Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Subsonic Word : A short reflection


Sent Friday, June 26, 2009 from a friend and minister who has made many trips to Israel to support Palestinian Peacemakers and the House of Hope. (I added the trees)

The Subsonic Word

Poet W. F. Merwin wrote “On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.” On Bill Moyers Journal tonight Merwin explained that the tree belongs in the world he envisions as the ideal regardless of the disposition of the earth tomorrow. This reminded me that we all deal in similar ways with those ultimate incentives for life and all that energizes our thoughts and actions. My friend and colleague Elias Jabbour - with The House of Hope - could no more continue to work for the goal of peace and reconciliation on a day when there is no indication that the earth would ever collapse if he could not also pursue that same goal in the face of evidence and news that tomorrow the earth would be no more. It is how we are wired. It is the urgency of a call both from and to that which is beyond us –a call we have come to hear, for which, free to act as we may be, we hold no possibility of refusing.

Tom Cook





Tree of My Life Joseph Stella 1877-1946 painter






Monday, June 29, 2009

UPDATING: We Need Accountability! Our US Leaders and Legislators Own Words

This is both a review and CONSTANTLY UPDATING POST which will be revisted from time to time (so please bookmark in case you need this bill numbers and info later.)

Recently North Carolina leaders - including those from North Carolina Stop Torture Now - joined the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in a day of action and lobbying in Washington, D.C. and visited with several members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation to ask for Congressional action to ensure accountability and restorative justice.

Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor or otherwise support:

H.R. 984 – The State Secret Protection Act of 2009 (co-sponsored by Reps. David Price and Mel Watt);

H.R. 893 - American Anti-Torture Act of 2009;

H.R. 591 – The Interrogation and Detention Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. David Price, (co-sponsored by Reps. Brad Miller and Mel Watt);

S. 417 – State Secrets Protection Act; and

S. 147 – Lawful Interrogation and Detention Act.

Also of note: Rep. Shuler, he has concerns about the CIA's use of torture and extraordinary rendition.

He writes: "Our Constitution and laws apply to all Americans, and to all branches of government. They may not be ignored and are not open to imaginative reinterpretations."

And, also notes: "I am deeply troubled by the CIA's use of highly controversial interrogation techniques. Such treatment does not comply with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions."

June 15, 2009 US Senator Richard Burr - also from North Carolina - wrote a detailed message expressing concerns about the use of interrogation techniques. He wrote:

"Our nation's government works best when its activities adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability. I am troubled whenever any of these principles are questioned, because it is essential that Americans have confidence in those who lead our country...I have cosponsored (a bill) called the Limitations on Interrogation Techniques Act of 2009 (S. 248)This legislation would prohibit the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees held in US custody (and) is currently awaiting further action by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence." Senator Burr's Website: here. Several from NCSTN are looking further into Sen. Burr's work on these issues.

On March 10, state Representatives Paul Luebke, Earl Jones and Pricey Harrison sent U.S. Reps. Brad Miller, David Price, Mel Watt and G.K. Butterfield a letter urging each to follow-up on Attorney General Cooper's and Congressman Watt's request for an FBI investigation of Aero Contractors.

***

NCSTN joins "No More Guantánamos" Effort

At the June 28 meeting, members endorsed a proposal to actively engage and support an effort led by Bill of Rights Defense Committees' founder, Nancy Talanian.

The aim of No More Guantánamos is "to involve the American public in reversing U.S. detainee policies and practices that have denied hundreds of innocent men their freedom and that have made the U.S. and the world less safe."


NCSTN welcomed the President's prompt announcement of plans to close Guantánamo and his promise to end the use of torture by U.S. military and intelligence operatives.

We noted, though, that the President stopped short of any commitment to prohibit the kidnap and disappearances of children and (adults) to third countries for indefinite detention and torture.

The new administration:

1) Has taken no steps to end extraordinary rendition.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe the program has been accelerated and expanded.

2) Has refused to advocate for and enforce detainees' right to due process.

3) Continues to thwart victims' and survivors' access to restorative justice by shielding his and the previous executives' actions behind the veil of state secrets.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert notes that:

"One of the most disappointing aspects of the early months of the Obama administration has been its unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again."
...
"Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention, imprisoning people indefinitely, for years and perhaps for life, without charge and without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence."

Our nation was founded on resistance to just such tyranny, after all.

Yet, this President openly defies federal court orders, echoing tactics used by renegade executives in the Jim Crow South.

As Amnesty International notes:

"President Obama noted in a May 21, 2009 speeach that 'the United States is a nation of laws, and we must abide by ...' (federal court rulings)

Yet, Chadian national Mohammed el Gharani, first taken into custody by the USA when he was 14 years old, was not released from Guantánamo until June 11, 2009, five months after his immediate release was ordered by a federal court. Even then, although the US Department of Justice noted the judicial order, it stated that the release was the result of executive review of the case."

Courtesy of North Carolina Stop Torture Now

UPDATED: Child Detainee: BOB HERBERT NYTIMES on Mohammed Jawad and More - How Long?

NEW Update: Heart-Breaking VIDEO of a child soldier here

Op-Ed Columnist - By BOB HERBERT

The detention center at the American military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Is this any place for a child? Indefinitely?





No one seems to know how old Mohammed Jawad was when he was seized by Afghan forces in Kabul six and a half years ago and turned over to American custody. Some reports say he was 14. Some say 16. The Afghan government believes he was 12.

What is not in dispute is that he was no older than an adolescent, and that since his capture he has been tortured and otherwise put through hell. The evidence against him has been discredited. He has tried to commit suicide. But the U.S. won’t let him go.

The treatment of the young captive was so egregious that the decorated U.S. Army officer assigned to prosecute him — a man gung-ho to secure a conviction against a defendant he believed had committed a serious crime against the American military — ended up removing himself from the case and declaring that he could no longer “in good conscience” participate in the military commissions set up to try accused terrorists.

Jawad was accused of hurling a hand grenade into a vehicle occupied by two American soldiers and their Afghan interpreter in December 2002. All three occupants of the vehicle were seriously injured.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld of the U.S. Army Reserve, a recipient of the Bronze Star, among other commendations, was named the lead prosecutor on the case in 2007. By then, Jawad had already been held for nearly five years. Colonel Vandeveld assumed that the case would be uncomplicated and that a conviction could be easily secured.

Jawad had confessed to the attack and, according to the charges against him, had acted as a member of an insurgent group called Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.

As Colonel Vandeveld began a diligent effort to assemble what he assumed would be the evidence that would convict Jawad, he became increasingly distressed and ultimately dismayed. It turned out, as a military judge would later rule, that Jawad’s Afghan captors had obtained his confession by torturing him. Then the boy was taken by U.S. authorities to Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, where he was held before eventually being transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Colonel Vandeveld — “by sheer happenstance,” as he put it — came across a written summary of an interview of Jawad by a special agent of the Army Criminal Investigation Division. The summary, which was part of the official record of an entirely different case at Bagram, detailed extensive abuse that Jawad said had been inflicted on him at Bagram.

