April 13, 2010 archive


I came to understand that there were several different reasons for the refusal to release detainees in Guantanamo, even those who were likely innocent. These reasons continued to the time of my departure from the Department of State in 2005. At least part of the problem was that it was politically impossible to release them. The concern expressed was that if they were released to another country, even an ally such as the United Kingdom, the leadership of the Defense Department would be left without any plausible explanation to the American people, whether the released detainee was subsequently found to be innocent by the receiving country, or whether the detainee was truly a terrorist and, upon release were it to then occur, would return to the war against the U.S.

Another concern was that the detention efforts at Guantanamo would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were. Such results were not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DOD.


To our endless shame, we’ve known all along that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al, rate amongst the most boundless liars and despicable war criminals, responsible for at least hundreds of thousands, and perhaps in excess of a million innocent deaths.   Congress bent over backwards to pass the military commissions act because they knew most of the detainees were innocent, as indicated by William Haynes insistence that none could be found innocent and acquitted:

Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.

Stopping Torture: My Mission, I Need Your Help

As many of you know, my husband, Dan, was a Vietnam vet who survived torture. Dan suffered from his injuries for over thirty years, until his fatal heart attack four and a half years ago. When he got back to the US, Dan had to have all of the toenails on both of his feet removed, to try to get rid of the bamboo infection from where they had inflicted pain to try to get him to tell them what they wanted to know. There was never enough food in the house to fill the hole left by the food deprivation he had suffered. He never got a full night’s sleep. He was till waking up screaming the week before he died.

Dan left me with a mission, to stop torture as the law, policy and practice of the United States, and to fight to have those responsible held legally accountable.


Greens: US must press Israel to end settlements; divestment urged as Israeli outrages continue

Greens: President Obama must press Israel to end East Jerusalem settlements

• Green Party urges divestment as Israeli outrages mount

WASHINGTON, DC — President Obama must put pressure on Israel immediately to stop the construction of settlements and displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Green Party leaders and candidates said today.

“President Obama should send Prime Minister Netanyahu a message: enough is enough. If Israel continues to violate Palestinian human rights, the US must cancel the $30 billion military aid package pledged to Israel for 2009-2018. The plan to build 1,600 housing units for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem is the latest outrage. Although a rumored US abstension from a possible UN Security Council resolution against the settlements would be an improvement over its usual veto on Israel’s behalf, this would still be an act of moral cowardice,” said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. (News story on the possible UN resolution: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8591714.stm)

“The White House’s angry response to the East Jerusalem settlement announcement was a necessary first step, but it needs to be followed by concrete action, like support for a UN resolution against the settlements or actually withdrawing military aid. President Obama should show the kind of leadership that led Eisenhower to demand that Israel leave Sinai in 1955,” said Ms. Everette.

The Green Party has demanded that the US end military assistance to Israel, which has used such aid to displace Palestinians from their homes and farm lands, hold them in concentration camp conditions, maintain Bantustans in the style of apartheid-era South Africa, and launch illegal military assaults such as last year’s bloody invasion of Gaza.

“While the international community has been unable to deal with Israel’s violations after decades of UN resolutions, civil society has increasingly endorsed BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) as a powerful nonviolent strategy to pressure Israel into ending the Palestinian occupation and guaranteeing equality for all in Israel-Palestine. In 2005, the Green Party endorsed a BDS resolution (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2005_11_28.shtml) comparable to the one passed by the Senate of the Associated Students of UC Berkeley in March,” said Derek Grigsby, Green candidate for State Representative in Michigan, District 7 ([email protected]).

The Berkeley students’ bill calls on the university to divest its assets from two General Electric and United Technologies for “materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government’s occupation of the Palestinian territories” and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel’s illegal actions in the Occupied Territories (http://blogs.asuc.org/2010/03/18/announcements/sb-118-amended-passed).

Greens have urged the White House and Congress to reject the influence of AIPAC and to establish Middle East policy based on recognition that the rights of Palestinians must be equal to the rights of Israelis, on peaceful negotiation to resolve the conflict, and complete regional nuclear disarmament. Greens have noted the hypocrisy of applying sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear ambitions without insisting that Israel get rid of its nuclear weapons — especially since Israel, unlike Iran, has launched military attacks on other countries. (See “Arab Leaders Call for Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons” Earth Times March 28, 2010, http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/316159,arab-leaders-call-for-middle-east-free-of-nuclear-weapons.html#ixzz0jUbcWzVi)

“We encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders — and President Obama — to follow the lead of human rights activists like Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, organizer of the Wheels of Justice tour (http://justicewheels.org). In his embrace of nonviolent resistance as a tactic for justice, Dr. Qumsiyeh continues an often unrecognized history of Palestinian non-violent resistance and keeps alive the tradition of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. In response, the Israeli army has targeted him for arrest,” said Tony Affigne, Rhode Island Green and member of the party’s International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl).

