April 9, 2012
By Madison Ruppert, Contributor
Recently I reported on a study which showed that states who approve of institutionalized torture, also known as “enhanced interrogation” must accept that they are going to torture innocent people for telling the truth.
This was a disturbing revelation for some, although many of my readers clearly realized that this was the case and made comments to the effect that it was just stating the obvious.
Indeed, in my mind, no government which allows torture to be carried out is legitimate, and that includes the government of the United States of America in the modern day.
Philip Zelikow helped bring much of these disturbing practices to light as he was in an unusual position as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s policy representative to the National Security Council Deputies Committee on matters surrounding intelligence and terrorism.
It is my contention that since Zelikow’s tenure, our government has become increasingly tyrannical and expansive with the now almost unbelievably large Department of Homeland Security (DHS), increasing use of Big Brother technology, and the near-complete eradication of our First Amendment rights, not to mention our Fourth Amendment rights and our now non-existent guarantee of due process.
Now Zelikow’s memo which challenges the supposed legal justifications for these practices has been released, around seven years after it was originally written, and contains some damning statements, including designating the “enhanced interrogation” practices as war crimes.
Zelikow first gained access to the Office of Legal Council (OLC) memos which outlined the supposed justification for torture shortly after they were issued in May of 2005, at which point he also became aware of the details of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program.
March 15, 2012
By Eric Blair
“The world hates George Bush and Dick Cheney so much that they can’t even travel outside of the US. Why are they not in jail?” –KTRN
Everyone in the world seems to recognize the obvious crimes perpetrated by the Bush/Cheney regime. Their overwhelming negative status in the world has now confined them to personal prisons where they can no longer travel abroad for public events. It appears they’re only welcome in heavily-secured private dragon lairs for the rest of their waking years. But even those locations are shrinking for these torturers and mass murderers.
Cheney, scheduled to speak in Toronto with his daughter next month, had to cancel the speaking appearance due to “security concerns stemming from their experiences in Vancouver in September 2011,” according to a press release about the event.
The September event referred to in the press release was hardly a public event at all. It cost $500 a ticket to attend and took place at the Vancouver Club which the Canadian Press called “one of Vancouver’s most exclusive clubs.” Still, the public caught wind of the event and staged a rambunctious protest calling for Cheney’s arrest. The angry crowd caused Cheney to be locked in the club for seven hours longer than he was scheduled.
In February of last year, George W. Bush had to cancel a speaking engagement in Switzerland because human rights groups put pressure on the Swiss government to arrest him over torture allegations if he enters the country. Even though officials claimed Bush had diplomatic immunity because he was a former head of state, they recognized that torture is a legitimate crime under international law. Organizers of the event felt the “atmosphere had become too threatening” and the gala went on without Bush.
Since Bush left office he has traveled outside the United States on two occasions with former president Bill Clinton. The first was a 2010 trip to Haiti after the devastating earthquake where he made a complete fool of himself. After shaking hands with a desperate survivor he scowled in disgust and wiped his hand on Clinton’s shoulder as if it was covered in filth:
March 12, 2012
By Eric Blair
“Is it time to impeach Obama? The signing of the NDAA should be enough to get him out of office.” –KTRN
Since 2005, Veterans for Peace and others have been calling for the impeachment of the sitting president for war crimes. After their demands to lawmakers to uphold the rule of law against Bush were largely ignored, they renewed their effort to impeach Obama once he continued to bomb sovereign nations without congressional approval. Now, lawmakers seem to have finally decided to take the rule of law and Separation of Powers seriously.
Obama will face impeachment over his failure to seek congressional authorization before launching offensive military action in Libya last year. Official impeachment proceedings have now been filed in both the House and Senate.
Last week, North Carolina Representative Walter Jones filed an Impeachment Resolution in the House H.CON.RES.107.IH stating “Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
“Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
February 22, 2012
By David Swanson
“Here is a great ‘tongue in cheek’ list of just how crazy the US would be if they attacked Iran. This shows just how absurd it all really is. Click the link below for the full list.” –KTRN
1. Iran has threatened to fight back if attacked, and that’s a war crime. War crimes must be punished.
2. My television says Iran has nukes. I’m sure it’s true this time. Just like with North Korea. I’m sure they’re next. We only bomb places that really truly have nukes and are in the Axis of Evil. Except Iraq, which was different.
3. Iraq didn’t go so badly. Considering how lousy its government is, the place is better off with so many people having left or died. Really, that one couldn’t have worked out better if we’d planned it.
4. When we threaten to cut off Iran’s oil, Iran threatens to cut off Iran’s oil, which is absolutely intolerable. What would we do without that oil? And what good is buying it if they want to sell it?