In a sworn affidavit, Colonel Vandeveld said, “This abuse included the slapping of Mr. Jawad across the face while Mr. Jawad’s head was covered with a hood, as well as Mr. Jawad’s having been shoved down a stairwell while both hooded and shackled.”

Jawad’s account had the ring of truth. As Colonel Vandeveld said in the affidavit, the interviewer “later testified as a defense witness ... that Mr. Jawad’s statement was completely consistent with the statements of other prisoners held at Bagram at the time and, more importantly, that dozens of the guards had admitted to abusing the prisoners in exactly the way described by Jawad.”

Jawad also complained about being mistreated at Guantánamo, saying he had been moved with absurd frequency from cell to cell — the idea being to deprive him of sleep. A check of the official prison logs showed that Jawad had in fact been moved 112 times, without explanation, from one cell to another in a two-week period — an average of eight moves a day for 14 days.

As Colonel Vandeveld said in his affidavit: “Upon further investigation, we were able to determine that Mr. Jawad had been subjected to a sleep deprivation program popularly referred to as the ‘frequent flyer’ program.” The colonel said he lacked the words “to express the heartsickness” he felt as he came to fully understand the way Jawad had been treated by American soldiers.

On Dec. 25, 2003, Jawad tried to kill himself by repeatedly banging his head against a wall of his cell.

There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad’s freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible — without merit, of no value.

Colonel Vandeveld is no longer on active duty and has joined the effort by military defense lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union to secure Jawad’s freedom. Six years of virtual solitary confinement, he said, is enough for someone who was not much older than a child when he was taken into custody.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

More on Mohammed Jawad USA Today here and Greenwald at Salon dot com here and of course see what Andy Worthington has to say much earlier up until now here and also look him up at Cage Prisoners dot com here - Global Research here - According to Free Detainees, Jawad was born to Afghan parents in Pakistan and may have been arrested while still in primary school? Be sure to also go to Cage Prisoners and place name of detainee in their search engine for order by priority or date.
==============
And find plenty more on these topics at oneheartforpeace blogsite here near the top...
-------------
From Andy Worthington's site under Comments for celebration of international day in support of torture victims a few days ago...

Salpha (evidently French Canadian?)says...Today at 12H01 I have lighted a candle, as are many of my friends, for the many victims of torture around the world.

Mr. Worthington, thanks to you for your special comment and reminding everybody of that special day.

You are so right. Mr. Obama will own this if he does not change track. Bagram is another chilling reminder that the US is still in the torture business and I would not be surprised that there are still some renditions going on.

Another thought: since the UN has mentioned 9/11 the world has gone down on human rights and torture. Specifically in the case of Mr. Arar there was so much pressure on Canada to give or find any terrorist and deliver them to the US. Maybe that was the case for Mr. Arar. The government of Canada just announced last week they would fight the Supreme Court recommendation that Canada must press the US on Mr. Khadr’s return. This is a disgrace for Canada.

...on June 26th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Andy Worthington says...
...glad you mentioned Canada’s role in the “War on Terror.” Poor Maher was at least the only prisoner I know of who received compensation — although that cannot undo the horrors that were inflicted in him — but the other rendition victims received nothing, there is a horrible system of house arrest for “terror suspects” in place in Canada, and the indifference of the government to the plight of Omar Khadr is truly shocking. He is being made to pay for the perceived sins of his father, and yet he was a child when he was seized.

...on June 27th, 2009 at 12:12 am

Salpha says...

Hello Mr. Worthington,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. The cult of celebrity seems to take precedence over more important or equally important news. In my opinion, PM Harper is a mini-Bush. I hope he will be voted out in the next election. Canada is lost since 9/11; we used to be the champion of Human Rights. I know about the case of Omar Khadr. I followed it and still do. He is well covered, but the population of Canada does not seem to care. I have written several times to the government for his case. I rarely received an answer. I do not think the population of Canada realize how a dangerous man Mr. Harper is, I guess since he does not have a big majority he cannot go on with his agenda too quickly. But if ever he gets a big majority we will be in trouble.

...on June 27th, 2009 at 3:07 am

Andy Worthington says...I also received the following message: Thank you so much for your excellent article “Never forget: The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture”. I thought you might be interested in some news from the Nobel Peace Prize “country” in that relation. Are you familiar with Inge Genefke’s work? The Danish “Florence Nightingale” for torture victims? She’s nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize once again, and this year the experts presume that the committee are leaning towards her due to the current debate on torture. A Nobel Peace Prize to her would be a definite NO to all forms of torture (again).

My interview with her, and two torture victims, has been published here in Norway today. Apart from my ten pages in our main current affairs weekly magazine A-magasinet, and monthly Innsikt, I haven’t found any other articles in Norway in relation to the UN Day. So it was such a relief to find your article. Thank you!

Yours sincerely
Charlotte Berrefjord Bergløff
Journalist
Norway

http://www.bergloff.org ( GO here

...on June 27th, 2009 at 10:39 am

Andy Worthington says...Just to provide some context, Inge Genefke is the founder of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), and I wrote an article about children in Guantanamo for the IRCT’s newsletter last November: (SEE here

The IRCT’s website : here

...on June 27th, 2009 at 10:45 am

Andy Worthington says...And some comments from the Huffington Post: Research wrote:
The American people MUST see those photos...I pray no soldier or American is hurt because of it, but it is more important than that risk...because of relentless media depiction of successful violence, done by our “heroes”, some half of American BELIEVE torture is necessary and works...We must Show the photos to understand how brutal and beneath us, torture is, as a nation, as one world...on June 27th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Andy Worthington says...So many photos that we never see. No skeletal prisoners at Guantanamo, and nothing — ever — out of Bagram or Guantanamo showing the kind of “softening up” of prisoners for interrogation that went on at Abu Ghraib, even though both Bagram and Guantanamo established the template.

I can understand why Obama chose not to release the Afghanistan and Iraq photos, as they would inflame anti-US sentiment and endanger soldiers — and if the President is to believed, this kind of abuse has been curtailed — but photos enable a vast number of people to comprehend, viscerally, what’s actually going on, and without them, Bagram remains a hidden secret, and the enthusiasts for arbitrary and indefinite detention without charge or trial get to maintain the illusion that Guantanamo is a “safe and humane” environment stuffed full of terrorists.