Dr. Qumsiyeh (http://qumsiyeh.org), former associate professor of genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine and a member of the Green Party of Connecticut before he moved back to Palestine, wrote about his experiences in a New Haven Register op-ed published on March 9, 2010 (“Peaceful protest in Israel can lead to arrest,” http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2010/03/09/opinion/doc4b95ab40a3642160727871.txt).

“The US’s uncritical support for Israel and flow of military and financial aid endanger US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten US security and global stability. Even Gen. Petraeus and VP Biden have admitted this,” said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for US Congress in Illinois, District 12 (http://www.rodgerjennings.org). (See “The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story,” Foreign Policy, March 13, 2010, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/14/the_petraeus_briefing_biden_s_embarrassment_is_not_the_whole_story). “The Gaza assault, which couldn’t have happened without US weapons, was a major turning point for people worldwide, including many American Jews. Like the misery that continues for Gazans, the memory of that horrific assault lingers.”

Greens note that, until recently, a campaign to silence critics of Israeli policies and actions helped maintain unilateral support for Israel, especially in the US, and that censorship of such criticism has sustained the conflict. Many US Greens expressed alarm when the Heinrich Boell Foundation (http://www.boell.de), a legally independent political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party, canceled February speaking engagements in Germany by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, an American Jewish scholar, child of Holocaust survivors, and author of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust (http://www.normanfinkelstein.com).

“There is increasing recognition that the two-state solution is not viable. Israel-Palestine is already a de facto single state, mainly because of Israel’s illegal settlement policies, with over 500,000 Israeli Jews living in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. It’s time to consider the one-state solution — one homeland for both peoples — with a secular democracy that ensures full and equal rights regardless of religion or ethnicity, ” said Farheen Hakeem, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. (See “Palestinians Increasingly Back 1-State,” Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2010, http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=171559 and “Who’s Afraid of a One-State Solution?” by Dmitry Reider, Foreign Policy, March 31, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/31/whos_afraid_of_a_one_state_solution)


Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

“Ensure Israel arms curbs, say MPs”
BBC News, March 30, 2010

“Open Letter to Berkeley Students on their Historic Israeli Divestment Bill”
By Naomi Klein, Common Dreams, March 31, 2010

“Palestinians increasingly back 1-state”
Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2010

“US Can’t Afford Military Aid to Israel”
Josh Ruebner, The Huffington Post, February 26, 2010

“Evidence of misuse of US weapons in Gaza”
Amnesty International, February 23, 2009

US Campaign to End the Occupation

Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States
Winter 2010 issue now online

• Green Party Speakers Bureau: Greens available to speak on foreign policy http://www.gp.org/speakers/speakers-foreign-policy.php

ERSKINE BOWLES TO 90 YEAR OLD MOTHER: We All Have to Make Sacrifices

From USA Today:

Erskine Bowles realized how tough his task will be leading President Obama’s War on the Federal Budget deficit when he told his 90 year old mother of his appointment.

She was proud of him.  Then she said, “Don’t mess with my Medicare.”

Yet the only solutions capable of raising enough money are politically dangerous …: tax increases and major reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Says Bowles:

We can’t do this without a lot of pain


Open Source

Tea-Bagging the Movement!

You have got to love it when people decide to “out-crazy” the crazies.

The scheme reads like a sequel to “Being John Malkovich”: Levins group of protesters plan to get in the heads of tea partiers at the Tax Day Tea Parties nationwide Thursday and manipulate them right out of relevance. They’ll dress like tea partiers, talk like tea partiers and carry signs like tea partiers. In fact, according to Levin they’ll be completely indistinguishable from tea partiers, except for one thing — they won’t be out-crazied by anyone.

“Our goal is that whenever a tea partier says ‘Barack Obama was not born in America,’ we’re going be right right there next to them saying, ‘yeah, in fact he wasn’t born on Earth! He’s an alien!” Levin explained. He said that by making the tea parties sound like a gathering of crazy people — his group’s goal — the movement will lose its power.

I’m dying here!

“Upon inspection,” NATO forces “discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus.”


You guys are genius’

checkpoint and convoy shootings have not declined, worrying commanders who believe that such killings are turning Afghans against foreign forces.

