Saturday, January 15, 2011

Civility Sought; Issues Of The Very Nature Of This Nation Remain On The Table; A New Reality Requires A Change Within Ourselves.

Civility Sought; Issues Of The Very Nature Of This Nation Remain On The Table; A New Reality Requires A Change Within Ourselves.

America will have to face some very ugly truths about itself, about human instincts and nature that we tolerate in silence.

The change being given lip service to at the moment will be momentary and hypocritical if we do take a stand that be horribly disruptive, but a paradigm shift in this nation’s personality and the direction of our government cannot be achieved with silence, apathy and occasional self-incrimination, self-flagellation.

Facing the realities of social, financial, governmental and moral decay that are rotten the very fabric of America is essential, else wise we are engaging in a polite hypocritical suicidal ritual. 

Rogue American: The Quiet Mutiny
How Privatization, Religion and Constitutional
Abuses Have Created a ‘Shadow’ State
by Gordon Duff l Veterans Today

A little over 2 weeks ago, John Wheeler III, former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, a man whose Washington resume put him in contact with presidents, was found in the back of a garbage truck.  Two week later, there is no police investigation, no cause of death, no questions from the press, just silence, deafening silence.

 John Wheeler was clearly, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Nothing is said of Wheelers career, a high profile Vietnam veteran, a man much admired, even loved.  Work, bio-chem warfare, nuclear programs, now totally blacked out.  All that remains is a moment or two of video, very inexplicable, Wheeler, the consummate disciplined professional drifting in what seems to be an LSD induced haze. 

There, the curtain was drawn, the door was closed, no further cover story, no prepared lie, the “imagineers” responsible for such things caught off balance, this time at least.

Wheeler was also a “contractor,” part of the army of private citizens that now control everything that the Department of Homeland Security does not.  We call this “privatization.”

“Forces well outside any political system envisioned by the Founding Fathers control America, forces capable of side-stepping or overruling any elected official or any law, up to and including, even especially, the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Editor’s Note: Since the end of World War Two, the U.S. government has supported many foreign states that could rightly be called “fascist,” especially regimes in Latin America including some that harbored old-time Nazis from Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

But “fascism” has remained a carefully avoided “f-word” in discussing the nature of the U.S. political system, despite troubling new tendencies toward right-wing extremism, bullying tactics, corporate buying of politics, and acts of violence, a concern addressed by Danny Schechter in this guest essay:

Fascism is one of those words that sounds like it belongs in the past, conjuring up, as it does, marching jack boots in the streets, charismatic demagogues like Italy’s Mussolini or Spain’s Franco and armed crackdowns on dissent and freedom of expression.

It is a term we are used to reading in histories about World War Two – not in news stories from present-day America. And yet the word, along with the dark reality behind it, is creeping into popular contemporary usage.
Radical activists on the Left have never been hesitant to label their opponents with this “f-word” whenever governments support laws that limit opposition or overdo national security or abuse human rights. Government paranoia turns critics paranoid.

One example: writer Naomi Wolf forecast fascism creeping into America during the Bush years accelerated by the erosion of democracy, writing:

“It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here.”

Wolf feared Americans couldn’t see the warning signs:

“Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations.

“Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognize the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled.
“Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of ‘homeland’ security - remember who else was keen on the word ‘homeland’ - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.”

Now, those bells are now being rung by John Hall, an outgoing Democratic congressman from upstate New York. His fear of fascism has less to do with repressive laws and militarism than the influx of corporate money into politics, swamping it with special interests that buy influence for right-wing policies and politicians.

"I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism," he told the New York Observer. "So that's really the question – is that the destination if this court decision goes unchecked?"

Hall was referring to Citizens United, last year’s Supreme Court ruling that permitted greater corporate spending in the midterm elections, much of it anonymous.

After the decision, Democrats tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would have mandated that corporate donors identify themselves in their advertising, but Republicans opposed the measure and it was blocked. 

Ads from groups that were reliant on these anonymous donors were found to be particularly prone to misleading or false claims.

"The country was bought," Hall said. "The extremist, most recent two appointees to the Supreme Court, who claimed in their confirmation hearings before the Senate that they would not be activist judges, made a very activist decision in that it overturned more than a century of precedent. And as a result there were millions of extra dollars thrown into this race."

Many in mainstream politics who understand that big money can dominate elections although not in every case share Hall’s fears. In California, two well-known female candidates from the corporate world raised millions but still went down in defeat.