And this from arcticredriver: Thanks for another excellent article Andy. The list of objections to the Guantanamo “evidence” you quoted from Gladys Kessler is pretty comprehensive. But I think it is missing one important further objection. As you and Carlotta Gall pointed out in your investigative report on Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, there are many captives who, even after half a decade in detention, remain victims of mistaken identity. It’s shocking.

Andy says...My reply: Thanks for the reminder. In many ways, I think “mistaken identity” is covered by prisoners telling lies about other prisoners — i.e. being shown the “family album” of photos, and coming up with a story to secure favors or avoid punishment — but I’m delighted that you remember the story that Carlotta and I wrote for the New York Times KABUL, Afghanistan. Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, who said he was falsely accused, died on Dec. 30 reportedly at Guantanamo. See article By CARLOTTA GALL and ANDY WORTHINGTON Published: February 5, 2008 (Abdul Razzaq Hekmati was evidently regarded here as a war hero, famous for his resistance to the Russian occupation in the 1980s and later for a daring prison break he organized for three opponents of the Taliban government in 1999.) here And the follow-up (behind the scenes) here: here

From one of the Commentors: SIGN THE PETITION
To Prosecute Those who Tortured In Our Name at ANGRYVOTERS.ORG
http://ANGRYVOTERS.ORG or GO here

GAZA: Updated July 7/ACTION Update: "All We Want is to Reach Gaza"

SOME, perhaps all of the prisoners of the boat with survival supplies: The Spirit of Humanity and been released. Thank you all who put pressure to bear on their relief by your letters, petitions and prayers!

I also found the following articles this morning, July 7, 2009

Letter From USA In Spirit With Humanity By Eileen Fleming here
Eileen says: The altruistic, courageous, righteously angry, FreeGaza21 inspired me to re-read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" a scalding critique of American Christianity that Reverend Martin Luther King addressed to his "Dear Fellow Clergymen" who had abandoned him. I have taken a few liberties with King's masterpiece by adding and negating some words to address the ongoing turmoil in Israel Palestine in light of the FreeGaza21

Israel Calls On Jewish Fanatics To ‘Save’ Galilee
By Jonathan Cook (who's one of my favorite writers on Palestine/Israel: here
He says: Israel’s housing minister called for strict segregation between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations last week as he unveiled plans to move large numbers of fundamentalist religious Jews to Israel’s north to prevent what he described as an “Arab takeover” of the region

Why Jerusalem? Israel’s Hidden Agenda By Dan Lieberman here Dan says: So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem’s heritage and subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?

Critiquing Netanyahu's Speech By Saree Makdisi here
Makdisi says: What Netanyahu was saying to any Palestinians foolish enough to accept his terms is that if they want to stick a flag in their archipelago of little impoverished islands of territory and call it a state, they can go right ahead
============
Added report on the great need in Gaza (This volunteer humanitarian crew aren't "making it up!")

Palestinians in Gaza barely surviving: International Red Cross Report (end of June)
here

And don't fail to see that Amnesty also has quite a report challenging Israel with human rights amends to make!
=============
Re: The International Action Center's Letter demanding the release of the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, Cynthia McKinney and the 21 Human Rights workers and an end to the siege of Gaza

Friends of Justice,

You can take quick action to sign a drafted letter to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Congressional leaders, the U.N. Secretary General, Security Council and member states, the Israeli President, Prime Minister and Cabinet, the International Red Cross and members of the world media saying RELEASE GAZA AID SHIP SPIRIT OF HUMANITY AND END SIEGE OF GAZA NOW!

Here is the link:
here

The IAC letter is rather long - edited by a friend. (You can easily modify the offered letter which often gets more attention than a copy multiplied - if you have time..)

The International Action Center (IAC), founded by Ramsey Clark in 1992, is committed to the building broad-based grassroots coalitions to oppose to U.S. wars abroad while fighting against racism and economic exploitation of workers here at home. [http://www.iacenter.org/ ]

Peggy (an online peace & justice friend)
=========================================================
To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, and the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel

cc: Major media representatives, International Red Cross

RELEASE THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY AND ALL ITS PASSENGERS IMMEDIATELY AND
ALLOW ITS HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO GAZA TO PROCEED!
END THE SIEGE OF GAZA NOW!

I am outraged at the actions of the Israeli military in attacking and boarding the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, dragging passengers and crew forcibly into Israel. I am further outraged that Israel has confiscated tons of medicine from the ship as well as toys and olive trees.

I demand the release of the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and all of the human rights workers and crew immediately and insist they be allowed to proceed with the mission to take humanitarian aid to Gaza.

I urge the Obama Administration take immediate action to protest the violation of international law and to work to obtain the release of the ship and those abducted. In addition, I urge the Obama Administration to demand the access to Gaza of humanitarian aid and missions like that of the Spirit of Humanity and the upcoming humanitarian aid mission Viva Palestina headed by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. The Viva Palestina mission is scheduled to leave New York City on July 4, bound for Gaza.

Finally, I call on the Obama Administration take action to end immediately the brutal siege, blockade, and occupation of Gaza.

Sincerely,
===================
Find out more on this current event here and in the comments:


"I have just come from Jabalia, and I have no words. I do however have pictures. These came from the Azbet area, and cover a space that would take 15 minutes at a brisk walk. But the devestation stretches as far as the eye can see. The estimate is 6-8000 houses in Gaza damaged, and 5000 completely destroyed."This set of photos was taken by the 'talestotell' blogger, who was in Gaza throughout the Israeli invasion and remains there recording the experiences of palestinians in Gaza: those who survived and those who did not survive the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
See talestotelldotwordpressdotcom

Find More Photos here and here

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"ALL WE WANT IS TO REACH GAZA. WE DO NOT SEEK A CONFRONTATION."
Activists aboard Gaza justice boat demand they be allowed to visit their friends & family in besieged Gaza, and deliver their cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction kits. They invite the world to join them.

(At Sea, 60km off the coast of the Gaza Strip) - Human Rights activists aboard the Free Gaza ship, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, today demanded that the Israeli Navy immediately stop threatening them.

"This aid is desperately needed by the people of Gaza," said Mairead Maguire, winner of the Noble Peace Prize and Pacem in Terris Award for her work in Northern Ireland.

(Be sure to read more about her because this one lady is such an inspiration!)

"President Obama has called upon the Palestinians to abandon violence but Israel is denying them the right to non-violently resist the siege of Gaza."

The unarmed justice ship departed Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7:30am Monday with its crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat, a converted ferry, hopes to arrive in Gaza Tuesday afternoon, following a grueling 30 hour sea voyage.

At 1:30am, Israeli warships surrounded the small civilian boat and threatened to open fire if they did not turn around. When the activists refused to be intimidated, Israeli Occupation Forces began jamming their instrumentation, blocking their GPS, radar, and navigation systems. This jamming was in direct violation of international maritime law, threatening the welfare and safety of the civilian ship.