Yes, killing people who ride the bus, might just turn people against you.


General McChrystal:

in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”

But, go right ahead boys and shoot up a bus.    

Economic Populism: A Winner in 2010?

As I suspected would be the case, Democrats intend to take on the conservative wing of the Supreme Court and in so doing make it into an election year issue.  In a year where successful narratives for the party in power are few and where the prevailing conventional wisdom seems to be one of limiting inevitable GOP gains, I am pleased to see this degree of push back, though I note by no means will it alone be sufficient to secure majority status for both the House and Senate.  It is a good start, but it cannot be the end all, be all.  When people are hurting for jobs, income, and peace of mind, the existence of an activist Supreme Court is less important and less pressing.  

The only problem I see with this strategy is that it doesn’t necessarily channel voter frustration the way that, for example, anger at former President Bush did back in 2008.  A desire to take on the Supreme Court for its abuses of power is, at least now, a minor priority, and the people who do feel sufficiently outraged are self-identified Progressives or Democrats.  If the intent is purely to unify the base and revitalize party loyalists, then I can understand the logic.  But as it stands now, many independents and self-identified conservatives of any leaning unfortunately often find nothing especially objectionable about recent SCOTUS decisions.  They don’t consider it a particularly pertinent bread and butter issue that relates directly to their own lives.  Everyone votes based, to some degree or another, on their own self-interest, but this degree of apathy is due, in part, to the fact that the topic has never really been adequately framed in terms that resonate well with the electorate.  

As President Barack Obama mulls possible replacements for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the administration and congressional aides are gravitating toward a strategy that goes beyond the goals of a run-of-the-mill confirmation fight – to define a corporations-vs.-the-common-man battle between Democrats and the high court.  

Taking a populist stance on this matter does make sense, but thus far economic populism has been underused by Democrats.  The position stated above has been weakly rendered up until now and there has been no unified voice to advance it.  If Democrats wish to come out strongly against unpopular decisions like Citizens United v. FEC then it certainly would be interesting to see the effort played with the American people and with the mainstream media.  The Obama Administration has, much to the frustration of many, always taken care to hedge its bets regarding passionate denunciations of offending parties, particularly regarding financial matters–one day forceful populism, the next day conciliatory language.  Throwing down the gauntlet means that the gauntlet comes down and stays down.  Half-measures are perceived by most as as weak, not politically shrewd.

The Making of a Criminal Terrorist Mindset

April 12: Rachel Maddow previews the two-hour msnbc special documentary based on Timothy McVeigh’s prison interviews, scheduled to air April 19, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

McVeigh’s path to terrorist

Docudharma Times Tuesday April 13

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Revolving door of wars tied to severe PTSD

Borneo’s ‘Lost World’ to be nominated World Heritage Site


Lehman Channeled Risks Through ‘Alter Ego’ Firm


Judge who targeted Russia’s neo-Nazis is found shot dead

Analysis: error, pressure or lost in translation

Middle East

Yemen balks at possible US strike on cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Militant at Border


Rioters vent fury at US after Nato troops kill Afghan civilians on bus

Kyrgyzstan’s ousted President Bakiyev’s immunity lifted


Acting leader of Nigeria tries to reassure skeptics

Latin America

Rio de Janeiro police occupy slums as city fights back against drug gangs

Eugene Robinson cracks some ribs.

[Slavery] amounts to much more than [Haley Barbour’s] “diddly” that so many Americans try hard to avoid coming to terms with the reality of slavery. It wasn’t just “a bad thing.” Littering is a bad thing. Slavery was this nation’s Original Sin, and yet many people will not look at it except through a gauze of Spanish moss.

The Atlantic slave trade was one of the last millennium’s greatest horrors. An estimated 17 million Africans, most of them teenagers, were snatched from their families, stuffed into the holds of ships and brought to the New World. As many as 7 million of them died en route, either on the high seas or at “seasoning” camps in the Caribbean where they were “broken” to the will of their masters.

Haley, Haley, Haley.

If he has never done so, Barbour should hold in his hands some of the leg irons, manacles and other restraints that were used to subdue the Africans. He should visit some of the plantations where slave cabins still stand — there are plenty in his state — to get a sense of how the Africans lived. He should spend a long, hot day picking cotton. He should read the accounts of plantation life written by former slaves, and then he should explain why there is any reason to “honor” soldiers who fought to perpetuate a system that could never have functioned without constant, deliberate, unflinching cruelty.


Whoops, here’s Robinson’s link.

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