So money alone is not the be-all-and-end-all of a shift towards a red-white-and-blue brand of fascism. Other ingredients are needed and some may be on the way — like an economic collapse, defeat in foreign wars, rise in domestic terrorism and the emergence of a right-wing populist movement that puts order before justice and wants to crush its opponents.

Some argue we have just such a movement in the Tea Party although other critics focus on the rise of the Christian Right that promotes fundamentalist politics in the name of God.

The Tea Party is not just after Democrats; it has started a campaign against the liberal Methodist Church. It is not internally democratic either with no elected officers or set of by-laws. It seems to be managed and manipulated by shadowy political operatives and PR firms, financed by a few billionaires who support populism to defang it.

Already militias are forming because of fears of immigration, and there is also concern that if unemployment remains high there is likely to be more violence with police forces understaffed because of government cutbacks. Gun sales went up after the recent violent incidents in Arizona.

The erosion of economic stability with the rise of foreclosures and the shredding of social services is already turning a financial crisis into a social one.

We already have sharp partisan divide and inflation of hateful rhetoric with vicious putdowns of the President and condemnations by members of Congress calling him corrupt, even a traitor.

According to a set of typical characteristics of fascist nations, there is “a disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of ‘need.’ The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

“In place of human rights, enemies are turned into scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists.”

This process is already far along in the USA.

Among the classical characteristics of fascism is a shutting down of debate and a focus on the state — which in our country is controlled by lobbyists and private interests. Wall Street and the military-industrial complex have far more clout than elected officials.

In the past, during the Depression, for example, there was a plot to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was exposed and neutered. Could something like that happen again? 

Maybe it doesn’t have to, what with hawks already in control of Congress, major media outlets, the military and poised to slash the power of unions and curb progressive social programs including public education.

Several writers believe that if and when fascism comes to America it will be packaged in a friendly form tied to beneficial advertising slogans and public interest messaging. It will be sold, 1984-style, as being unavoidable, even cool, and in our best interest.

Louisiana Sen. Huey Long, a mesmerizing agitator, once said, "Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.”

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs on His latest film, “Plunder The Crime of Our Time,” treats the financial crisis as a crime story. Comments to

Originally published January 12, 2011 at 6:17 p.m., updated January 12, 2011 at 7:33 p.m.

Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III's murder case has been returned to a lower court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has ruled in favor of the Navy Department and ordered a lower court to reconsider the case of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, a Camp Pendleton Marine at the center of a major war crimes case.

Hutchins, a former infantry squad leader convicted of murdering an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamdaniya in 2006, had served four years of an 11-year sentence before he was released in June on appeal.

Prosecutors had accused Hutchins of being the ringleader of seven other troops in a plot to kidnap and kill the 52-year-old Iraqi man, then staging the scene to make it look as if the victim had been planting roadside bombs.
The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals had ruled that Hutchins was not given a fair trial because his lead defense lawyer left the case shortly before his 2007 trial.

Hutchins declined to comment Wednesday, as did his attorney, Maj. Babu Kaza, while they file a motion asking the court to reconsider Tuesday’s ruling.
In a statement sent to friends and family, Hutchins said his life is in turmoil but the last eight months since he was released from confinement had been a blessing and a chance to reconnect with his wife and young daughter.

“To all of you who have stood beside me throughout all of this you have my deepest regards and thanks. The important thing right now is to keep hope alive ... Remember, as Marines we never retreat; we never surrender.”

Don Greenlaw, 82, of Oceanside, said as a Marine combat veteran who sat through Hutchins’ trial, he feels the Marine was the victim of “political hogwash” in the wake of the Army’s Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

“Anytime you are in combat you are told you will go out when you are on patrol and you will hunt them down and kill them. If you don’t, they will hunt you down and kill you,” Greenlaw said.

“War is war. They didn’t do anything wrong.”; (619) 293-1293


{col. writ. 1/2/11] (c) '11 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Among the maniac right, calls have come for the assassination of Julian Assange, of Wikileaks fame. Some have called for his quick arrest, prosecution and conviction for alleged violations of U.S. anti spying laws (despite the fact that he's not a U.S. citizen.)

Although the din may've died down somewhat, U.S. government officials are livid with the Australian, with some issuing dark and foreboding threats.

if Wikileaks is guilty of anything, it's failing to abide by the unwritten rules of the corporate press, that of keeping state secrets secret.

