his job.

But then the President seemed to waver on Tuesday, suggesting at a press conference that the authors of the policy could indeed be reviewed by the Department of Justice. The Senate Armed Services Committee seemed inclined to agree. And thus it began to seem as if Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the rest might be in real trouble.

Dick Cheney, never a political wallflower, took to the attack. President Bush has been as silent and as invisible as he has been since Inauguration Day.


What is striking about the quality of this debate is that it is being conducted in strictly Utilitarian terms. And that leads to some very bizarre moral reasoning. Utilitarianism is number-crunching, but of a very peculiar kind; in its crudest forms, it seems to imply that you can measure pleasure and pain, and that by maximizing the pleasure of the greatest number of people, you may be able to justify the infliction of pain on a select few.

We see that strange logic at work in these memoranda.

First, the CIA justified waterboarding with the “ticking time bomb” scenario. Can you justify torture if you know that the prisoner possesses information about a dirty bomb that’s about to be detonated, or a second 9/11-style attack is imminent. The problem with this scenario is that it works well on television (where we now have “MI5” to go along with “24”) and in the movies, but not in real life. All the CIA could ever assure the Department of Justice was that it believed the “chatter” indicated an imminent threat, and that it believed waterboarding had deterred such attacks. The language of faith is telling here; religion is not Utilitarian, however interested in consequences it may be. Certainly “belief” ought not constitute the basis of Department of Defense or CIA policy decisions. This much we should have learned from our reliance on faulty intelligence in the lead-up to our second military invasion of Iraq.

Defenders of the policy insist that waterboarding works, that we got real (the operative word is “actionable”) intelligence we’d not have gotten any other way. Opponents of the policy argue that there is no solid evidence to suggest that this claim is true; how, after all, do we know the intelligence is good and that it would not have been achievable in another way? Others go still further, Senator John McCain chief among them. The revelation of these memoranda and of the use of such techniques is the best recruiting tool we could ever have given to al-Qaeda. Again, does waterboarding have utility or not? Does it create more pain than pleasure? These questions have pretty well defined the contours of the current debate.

Buried near the end (at page 37) of the fourth memorandum, dated May 30, 2005, is the discussion that gives the lie to the idea that this is a debate about Utility. The CIA’s use of water-boarding is nothing like that allegedly used in US military training. For starters, a CIA prisoner may be subjected to two two-hour “sessions” per day. In any given “session,” the detainee may be subjected to as many as six applications of water, lasting up to 40 seconds in duration each time. That is eight full minutes of the experience of drowning in a single day. And the technique may be applied on five separate days within a thirty-day period.

Then comes the final sentence, so bland and understated as to be easily missed. Zubaydah was subjected to the waterboard 83 times in August 2002, and a detainee described as “KSM” was subjected to the waterboard 183 times during March 2003.

Let us pause right there, to permit those statistics to take on a human face. 183 applications of the water-board in one month. If by “application” the CIA means one 40-second experience of simulated drowning, and if this were repeated twelve times in one day (the alleged limit), and if this were repeated five times in the course of a month (again, the alleged limit), then that would add up to 60 such events in a month. Yet the CIA itself admits to having performed this 183 times in a month.

Something does not add up. And it is not simply the numbers.

It is the very logic of waterboarding that unravels here. If, as seems more likely, the CIA subjected “KSM” to the waterboard six times a day for an entire month, then this adds up to the stated 180+ applications. In other words, the CIA water-boarded this inmate more times in a day than his religion requires him to pray. Put another way, we are being asked to believe that the CIA interrogators really “believed” that waterboarding session #151 was the one that was going to turn the trick, succeeding where 150 previous attempts had failed.

Protecting us from the worst in ourselves

If we have learned nothing else from the shocking photographs taken at Abu Graib, then it is this: torture is not about Utilitarian calculation; it is about humiliation. It is forbidden because men and women under the stress of combat cannot be trusted with that kind of power to dominate another soul under their command. Anti-torture regimes are about protecting us from ourselves and from one another, protecting us from what is worst in us that war so often reveals.

War can also reveal the best in us: nobility, heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, generosity under extreme duress. But such realities are blotted where they are not erased by the current revelations of CIA procedure.