Responding to this intimidation, Congresswoman McKinney declared, "I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us?"

Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage, said, "All we want is to reach Gaza. We want to visit our friends and deliver our cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction materials. Our ship was searched and received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we departed."

Arraf continued, "We do not seek a confrontation. We have traveled from Cypriot waters to international waters and will enter Gazan waters. We've never gone anywhere near Israel. Israel's closure of Gaza is an act of collective punishment and a blatant violation of international law. We call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Conventions. If they won't or until they do, we will act. We will come to Gaza again and again until this brutal siege is broken. We invite the good people of the world to join us."

Free Gaza boats are the first international ships in 41 years to sail to the Gaza Strip. Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized 8 sea missions, successfully arriving to Gaza on 5 separate occasions. One two earlier occasions, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the DIGNITY boat in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January 2008. The fate of this, the eighth mission to Gaza, is still uncertain.
###

For more information, please contact:
Greta Berlin (English/French) or Caoimhe Butterly (English/Arabic/Spanish) at 00357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org
here

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il
---
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

OR GO here
--
Sent by Darrell and Sue Yeaney
Working for Peace, Justice and the Truth spoken in Love.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

US "War on Terror" Detention: Urgent Concerns

Extraordinary Rendition Map - Wikipedia Photo - Where else does this current US - choreographed archipelago still go? See ACTION below: Ask US government for transparency and to follow-through on promises to quit extraordinary rendition and torture.






Bagram:
A "sally port" holds detainees before their transfer to cage cells -The credit for this photo goes to Andy Worthington - See his site here where I found the FIRST ever published photo of BAGRAM PRISON'S interior.

Three Major Concerns in this post:
1)Ex-Bagram Prisoners Report 2)Detaining Indefinitely 3)ONGOING Extraordinary Renditions

BAGRAM REPORTS:

Bagram: Where The Future of Guantanamo Meets Its Tortuous Past

THIS one just in Monday, June 29th: here Moazzam Begg

Moazzam Begg is Director for the British organisation, Cageprisoners. The opinions expressed are his own.
==========
Bagram Detainees Treated "Worse Than Animals" JUST In - updated here - June 27, 2009
By William Fisher
here

UN Human Rights Chief: Prosecute Bush Admin Officials who OK'd Torture
(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay) June 25-26, 2009

As new allegations surface at Bagram, the UN’s top human rights official is calling for the release or trial of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and the prosecution of US officials who authorized their torture. On Wednesday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, “People who order or inflict torture cannot be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should also be scrutinized.” Pillay also criticized President Obama’s plan to continue the indefinite imprisonment of Guantanamo prisoners without charge, saying, “There should be no half-measures or new creative ways to treat people as criminals when they have not been found guilty of any crime.” Democracy Now! also See UN - Human Rights Reports
=======================
The following are full of important points (yet admittedly the first is an opinion re. this enormous concern.)
June 27, 2009 Talk Left Memo
here

June 26, 2009 Talk Left Memo
here

Older related: Talk Left March 14, 2009
here

Much Older related: Common Dreams 2006
here

Watch for a possible Op Ed by Prof. Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers' Guild. Her commentary on such US legal/constitutional matters have been, IMO, without peer: here

EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION



"They said to me:‘Welcome to your permanent home’" ...I had gone there without any reason, without any proof, without any accusation ..." Bashmillah

Find information on one of the "bibles" if not THE bible of Extraordinary Rendition Ghost Plane by Stephen Gray here

So-called "rendition" illegal flights of the CIA, as reported by Rzeczpospo (Wikipedia)

ACLU Interviews Wife Of Rendition Victim Abou Elkassim Britel

Here's an interview with the wife of a Rendition Victim: ACLU also at Andyworthington dot co dot uk here

=====
(This item also addresses EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION)
INTRO note by oneheart blogger:

The following is most likely a well-intentioned statement by someone generally "on top" of these matters. Yet how interesting that even someone in this professional capacity is apparently taking it for granted that Obama's "word" US is outlawing E. Renditions - that this has been accomplished or is well on it's way? (See end of this short piece.) Actually, plenty of professional and well-informed folk are barely aware how much torture and E R is still taking place.

Actually - unlike the statement below, Europe should NOT follow the US example- because according to many who are watching these renditions around the globe the US connected renditions have NOT yet ended. If Extraordinary Renditions had or are being outlawed, then where is the evidence? This may well be just another obvious example that the US is currently (not during last administration only) still practicing war crimes?
Connie



Here's the Statement on International Day against Torture on 26 June
==============
Europe should follow the US example

By Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 25.06.2009 - This International Day Against Torture comes three years after my recommendations to the Council of Europe member states following allegations that some of them had aided and abetted the so-called rendition flights and secret detentions in Europe. I drew attention to the need for our member states to have the power to implement their existing obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to civil and state aircraft. We must ensure that the airports and airspace of Europe are not used to transport illegally detained people to countries where they may be tortured. I also pointed to the need to ensure that international rules on diplomatic immunity are not misused. Immunity should not be a license to kidnap or torture people with impunity.

Regrettably, although three years have passed, there still has not been any meaningful response to my recommendations. In the meantime, several investigations have revealed that the European involvement in practices which violated the European Convention on Human Rights was much more widespread than initially thought. Some governments have expressed remorse, but there has been no action to close the legal and administrative gaps which allowed these violations of human rights to take place. Today, it is late, but it is not too late for the European governments to act. They should find inspiration from US President Barack Obama who outlawed rendition, secret detentions and torture during his first few days in office.

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11
--
HREA - here

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.

================================================
<<>> RE: INDEFINITE DETENTION

(Please encourage friends, groups, family and others around the US and the globe to send a short letter like the one below to The WHITE HOUSE Pronto!


Try the email box given just below and if that fails - FAX or CALL (read your letter or speak with notes) Of course, if unfamiliar with this possible move, check-out the various memos above. Consider giving the number or name of the people you represent: family members who agree with you, name of your activist or peace/justice/religious group?

A fellow- activist recommended that we craft a message which suggests or emphasizes that such a move would be unnecessary had there not been a RUIN of any opportunity for a fair trial by torturing not only the likely innocent but also the so-called "high-value,worst-of-the-worst" prisoner -thereby compromising any chance of a (reasonably fair) prosecution.
Please take action right away!

EMAIL BOX HERE

Suggested are messages such as:

I am deeply disturbed by reports tonight that President
Obama is allegedly (seriously considering)drafting an executive order authorizing indefinite detention without charge.

What about the legacy such a ruling would leave our Nation and our children? And for how long?

I completely oppose indefinite detention which is immoral, illegal and contrary to the best of American values.

Even many military and intelligence experts have said--that torture and indefinite detention without charge is an ineffective and often counterproductive way to stop terrorism.