The catcalls for Assange's prosecution are startling given the seas of silence on the prosecution of U.S. government officials for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the war itself was a brazen violation of international law, for it violated both the letter and spirit of the U.N. Charter which forbids member states from staging unprovoked attacks on other countries. Thus, the war was a war crime!

This, even if the U.S. didn't torture people, kill civilians, destroy historic sites (such as Babylon -- one of the world's first cities!), and shatter nations on false pretenses.

Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve, said recently what millions already knew: "The Iraq War is largely about oil."*

And yet, former President George W. Bush and his entire Cabinet are not facing war crime charges, as if the UN has an idiocy exception to violating International law ('Oops! No WMD's! My bad!')

Millions have been hurled into exile, the nation is carved into ethnic ghettos, hundreds of thousands (a conservative estimate!) are dead, and the infrastructure has been bombed to hell -- and there are no violations of International law?

Apparently not. For the aggrieved were just Arabs.

Former Economics Professor, Edward R. Herman and journalist/researcher, David Peterson, in their 2010 book, The Politics of Genocide, noted how International law practitioners have ignored violations by --shall we say? -- certain powers:

Just as the guardians of "International Justice" have yet to find a single crime committed by a Great White-Northern Power against people of color that crosses their threshold of gravity, so too all of the fine talk about the "responsibility to protect" and the "end of impunity" has never once been extended to the victims of these same powers no matter how egregious the crimes.

The Western establishment rushed to proclaim "genocide" in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Darfur, and also agitated for tribunals to hold the alleged perpetrators accountable. In contrast, its silence over the crimes committed by its own regimes against the peoples of Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and Sub Saharan Africa is deafening.

*{sources: Greenspan, A., The Age of Turbulence (NY,: Penguin, 2007), p.464; Herman, e. & D. Peterson, The Politics of Genocide (NY: Monthly Review Press, 2010, p.112.)

Beginning this afternoon, shortly after (former) president Ben Ali fled Tunisia, I started getting calls about the effect of social media on the Tunisian uprising. I answered a few questions, mostly deferring reporters to friends in Tunisia for their side of the story, and then settled in for the night…only to find rantings and ravings about Tunisia’s “Twitter revolution” and “WikiLeaks revolution” blowing up the airwaves.

Like Alaa Abd El Fattah, I think it’s too soon to tell what the true impact of social media was on the events of the past few weeks. I also think it’s a bit irresponsible of Western analysts to start pontificating on the relevance of social media to the Tunisian uprising without talking to Tunisians (there are notable exceptions; Ethan Zuckerman’s piece for Foreign Policy is spot on, Matthew Ingram does a nice job of opening the debate here, and Evgeny Morozov’s analysis–which starts with this great piece–is ongoing).
But for each thoughtful, skeptical piece, there is yet another claiming the unknowable. In this piece, for example, Elizabeth Dickinson of Foreign Policy writes:

Of course, Tunisians didn’t need anyone to tell them [about the excesses of the first family]. But the details noted in the cables — for example, the fact that the first lady may have made massive profits off a private school — stirred things up.

By all Tunisian accounts, WikiLeaks had little–if anything–to do with the protests; rather, the protests were spurred by unemployment and economic woes.  Furthermore, Tunisians have been documenting abuses by the Ben Ali regime and the first family for years, as Zuckerman notes.  In fact,  Dickinson seems to realize this herself, and yet for some reason still attempts to argue that WikiLeaks was a catalyst in the unrest.

Andrew Sullivan, who praised Dickinson’s piece, seems to have decided for himself that social media was used as a tool for organizing:

The core test is whether Twitter and online activism helped organize protests. It appears they did, even through government censorship. Wikileaks also clearly helped. So did al Jazeera, for those who see it entirely as an Islamist front.

I’m not sure by what means such an idea appeared to Sullivan, but I haven’t heard it said yet–not once–by a Tunisian.  Until I do, I’ll remain skeptical (though Sullivan’s praise of Al Jazeera is welcome).


The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights have all been discarded or abridged in the rush to make it easier to investigate, torture, and jail both foreigners and American citizens.

The record of the America’s law making body Congress and its judiciary since 9/11 has been nothing short of pathetic.  The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 might well be described as one of history’s more spectacular euphemisms employed to gut a constitution, somewhat akin to Hitler’s “emergency act” in the wake of the Reichstag fire of 1933.