Here is where many US citizens, religious and not, Christian and Muslim, across all sectors of the political spectrum, might well find a crucial moment to make common cause. And we might even find it inspiring so to find. What Utilitarianism is unable to articulate is that there are some things you would never do, not ever, because winning the fight would not be worth the degradation. The point is that not all moral dilemmas can be reduced to a cost-benefit analysis of pleasure and pain. There are some kinds of pain a morally serious person ought never to inflict.

Torture—defined as the deliberate degradation and humiliation of a person through the infliction of physical and mental pain–is simply not what we do to other human beings. It is because we understand the human being to be a creature of singular and inexhaustible moral worth—whether due to God, Nature, Providence or Philosophy—that we oppose the infliction of torture on another human being.

The “we” here is not liberal or conservative, not the religious person or the atheist. It is “we the people,” a remarkable spectrum of religious and cultural identities unified by certain constitutional principles that are not in the least Utilitarian, though of the very highest moral consequence to everyone.

Perhaps something like that is what this supremely awful week might yet enable us to see and say.

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. is William M. Suttles Chair of Religious Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. The author of six books, his two most recent are: God Gardened East: A Gardener’s Meditation on the Dynamics of Genesis (Wipf and Stock, 2008) and This Tragic Gospel: How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

© 2009 Religion Dispatches. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: here

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Ecstatic Faith (& Vision) of RUMI

Shining Radio Program! From Speaking of Faith For Program Details & Much More :

GO HERE or if you have trouble try CLICKING here

I decided to repost this heads up so some of you may see this & listen to or download this show. Somehow this kind of program reminds me of one way that those of us who are willing to work WITHIN as well as WITHOUT.

In working through the multitude of UPDATES related to the "torturous" dialogue & of the essence actions related to torture, I ran across the following nugget which Jane Mayer recently shared in LA. Mayer is the honored writer of -The Dark Side" and chronicler of the Bush Administrations use of the lowest the USA has had to offer.

When the planes hit on 911, Mayer was in the gymn. She took notes & reported all day ending in a service where the minister said so perceptively and prophetically that the question before the US citizens would be: "how (do we) defeat this enemy without becoming this enemy"- She still has been taking that message to heart.

I would like to take this question to a deeper level...

Perhaps RUMI is one way we might continue or begin this internally (within ourselves - doing own spiritual work) as well as externally (without in our wounding and wounded nation) - how do we do this transformative work?

We may be surprised how much we might change by so doing? Now and for our children's futures.

by Connie, blogger here at one heart...

ISRAEL: ACTION from Jewish Voices for Peace

Let me cut down to the chase. We have just learned that a number of Israeli peace activists have had their computers confiscated, have been called for interrogations, and have only been released upon signing agreements not to contact their political friends for 30 days. We are asking you to contact the Israeli Attorney General to demand an immediate stop to this harassment.


CONTACT directly for more information:

The activists targeted are members of New Profile, a group of feminist women and men daring to suggest that Israel need not be a militarized society. They are being wrongfully accused of inciting young people--like the shministim--not to enlist in the army. The charge is not true. While New Profile does not tell youngsters not to enlist, they certainly support those who do not: pacifists, those who oppose the occupation, and others. New Profile informs them of their rights and gives them legal support when necessary. But Israel is a country that does not acknowledge the basic human right to conscientious objection.

The government's accusation against New Profile is not new. It has been out there for some time, as a source of harassment. Today's police actions tighten the screws considerably. We've seen how international pressure has helped get many shministim out of jail. Now it's time to put as much pressure so that Israeli peace activists can do their work free of intimidation.

I leave you with a note from New Profile: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."

Jewish Voices for Peace

TORTURE Updates/ACTION & Ongoing DIALOGUE - Includes why the US Army Field Manual is Defective

JUST IN: Firedoglake: New revelation of complicity & possible media cover-up here

Be sure to skim the many COMMENTS at the above URL as some of these also have little-known information and URLS to related items.

This same items was also just posted to Valtin's Blog: here

Def. Dept. to Release Prisoner Abuse Photos by May 28 Also Click to see ACTION STILL ALIVE CALLING FOR A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR - Home Page at ACLU dot org here Please Sign

Jane Mayer - a report from LA not too long ago, just discovered with the burning question for Mayer from 911 on..."how to defeat this enemy without becoming this enemy?" here

U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Refusing Torture Duty

Part II US Soldier Killed Herself After Refusing Torture Duty

IMPORTANT clarification on The ARMY FIELD MANUAL as quite defective - NO - MUCH WORSE.