I believe that all Guantanamo detainees should either be charged with a crime and given a fair trial in US federal court, or be released.

Thank you

MORE on potential Indefinite Executive Detention

MUST READ: Harper's Magazine July 2009 here

Luke Mitchell: We Still Torture


This is out now on the check - stands and well worth reading OFF LINE...if you can't find it in the news stand or in a bookstore - maybe you could print it out from internet?
==============
From consortiumnews dot com

Obama's Torture Hypocrisy

By Jason Leopold
June 29, 2009

President Barack Obama just announced that the U.S. government is determined to prosecute officials who are responsible for torturing prisoners. But there’s a catch. Obama’s pledge only applies to torturers working for other governments.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obama quietly released a statement on Friday that called on the international community “to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment.”

Obama singled out the governments of Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe for human rights violations and engaging in “elaborate deceptions” aimed at concealing “their abuses from the eyes of the world... and denying access to international human rights monitors.”

Obama also cited Iraq under the previous government of Saddam Hussein, saying that “with Iraq’s liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of the dictator’s three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people” and “a vast array of sadistic acts perpetrated against the innocent.”

While denouncing alleged torture by states that Washington dislikes, Obama was silent on the controversy over the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and other torture tactics on detainees held by U.S. authorities during the “war on terror.” Some also were held as “ghost prisoners” at “black sites” out of the reach of the international human rights monitors.

Nor did Obama mention how U.S. forces abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the same prison used by Saddam Hussein. Nor was there any reference to prisoners whom the United States “renditioned”...Read More HERE



ORIGINAL LINK here

Story Updated. Obama Considering Indefinite Detention Executive Order
Hotlist by mcjoan

Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 03:00:10 PM PDT

Barack Obama, May 21, 2009: "I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees – not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution."

Last night, the Washington Post and Propublica published a joint article reporting that the Obama administration was considering an executive order that would "reassert presidential authority to incarcerate suspected terrorists indefinitely," according to three anonymous administration sources.

Such an order would embrace claims by former President George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, White House officials are growing increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may prove impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the facility by the president's January 2010 deadline.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt did not directly respond to questions about an executive order but said the administration would address the cases of Guantanamo detainees in a manner "consistent with the national security interests of the United States and the interests of justice."

One administration official suggested the White House was already trying to build support for an executive order.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order can be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should either be prosecuted or released.


FIND HERE TWO APPROPOS ARTICLES on this issue (with many comments on Daily Kos)

Civil liberties groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights immediately responded, leaving it clear that they were not at all supportive of prolonged detention. SEE: CCR's Shane Kadida

Prolonged imprisonment without trial is exactly the Guantanamo system that the President promised to shut down. Whatever form it takes - from Congress or the President's pen - it is anathema to the basic principles of American law and the courts will find it unconstitutional.... Another thing that's odd about this is the idea that this detention authority would somehow be more transient if it were authorized through executive order (which can be reversed at the stroke of the president's pen) rather than a statute (which could sit on the books indefinitely). If the last eight years have taught us anything, it's that executive abuses, left to continue unchecked for many years, have a tendency to congeal into precedent.

Another anonymous administration official gave a denial of the story to Marc Ambinder, but other outlets including the New York Times and the AP appear to have separate confirmation. The denial itself, repeated in an AFP story, says only that the draft order does not exist, not that the administration is not considering the move.

This seems pretty clearly to be a trial balloon by the administration, using a Friday news dump to determine how much backlash there would be against this extremely controversial order. It's a balloon that needs to be popped. A President saying that he has the unilateral power to hold anyone indefinitely outside of a theater of war is unacceptable after the past eight years of untrammeled executive authority. That a Democratic president would do so, after running and winning on a platform of transparency and the rule of law, is absolutely unacceptable. Not to mention unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly in the last decade against the Bush administration.

President Obama also said, in his inaugural address: "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

Which is precisely what this executive order would be: "White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible." It would be unilateral executive action for expedience's sake.

Look at the example Marcy supplies: the evidence being used to hold Walid bin Attash, accused of involvement in the 2000 USS Cole bombing, comes from testimony from Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and is probably inadmissable because it was gained through torture. As Marcy says, "Will Walid bin Attash be deprived a day in Court because we're covering up our own torture?"

This isn't how to solve the thorny problem of the detainees in this ongoing war. It's also not how to "move forward" from the legacy of torture and lawlessness of the past administration. Let's pop this trial balloon, and fast.

View Comments on Daily Kos - Find perhaps over 400 comments by now? And/or place a comment on this blogsite, perhaps?

=====================
A short note on indefinite detention Hotlist by David Waldman

Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:30:08 PM PDT

As mcjoan noted earlier, someone, somewhere is floating the idea of an executive order to implement a system of "prolonged detention" for the Obama administration. Joan certainly covered all the bases in her approach to the story, but I do have my own angle to add.

I was particularly struck by one passage in the Washington Post/Pro Publica article:

One administration official suggested the White House was already trying to build support for an executive order.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order can be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should either be prosecuted or released.

It's not stated explicitly, but since the story goes on to cite the President's speech of May 21st just three sentences later, I don't think it's out of the question to guess that the unnamed administration official above had in mind the President's meeting of May 20th with civil liberties activists and legal scholars when he or she said that the administration was encouraged to adopt any such system through an executive order.

The only problem with that is, I don't recall anyone encouraging any such thing.

My memory of that meeting, of course, is by no means the definitive record. But given the specific focus of my own participation in that meeting, it seems rather unlikely that I would have missed anyone's suggestion that such a policy be implemented by unilateral action of the President. In fact, my comments at the meeting began with the specific warning that any new policies put in place by this administration would undoubtedly survive it, only to be abused by some succeeding administration, no matter what President Obama's intentions in implementing them. So while I see the point in arguing that an executive order can be more easily rescinded, it also seems obvious that it can be reissued just as easily. Or more likely, that a new and more draconian one can be issued in its place, with President Obama's serving as precedent. I doubt that would have escaped notice or comment.

And indeed, as mcjoan noted (via TPM), Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights did comment:

Another thing that's odd about this is the idea that this detention authority would somehow be more transient if it were authorized through executive order (which can be reversed at the stroke of the president's pen) rather than a statute (which could sit on the books indefinitely). If the last eight years have taught us anything, it's that executive abuses, left to continue unchecked for many years, have a tendency to congeal into precedent.

Indeed, that was another part of my focus: that tendency for unchecked executive power to congeal into precedent, for which I relied as I frequently do on Justice Frankfurter's opinion in the Youngstown steel seizure case.

Lo and behold, it is also the focus of today's "told you so" from the right:

The world sure looks different after you take that oath of office, doesn't it? How easily campaign declarations of outrage are forgotten! I bet there's not a president since Truman who hasn't learned to loathe the Supreme Court's decision in the Steel Seizure Case.