5. Iran was secretly behind 9-11. I read it online. And if it wasn’t, that’s worse. Iran hasn’t attacked another nation in centuries, which means its next attack is guaranteed to be coming very soon.
January 16, 2012
By Jonathan Turley
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were really free? –KTRN
Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.
Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?
While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.
These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.
The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.
Assassination of U.S. citizens
President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)
Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)
The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)
The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)
The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.
The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)
The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)
September 1, 2010
by Ben Feller
Claiming no victory, President Barack Obama formally ended the U.S. combat role in Iraq after seven long years of bloodshed, declaring firmly Tuesday night: “It’s time to turn the page.” Now, he said, the nation’s most urgent priority is fixing its own sickly economy.
From the Oval Office, where George W. Bush first announced the invasion that would come to define his presidency, Obama addressed millions who were divided over the war in his country and around the world. Fiercely opposed to the war from the start, he said the United States “has paid a huge price” to give Iraqis the chance to shape their future — a cost that now includes more than 4,400 troops dead, tens of thousands more wounded and hundreds of billions of dollars spent.
In a telling sign of the domestic troubles weighing on the United States and his own presidency, Obama turned much of the emphasis in a major war address to the dire state of U.S. joblessness. He said the Iraq war had stripped America of money needed for its own prosperity, and he called for an economic commitment at home to rival the grit and purpose of a military campaign.
In his remarks of slightly less than 20 minutes, only his second address from the Oval Office, Obama looked directly into the TV camera, hands clasped in front of him on his desk, family photos and the U.S. and presidential flags behind him. His tone was somber.
Even as he turns control of the war over to the Iraqis — and tries to cap one of the most divisive chapters in recent American history — Obama is escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. He said that winding down Iraq would allow the United States “to apply the resources necessary to go on offense” in Afghanistan, now the nation’s longest war since Vietnam.
As for Iraq, for all the finality of Obama’s remarks, the war is not over. More Americans are likely to die. The country is plagued by violence and political instability, and Iraqis struggle with constant shortages of electricity and water.
Obama is keeping up to 50,000 troops in Iraq for support and counterterrorism training, and the last forces are not due to leave until the end of 2011 at the latest.
As the commander in chief over a war he opposed, Obama took pains to thank troops for their sacrifice but made clear he saw the day as more the marking of a mistake ended than a mission accomplished.
He spoke of strained relations with allies, anger at home and the heaviest of wartime tolls.
“We have met our responsibility,” Obama said. “Now it is time to turn the page.”
To underscore his point, Obama said he had telephoned called Bush, whom he had taunted so often in the 2008 campaign, and praised the former Republican president in the heart of his speech.
“It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset,” Obama said. “Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”
In a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, the Iraq war began with bipartisan congressional backing — based on what turned out to be flawed intelligence — over what Bush called a “grave danger” to the world posed by Saddam Hussein. Hussein is gone and Iraqis live in greater freedom.
Yet Iraq’s leaders are unable to form a new government long after March elections that left no clear winner. The uncertainty has left an opening for insurgents to pound Iraqi security forces, hardly the conditions the U.S. envisioned when Obama set the Aug. 31 transition deadline last year.
Obama pressed Iraq’s leaders, saying it was time to show urgency and be accountable.
He also sought both to assure his own nation that the war was finally winding down and yet also promise Iraq and those watching across the Middle East that the U.S. was not simply walking away.
“Our combat mission is ending,” he said, “but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.”
The American public has largely moved on from the Iraq war. Almost forgotten is the intensity that defined the debate for much of the decade and drove people into streets in protest.
Yet what grew out of the war was something broader, Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive force against perceived threats. Running for office, Obama said the war inflamed anti-American sentiments and undermined U.S. standing in the world in addition to stealing a focus from Afghanistan.
He made mention of it again on Tuesday: “Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone.”
The president, though, also was presented with a tricky moment — standing firm in his position without disparaging the sacrifice and courage of those who fought.
Earlier in the day, at Fort Bliss, Texas, a post that has endured losses during the war, Obama tried to tell the stretched military that all the work and bloodshed in Iraq was not in vain. He asserted that because of the U.S. efforts in the Iraq war, “America is more secure.”
Not everyone was ready to embrace the White House view of the day.
“Over the past several months, we’ve often heard about ending the war in Iraq but not much about winning the war in Iraq,” said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
Boehner said that congressional leaders who opposed the troop surge that led to advances in Iraq are now taking credit for it.
“Today we mark not the defeat those voices anticipated — but progress,” Boehner said in an address to the American Legion’s national convention in Milwaukee.