" long as the Obama administration maintains its support for the Army Field Manual in its current form, then he is breaking international and probably domestic law re torture and use of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. PHR says the AFM continues use of SERE techniques in its Appendix M. I take it a step farther and see its program of inducing fear and phobias, use of isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and allowance for use of drugs (so long as they don’t cause “permanent damage”) as providing the core program of KUBARK [the CIA’s 1963 counter-terrorism interrogation manual].

But whether one sees it as KUBARK or SERE-based is a historical question. More salient is that this is the guideline no doubt used at Bagram today, and against human rights norms. With so much going on right now, it’s easy to forget that current U.S. policy is not abuse-free, and this is not a fight against abuse based in the past. No one knows this better than you, who have so effectively documented the persistence of abuse in what is now Obama’s Guantánamo.

from Valtin's COMMENT on Andy Worthington's site, April 25th, 2009 (see URL to Valtin's blogs below)

Andy Worthington says...My reply:

...I appreciate your comments about the current use of prohibited techniques, and for raising, again, the question of Appendix M of the Army Field Manual. This is a topic that needs looking at in greater detail, and I hope to tackle it soon. What should have happened after Obama issued his Presidential orders on taking office, for example, is that the Geneva Conventions, which had been discarded under his predecessor, should have once more been prominently positioned in every US facility in which interrogations take place, but I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case.

Here, by the way, are two posts by Valtin about Appendix M of the Army Field manual:

Torture Loopholes in Army (also from Center for Constitutional Rights - CCR's website:Close Torture Loopholes in the Army Field Manual - here and from Valtin's blog -

How the US Army Field Manual Codified Torture and Still Does here

Dated April 25th, 2009 & found at Andy Worthington dot co dot uk from COMMENTS under

The above Exchange was VALTIN who also writes for Daily Kos dot com here
Former FBI Authority Rejects Torture
Some inspiration!

Some news from California on beginning of inquiry to hopefully impeach Judge Jay Bybee: here

From digbysblog here As California Goes ... by digby

Congratulations to dday, the Courage Campaign and the LA Democrats, for pushing through the resolution at the California Democratic Convention to begin an inquiry to (potentially) impeach Judge Jay Bybee. This was a truly grassroots effort that came out of simple human outrage that a man who authored those repulsive torture memos could possibly be allowed to pass judgment on others as a judge in one of the highest courts in the land.

The next step will be to make the California Democrats --- and there are a boatload of them -- do what their state party wants them to do. More on that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I couldn't be prouder of my pal and colleague dday who really pushed this thing into the blogosphere and testified at the convention for passage. Just shows to go you that some of us bloggers aren't just cheeto eating blowhards.

(Keep watching California on this one)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

PROF. MARJORIE COHN: President of the National Lawyers Guild Takes Away One Excuse for Torture.

Also see this one: Who authorized the torture of Abu Zubaydah? by Andy Worthington here - BUY his book, read his columns almost daily - find many references to the GTMO prisoners & be sure to read the Comments (which include Andy's for some updates and info you'll find nowhere else.

April 24-26, 2009
What They Craved
Torture Used to Try to Link Saddam with 9/11


When I testified last year before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about Bush interrogation policies, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz) stated that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zabaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks that I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.

Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. That link was never established.

President Obama released the four memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. They describe unimaginably brutal techniques and provide “legal” justification for clearly illegal acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In the face of monumental pressure from the CIA to keep them secret, Obama demonstrated great courage in deciding to make the grotesque memos public. At the same time, however, in an attempt to pacify the intelligence establishment, Obama said, “it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

In startlingly clinical and dispassionate terms, the authors of the newly-released torture memos describe and then rationalize why the devastating techniques the CIA sought to employ on human beings do not violate the Torture Statute (18 U.S.C. sec. 2340).