It is better known as the Patriot Act I.  Patriot Act I became law six weeks after the fall of the twin towers and was followed by the the Patriot Act II of 2006, the two laws together diminishing constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property. The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights have all been discarded or abridged in the rush to make it easier to investigate, torture, and jail both foreigners and American citizens.

The Patriot Act also incorporates the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of October 17th, 2001, which permits the freezing of assets and investigation of individuals suspected of being financial supporters of terrorism. “Suspected” is the key word, as there is no oversight or appeal to the process.

The Military Commission Act of 2006 followed the Patriot Acts, creating military tribunals for the trying of “unlawful enemy combatants,” including American citizens. Unlike a civil or criminal court, the accused needs only a two-thirds vote by the commission members present to be convicted. The act permits the indefinite jailing of suspects in a military prison without providing access to a lawyer or charging with a crime.

The government is not required to produce any normally admissible evidence at a commission hearing and can rely on hearsay or even on information obtained overseas during torture to make its case.

 Detainees do not have access to any classified information being used against them and cannot cross examine or even know the identity of witnesses. The MCA suspends habeas corpus for anyone charged and forbids the application of the Geneva Conventions to mitigate conditions of confinement or to challenge the judicial process or verdict.

The Geneva Conventions also cannot be invoked if the accused subsequently claims he was tortured or otherwise abused, protecting overly zealous interrogators from later charges of “war crimes.” The act was also designed to cover all cases that were pending, meaning that it was retroactive.

More recently, the United States Attorney General has indicated that he will not prosecute government officials who committed torture under the Bush Administration in spite of Washington being a signatory to international treaties condemning the practice. 

The Obama Administration has also declared that it has the right to kill any American citizen anywhere in the world if it suspects that person is involved in supporting terrorism. The sole due process required to carry out the execution is review of a secret dossier by a government lawyer. 

The assassination, inevitably in a country with which the US is not at war since Washington is not legally at war with anyone, is carried out by a hellfire missile fired from a drone.  If the target’s family is traveling with him, that is regarded as unavoidable collateral damage.

And the new judicial world order has been given its own defense mechanisms to make it bulletproof.  Challenges to illegal incarceration or denial of constitutional rights are routinely rejected by the courts, concurring with Administration claims of state secrecy to keep both whistleblowers and those detained out of the legal system. 

 Today, someone can be accused of terrorism support after sending $5 to a charity.  American Muslims who voice their discontent over the internet or phone regarding heavy handed FBI tactics can themselves be targeted, frequently encountering a new friend in the form of a government informant and eventually being talked into committing a “terrorist act.” Their new friend gives them a fake bomb or unusable weapon and they are then arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

The sorry state of American jurisprudence and vanishing liberties under Bush-Obama would rather suggest that the pot not be calling the kettle black, but, alas, the pumped-up-by-hubris elected and appointed leaders in Washington do not know the meaning of the expression “shut up.” 

 One would think they might be less tone deaf at a time when they are seeking a phony legal formula to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but that would suppose that someone in the federal bureaucracy actually knows what he is doing.

The latest case of foot in mouth involves Russia.  The US media has been reporting critically on the recent conviction in Moscow of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.  Khodorkovsky had earlier been convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2005 and has been in jail ever since. 

The conviction prompted commentary from no less than Hillary Clinton who said it “raises serious questions about selective prosecution – and the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations” while the White House saw “…due process violations and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends.”  In some accounts there are suggestions that the Administration will block Russian entry into the World Trade Organization to punish Moscow for its failure to establish an “independent judiciary” and a “rule of law.”

Now excuse me, one might well ask why the Clintons and Obamas of this world feel themselves empowered to criticize legal procedures in another country involving a citizen of that country while failing to protect actual American citizens like Rachel Corrie, but it is quite likely a question not worth exploring.  If there is some net gain attainable by antagonizing Russia unnecessarily it is difficult to determine what exactly that might be. 

The Clinton/Obama comments also reveal a profound level of ignorance about recent history.  Russia was looted by the so-called oligarchs in the 1990s and Hillary Clinton should be asking how it was that Mikhail Khodorkovsky became one of the richest men in the world in little more than ten years, starting as a salesman for used computer parts. 

His business acumen must have been truly remarkable, but he also received more than a little well documented assistance from international organized crime.  The fact is that Khodorkovsky is guilty of all charges and possibly some others to include torture, criminal conspiracy, and homicide and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he stole upwards of $15 billion from the Russian people. 