So is it just a trial balloon? I don't know. But someone certainly went out of their way to try to manufacture a justification that can lean on the supposed advice (albeit reluctant) of civil liberties groups. And the denial has its own problems:

"There is no executive order. There just isn't one."

That is, it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. There is no executive order. But that wasn't the story. The story was that there was a draft. Which, of course isn't an executive order. It just isn't one.

But whether there's a draft or not, I think it's worth pointing out that I'm not so sure there was any civil liberties group that encouraged the President to act by executive order, either.

"Precisely Wrong" (What the DRONES Did in GAZA) & More Updates on Palestine-Israel



Photos from GAZA

UPDATED June 30, 2009 added to earlier items...
PRECISELY WRONG - On the hellish use of DRONES in GAZA and more.
ASK: What about now in PAKISTAN? (whether or not the Drones take the same form, or "hide" from world view for a while in other disguises - they're all wrong for multitudes of the same and other reasons.)

Please see this telling slide show/documentary as well as the article and a thorough report from Human Rights Watch

GO HERE first

ARTICLE: Israel: Misuse of Drones Killed Civilians in Gaza HERE

REPORT HERE
===================
Palestinians Barely Surviving in Gaza -
REPORT from International Committee of the Red Cross HERE
===================
Much earlier reports on this site oneheartforpeace as the bombing of Gaza was taking place (it may be necessary to go to January on the blogsite?)

here

See more from January and from the young journalist in Gaza who sounds so brave, competent and peace-loving! here

A blatant DENIAL posted by Global Security dot org here
==================
Related Concerns from Israel and Palestine

(The following was sent to my list-serve: Palestinian Christians at YahooGroups dot com)

Demolition orders reach Convent homes inside the Old City
From Jerusalem- Tuesday 23rd of June, 2009

Today the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre has learned of new house demolition orders against at least four Christian families living inside the old city of Jerusalem where local Churches accommodate more than 500 homes for Palestinian families. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Catholic Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land own most of these homes. Churches are already facing difficulty in attaining renovation permits and expansion is almost impossible. One of the Church lawyers confirms that even the Churches already have court cases with the municipality of Jerusalem on similar issues. One of the Church leaders bitterly criticize the different treatment given to Jewish settlers inside the city wall where they are granted permits for expanding and renovating the properties under their control.

In these four cases in particular, the families were addressed individually by the Israeli municipal authorities and court cases are underway. One of the defendants, Sami Wakileh, recalls the Judge telling him, “It is a waste of your precious time. Do not dream of receiving any permit…” This means that the existing home will be demolished sooner or later. Sami's house is actually an old building that he leased from the Church and spent over a hundred thousand dollars to fix and renovate. In another case, Bassam Ayyash, who rents a 50 square meter apartment from the Greek Orthodox Church inside the Patriarchate's convent has also received a demolition order claiming that this 50 square meter apartment is an expansion to his home! Bassam is puzzled with the persistence of the authorities in not agreeing to come and investigate the matter when he confirms, “My only home is the 50 square meter apartment."

Last month, ten Christian families in Beit Hanina, a suburb area of North East Jerusalem, received demolition orders for their six year old apartments in the Al-Sunbula building. Half of the building was licensed originally while permits to formulate the rest were not given. Now all the inhabitants face the same fate if the municipality carries out its threats.

Housing inside Jerusalem has been a burden for all Palestinian families. With an extremely difficult process and impossible permit system coupled with the high cost of living in Jerusalem , building or having one’s own apartment is becoming a dream. The Christian community struggles with the family re-unification system and residency rights restrictions imposed by the Israeli Authorities. When one Jerusalemite cannot live together with his or her spouse who is a West Banker under one roof inside Jerusalem , the ultimate effect is that less and less couples decide to get married. Father Ibrahim Faltas, the Roman Catholic Parish priest of Jerusalem , declared last week that the number of Catholic marriages this year is almost half of what they experienced during the previous years. New Jerusalem Christian families are more and more forced to leave their home city either to the neighboring West Bank or emigrate if they have the chance.

========
END NOTE: I had plans to post much more inspiration here for much needed balance...yet as these reports have just come in I decided I needed to post them and to add to a draft.

Let's hope many and the key folk will soon make the URGENT changes needed - by posting some of this to PAKISTAN newspapers and writing letters to US and Pakistan Authorities. There are so many current parallels and cautions yelling to be heard regarding the use of Drones!

So not only with deep sadness over the agony of Gaza, I am compelled to post these reports in the hope readers/reporters might get the word out to relevant parties. Surely many are disseminating these crucial news around the world. Only multitudes would raise an outcry NOW - perhaps the same may be preventative in other places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Friday, June 26, 2009

US DRONES in Pakistan: Kathy Kelly - Pakistan PM - Others




"...seems that both Italy and Germany have asked to buy a few MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicles. These, of course, are the killer drones that fire missiles and drop bombs covertly and are credited with quite a few high-value target kills in Pakistan's NWFP." (This quote from defensetech dot org doesn't mention the loss of lives nor that these bombs are often indiscriminate.)

The photo to the right is of Drone positioned for "service" (Israel) Question the necessity of these hellish symbols of modern warfare. See why those with little heart for the "frequent mixture" of people on the ground (militants or not)- not to mention irreplacable buildings and concerns for the environment might be soulessly-charmed by the "looks" of sophisticated power and technology as if with a new toy. GO here

Read what Kathy Kelly - who has been in the IDP camps has to say. Kelly is arguably the most respected US Peace Activist of our time. (variously titled - this one gets my attention: "Those who survive Drone attacks may well die slowly" but I want to use Kathy's own website so that you can see she is not a complete stranger to Pakistan nor to other nations where the US has sought to allegedly "help" or agressively "implant" various weaponry with quite mixed and unknown results here You may want to save or bookmark Kelly's remarkable bio for perhaps a later look? here

Pakistani PM Calls for End to US Drone Attacks - Pakistan’s prime minister has renewed calls for an end to US drone attacks on Pakistani soil. On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani released a statement calling for a halt to the attacks shortly after meeting US National Security Adviser James Jones. here

Stop drone air raids, Pakistan tells US
here

US Drones in Pakistan: Both Friend and Foe? (see various comments here - some of course more reflective and informed than others which merely spew hateful ignorance)
LA Times here

Editorial Note from oneheart blogger:
There have been reports much earlier that US drones were "based" in Pakistan and there are some reports that US and Pakistan military operations are still connected in the use of drones "behind the scenes". Perhaps these calls by Pakistan for the US to end drone attacks - as recently publicized across the world - will have some positive effect?