The memos justify 10 techniques, including banging heads into walls 30 times in a row, prolonged nudity, repeated slapping, dietary manipulation, and dousing with cold water as low as 41 degrees. They allow shackling in a standing position for 180 hours, sleep deprivation for 11 days, confinement of people in small dark boxes with insects for hours, and waterboarding to create the perception they are drowning. Moreover, the memos permit many of these techniques to be used in combination for a 30-day period. They find that none of these techniques constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Waterboarding, admittedly the most serious of the methods, is designed, according to Jay Bybee, to induce the perception of “suffocation and incipient panic, i.e. the perception of drowning.” But although Bybee finds that “the use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death,” he accepts the CIA’s claim that it does “not anticipate that any prolonged mental harm would result from the use of the waterboard.” One of Bradbury’s memos requires that a physician be on duty during waterboarding to perform a tracheotomy in case the victim doesn’t recover after being returned to an upright position.

As psychologist Jeffrey Kaye points out, the CIA and the Justice Department “ignored a wealth of other published information” that indicates dissociative symptoms, changes greater than those in patients undergoing heart surgery, and drops in testosterone to castration levels after acute stress associated with techniques that the memos sanction.

The Torture Statute punishes conduct, or conspiracy to engage in conduct, specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. “Severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from either the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering, or from the threat of imminent death.

Bybee asserts that “if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent.” He makes the novel claim that the presence of personnel with medical training who can stop the interrogation if medically necessary “indicates that it is not your intent to cause severe physical pain.”

Now a federal judge with lifetime appointment, Bybee concludes that waterboarding does not constitute torture under the Torture Statute. However, he writes, “we cannot predict with confidence whether a court would agree with this conclusion.”

Bybee’s memo explains why the 10 techniques could be used on Abu Zubaydah, who was considered to be a top Al Qaeda operative. “Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from [the CIA’s] proposed interrogation methods,” the CIA told Bybee. But Zubaydah was a low-ranking Al Qaeda operative, according to leading FBI counter-terrorism expert Dan Coleman, who advised a top FBI official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.” This was reported by Ron Suskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine.

The CIA’s request to confine Zubaydah in a cramped box with an insect was granted by Bybee, who told the CIA it could place a harmless insect in the box and tell Zubaydah that it will sting him but it won’t kill him. Even though the CIA knew that Zubaydah had an irrational fear of insects, Bybee found there would be no threat of severe physical pain or suffering if it followed this procedure.

Obama’s intent to immunize those who violated our laws banning torture and cruel treatment violates the President’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

U.S. law prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and requires that those who subject people to such treatment be prosecuted. The Convention against Torture compels us to refer all torture cases for prosecution or extradite the suspect to a country that will undertake a criminal investigation.

Obama has made a political calculation to seek amnesty for the CIA torturers. However, good faith reliance on superior orders was rejected as a defense at Nuremberg and in Lt. Calley’s Vietnam-era trial for the My Lai Massacre. The Torture Convention provides unequivocally, “An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification for torture.”

There is evidence that the CIA was using the illegal techniques as early as April 2002, three to four months before the August memo was written. That would eliminate “good faith” reliance on Justice Department advice as a “defense” to prosecution.

The Senate IntelligenceCommittee revealed that Condoleezza Rice approved waterboarding in July 17, 2002 “subject to a determination of legality by the OLC.” She got it two weeks later from Bybee and John Yoo. Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet reassured the CIA in spring 2003 that the abusive methods were legal.

Obama told AP’s Jennifer Loven in the Oval Office: “With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that.” If Holder continues to carry out Obama’s political agenda by resisting investigations and prosecution, Congress can, and should, authorize the appointment of a special independent prosecutor to do what the law requires.

The President must fulfill his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Obama said that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” He is wrong. There is more to gain from upholding the rule of law. It will make future leaders think twice before they authorize the cruel, illegal treatment of other human beings.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild and author of Cowboy Republic. and co-author of the new book, Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her articles are archived at marjoriecohn dot com or click here for this one and other related items.

Also go to counterpunch dot org for items which support and add weight to Prof. Cohn's statements. Find here another dated April 24-26, 2009 by Alexander Cockburn
On Torture and the Bush Years at here Specifically, here

Follow Literary Lawyer Scott Horton Harper's Online (column is called "No Comment" ) find him showing up elsewhere as well...

Here's one more related item, JUST IN 6 ish ET Sat April 25 2009
Inside "take" on torture memos differ here