Let's hope and pray this is the case given the horrible results and human rights out cries after other uses of US drones. We in the west, for the most part - have yet to judiciously weigh and ultimately experience the end result of using these unmanned weapons which repeatedly inflame "righteous cause" toward militant terrorism. How obvious this is to any who have personally known the damage first hand or been told by people who have. Just imagine the degree of harm viewed and experienced on the ground - whether or not our media are properly covering these gruesome details.

VICTORIES to celebrate on Int. Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Breakthroughs, Announcements, Actions...and other items are highly recommended for those who have the time and interest....There are ACTIONS on many of these recommended or implied - Let's put our money where our mouth is....And make your calls in your own voice and heart wherever possible - calling on the legacy that the leader wishes to leave to his or her own children and grandchildren.

At the end, there's also the URL to the Convention against Torture and a short review for a book: -Torture is a Moral Issue-

A VICTORY Against Torture! here

More from SOAW dot org here House of Representatives Votes to Force the Pentagon to Release Information to SOA Watch (there is more to do!)

TODAY is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture here(Find a call for ACTION for torture survivors at Human Rights First!)

Find an interesting write-up for this special day on Andy Worthington's site
here where I found the FIRST ever published photo of BAGRAM PRISON'S interior.
A "sally port" holds detainees before their transfer to cage cells

Also you will find on Andy's site (as well as at Democracy Now! - a video/audio with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewing Andy and hear a "bite" of Obama unfortunately joking about the unfortunate Uighers.



Another recent VICTORY! (read all about it in numerous places with APA US Torture involved) The American Psychological Association at last comes to full terms with their complicity with torture and here are some of the behind the scenes facts!
here

The long time CIA connection
here



The APA Board makes major statement
here

Hoorah for the honest and compassionate psychologists who spoke loud and clear to power!

ALSO RECOMMENDED for more study and action:

Psychologists/Torture Video and More - No Place to Hide Psychologists and the APA (American Psychological Association)here

US Political Action After Downing Street here

Busiest activist DETAINED PRISONERS group with continual updates and more mostly about US and British detainees in the so-called "war on terror"
Cage Prisoners here

The most thorough site on GITMO files, updates and more (the Comments are unusually educational and lively): Andy Worthington's amazing, energetic work!
here

Broken Laws/Broken Lives - A Medical Study here

See various sites for North Carolina Stop Torture Now - a grassroots coalition of individuals working to end the practice of extraordinary rendition.

here

Check out: NCStopTortureNow dot org See Blog and MUCH more

NCSTN at the UNC Parr Center for Ethics' Symposium: "Torture & Interrogation:
here

CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE here

Also keep watching the long-standing Human Rights Groups and Humanitarian International Organizations: Human Rights First, Amnesty, International Committee of the Red Cross Red Crescent, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders and various other professional groups without borders.



BOOK REVIEW
New Book! Torture Is a Moral Issue: Christians, Jews, Muslims, and People of Conscience Speak OutTwenty four scholars, military officers, and religious leaders call for an immediate end to the practice of torture, paying particular attention to its use in the American war on terror. Writers include: William Cavanaugh, Rabbi Edward Feld, David Gushee, Imam Yahya Hendi, Scott Horton, George Hunsinger, Adm. John Hutson, Ingrid Mattson, Sister Dianna Ortiz, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Carol Wickersham. Torture Is a Moral Issue begins with background material, including vivid firsthand accounts from a torture survivor and a former U.S. interrogator in Iraq. The heart of the book contains respectively Christian, Jewish, and Muslim arguments against torture, and the final part charts a way forward toward a solution.Dr. George Hunsinger, Professor of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, is the founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.$19.95 includes postage and handling.


Paperback Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co256 pages; dimensions (in inches): 6 x 9; 2008ISBN: 978-0-8028-6029-3Price:$19.95 here

We need not only to be aware of the horrific treatment of human beings with the use of torture but also the spiraling out of control of lying as it's based on an "incoherent mosaic" (as Andy said) of false accusations that implicate more and more uncharged and often found to be innocent people and lead even to war such as the misuse of the prisoner who committed the alleged suicide in a Libyan cell (look this up on Andy's site)

JUST IN June 26 PM ET
Current News

6/26, Ari Shapiro, National Public Radio, Proposal Offers Specifics On Preventive Detention

6/26, Andy Worthington, Huffington Post, Never Forget: The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

6/26, William Fisher, Inter Press Service, U.N. Asked to Probe CIA Rendition

6/26, Examiner.com, National Disbar Torture Lawyers Coalition to File Formal Disciplinary Complaints and Call for Dismissal of 'Torture Architect' and Current Top CIA Lawyer, John Rizzo, and Other Current and Former CIA Lawyers

6/26, Delia Lloyd, Politics Daily, Human Rights Expert: U.S. Should Launch Torture Probe

6/25, Fox News, FBI's Reading of Rights to Terrorists Riles Some Lawmakers

6/25, Tom Deweese, Canada Free Press, Government Gone Mad in a Total Surveillance Society

6/25, Jon Stokes, Ars Technica, FBI compounds mystery with secret justification of gag order

All of these above at bordc dot org (scroll down for news) or GO here
Let stop this Insane Morale Breakdown Spiraling Out of Control! We can do it!

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

(Most of the photos here are from TASSC)

*** Learn more about the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture -
26 June 2009

United Nations Press release - 25 June 2009 - here

“The prohibition of torture is one of the most absolute to be found anywhere in international law. Article 2 of the Convention against Torture is unequivocal: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

And no one is let off the hook – neither the actual torturers themselves, nor the policy- makers and public officials who define the policy or give the orders.

A total of 146 states have ratified the Convention against Torture (CAT) in the 25 years since it was adopted in 1984 – in other words, three-quarters of the world’s states. This is impressive by comparison with many other treaties, but unimpressive given the inhumanity of the practices this Convention seeks to ban. I urge more states to ratify this treaty, and its Optional Protocol, and I urge those who have already done so to ensure they abide by the very clear rules it contains.

Many states that have ratified CAT continue to practise torture, some of them on a daily basis. Other, which do not practise it themselves, enable it to happen by sending people at risk back to states where they know torture is carried out. This, too, is clearly prohibited by CAT (Article 3).



The terrorist acts that shook the world on 11 September 2001 had a devastating impact on the fight to eliminate torture. Some states that had previously been careful not to practise or condone torture became less scrupulous. State lawyers began to look for ingenious ways to get round CAT, or stretch its boundaries. The Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, in particular, became high-profile symbols of this regression, and new terms such as “water-boarding” and “rendition” entered the public discourse, as human rights lawyers and advocates looked on in dismay.

I believe we are finally starting to turn the page on this extremely unfortunate chapter of recent history, with counter-terrorism measures starting to move back in to line with international human rights standards. As a former international judge, who has dealt with more cases involving torture than I care to remember, and now as the UN’s top human rights official, I certainly hope this is the case.

Leadership is required to end this grotesque practice. In January, I welcomed the fact that Barak Obama’s very first actions as the new President of the United States included decisions to close Guantanamo and ban methods of interrogation, such as water-boarding, which amount to torture or otherwise contravene international law. He has set an example of what a leader can do, in terms of policy and practice, to uphold the total prohibition on torture.



But there is still much to do before the Guantanamo chapter is truly brought to a close. Its remaining inmates must either be tried before a court of law – like any other suspected criminal – or set free. Those who risk torture or other ill-treatment in their country of origin must be given a new home, where they can start to build a new life, in the United States or elsewhere. I welcome the fact that in recent weeks a number of countries have agreed to take in a few people in this position, and urge others to follow suit, including first and foremost the United States itself.

There should be no half-measures, or new creative ways to treat people as criminals when they have not been found guilty of any crime. Guantanamo showed that torture and unlawful forms of detention can all too easily creep back in to practice during times of stress, and there is still a long way to go before the moral high ground lost since 9/11 can be fully reclaimed.

As CAT makes clear, people who order or inflict torture cannot be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should also be scrutinized. “Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture” (CAT Article 4).

Equally importantly, victims of torture must be helped to recover from one of the worst ordeals that a human being can face. The physical and mental scars of torture are excruciating, the effect on families devastating, and there are often long-term socio-economic effects, including a stigma that can be extremely hard to erase. Victims of torture must be compensated and cared for – for as long as it takes to enable them once again to lead a relatively normal life.



What happened in Guantanamo, while reprehensible, nevertheless pales in comparison to the scale and nature of the torture taking place in prisons, police stations and other government premises in countries all around the world. These are some of the darkest corners of our planet. Victims include not just suspected terrorists and political activists, but also minor criminals and even street-children. There are thousands of such places, and tens of thousands of victims, about whose atrocious suffering we hear next to nothing.

I call on leaders across the world to send a clear and unequivocal message that torture will no longer be tolerated, and that those who practice it are themselves committing a very serious crime.

Torture is a barbaric act. I believe that no state whose regime conducts or condones torture can consider itself civilized. I believe states themselves recognized this when they agreed the strong and uncompromising text of the Convention against Torture. And I believe, starting in this 25th anniversary year, we should all make a much stronger effort to root out these nefarious practices and the public officials who contravene the terms of this most fundamental of human rights treaties.”
--
HREA - here

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.


===================
KEY references:

Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International TASSC International's Film "Breaking the Silence: Torture Survivors Speak Out" has been viewed in over 30 different locations around the United States ...
Board of Directors - In the News - Films From Powells' Bookstore
here

At TASSC also find suggested Books / Memoirs of Torture Survivors /. "Sister Dianna's story will interest anyone wishing to understand how rape and torture break
here

Survivors of Torture, International
Torture survivors have knowledge and skills to contribute to our community. SURVIVORS helps individuals heal and rebuild their lives. Read more. ...
here

TORTURE: never forget - NI 327 - A day in the life of survival
The path towards survival a victim of torture has to travel is slow...self-help groups can be useful. here

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CONGRATS to PAKISTAN!



About time that Pakistan had some cheering up. What could be much better than this well-deserved success with World Cricket?! Recently, I was encouraged to post something on this event by a new Pakistani friend. So here's my start. Look for my friend's catchy enthusiasm remarks coming as soon as I can get a few translations.

Maybe you readers want to take a breather from the serious onslaught of dire news as well? Just read and watch the catchy enthusiasm about this recent victory! I'm not much of a sports-watcher and certainly no expert but felt that my blogsite needed something lighter now and then anyway. And sometimes such universal joys can be one bridge toward peace, no?



You will learn a lot and find the most ALIVE information and comments from Pakistan itself, of course! Try here at this Pakistan Newspaper, Dawn dot com here with plenty of behind the scenes items, readers enthusiasm - maybe you'll add your own congrats?, photos and VIDEO Highlights!

And this one with the telling comment "This victory is more important then our 1992 World Cup triumph." here

Another VIDEO: here


Credit to Dawn and wires for photos
*****************
Following is a beautiful, contagiously glad comment from my new Pakistani friend who goes by ReeBz. The few translations are from URDU:
======

We are more than we are, WE ARE ONE!!!!

Hum hen Pakistani hum to jeetain gay, han jeetain gay...(from a song by Famous Pakistani ex-singer Junaid Jamshed. In English: "We are Pakistani, so We will win" in this song he is saying as we are Pakistani we shall win every time no matter how bad the situations and conditions)

I'm happily amazed how we all stayed united during the Twenty20 WorldCup, especially in the semi-final and the final. Only a few representatives of Pakistan were struggling for Pakistan's victory seven seas far, but here each and every Pakistani's heart was beating for Pakistan's success. Every loving Pakistani was busy in praying for their victory - thousands of sms prayers made me smile,cheerful,excited and hopeful.

I'm not a die hard fan of cricket. I don't even know the basic rules. I'm totally unaware of the technicalities of this game. I don't know what role the pitch played in our victory nor do I have any information whether it was the batting pitch or bowling. I just know one thing: I'm a Pakistani and I WON!!

We proved our mettle in LORD'S.

We gave a message to those who are wise enough to understand the hints:
Don't try us - we are not easy to be defeated!! When we get united we are more than we are - WE ARE ONE!!!

We are one nation - under one flag. We are Proud Pakistanis, We are Brave MUSLIMS!!

Like all Pakistanis my eyes got dim with thankfulness and gratefulness to Allah when our team members offered "sajida-e-shukar"*** immediately. That's what we are! (see note below)

Here I want to quote the golden words by Shahid Afridi. When he was asked in the Semi-final if his team was going to win the final as well. He gave a very straight-forward reply with a very confident tone and firm belief in Allah. It was short but was all-in-all.

He replied " INSHAALLAH"

kafir he to shamsheer p karta he bharosa,
Momin he to be- taigh bhi lerta he sipahi..

(These are the poetic lines from geat Eastern Poet "allama iqbal"

One depends on the sword when lacking in faith:
One who has faith may not need weapons in the fight.)

END

*** sajida-e-shukar: There is no Exact word for it in English or perhaps for non-Muslims - still, this may define the meaning -"prostration in gratitude"

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THANX so much, ReeBz - I am all fired up by the event, your post and the use of poetic URDU, translated with such poetry as well! With Gratitude! Connie

Readers, how about placing a COMMENT of support for Pakistan and the expert Cricket team below on this site? (there are usual google password requirements to post but if you want, you can send your comment to me newlease7@yahoo.com (put "Congrats Pakistan" in subject heading)