If Clinton and Obama had bothered to check they almost certainly would have discovered a file on Khodorkovsky’s activities about a foot thick at the FBI offices on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s move to hold the oligarchs accountable for their crimes, which included multiple murders in addition to massive corruption and fraud, is extremely popular and so it should be.  Most oligarchs have fled to Western Europe or to Israel to avoid prosecution.

So why the sympathy in the media and within government circles for the oligarchs? 

Well, it is the usual nonsense.  Hardliners in Washington, many of whom are our good old friendly neocons, need an enemy and Russia was available.  Some have also cleverly woven into their narrative the theme of anti-Semitism, always available when all else fails. 

The fact is that most oligarchs and their enablers from the West who looted Russia were Jewish and a number were Israeli citizens.  But they were also criminals.  The two facts are not necessarily congruent, but if apologists for Khodorkovsky can twist reality to make it look as if someone is planning a pogrom, so much the better. 

What we are seeing is the usual neocon narrative:  come up with a viable enemy to justify those huge defense budgets and label him an anti-Semite to make the story even more compelling.

Ironically, Hillary Clinton’s own State Department, which interviewed an international observer at the trial, reported that the legal proceedings seemed to be fair. 

Russian courts are not US courts but that might actually be an advantage given what we Americans have seen lately.  In one respect at least their judicial system has to be regarded as better:  they no longer have gulags while we Americans have offshore and secret prisons in Guantanamo and elsewhere. 

But the real question has to be, why are we again interfering in something that we only dimly understand when we just might leave it alone?  Who named us the Lord High Executioner for the entire world? 

It is the ultimate tragedy, what the Greeks would call nemesis, that a nation that once prided itself as a shining city on the hill or as “indispensable” can now be summed up with another word.  That word is “rogue.”

This article was originally published in

The Political Prisoners of Guantánamo

Political prisoners? Surely that can’t be right, can it? Surely it’s only dictatorships in far-flung corners of the world who hold political prisoners, and not the United States of America?

Sadly, no. As the “War on Terror” prison established by President Bush begins its tenth year of operations, and as it begins to be forgotten that President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order promising to close the prison within a year, but failed spectacularly to do so, the bleak truth is that, for a majority of the 173 men held at Guantánamo, their chances of being released, or of receiving anything resembling justice, have receded to such an extent in the last two years that most face indefinite detention without charge or trial, and may still be in Guantánamo a year from now, two years from now, or even five, ten or twenty years from now.

The key to understanding how we reached this grim impasse two years into Barack Obama’s presidency is the review of all the prisoners’ cases that was conducted by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, a sober and careful collection of 60 career officials and lawyers from various government departments and the intelligence agencies, who reviewed all the cases throughout 2009, and issued recommendations a year ago regarding the “disposition” of the remaining prisoners.

Although the Task Force’s appraisal was infected with credulity regarding the quality of the Bush administration’s supposed evidence against the men (which is largely unreliable, as it was extracted under duress and torture), and the members were desperate not to make any mistakes by releasing men who might then prove to be dangerous, the Task Force nevertheless cleared 89 of the remaining 173 prisoners for release.

That’s an impressive figure, considering that it is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media that the government itself has conceded that it no longer wishes to hold over half of the remaining prisoners, but, a year after the Task Force issued its report, these men are still held, and it is this failure — and the explanations provided for it — that lead me to conclude that it is appropriate to describe them as political prisoners.

Of the 89 men, 58 are Yemenis, part of the largest national group at Guantánamo, consisting of 89 men in total. Just 23 Yemenis have been freed throughout Guantánamo’s long history, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because the Saudis, held in similar numbers but largely released in 2006 and 2007, had a government which is a closer ally of the US than Yemen, was prepared to argue more aggressively on their behalf, and was also able to create a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center to re-educate the men on their return, and to provide them with support and financial assistance to reintegrate into Saudi society.

Nevertheless, the Task Force approved 58 of the Yemenis for release (or, to use the careful language of lawyers, approved them for transfer). There was, however, a caveat. 28 were approved for immediate release, but 30 others were designated in a special category of their own, who “should not be transferred to Yemen in the near future,” and should be held in “conditional” detention — a novel category of detention — until “the security situation improves.”

While it could be argued that the “conditional” detention of these 30 men made them political prisoners a year ago, developments on Christmas Day 2009 ensured that the other 28 cleared Yemenis would also be held as political prisoners as well. The trigger for the administration’s refusal to honor the Task Force’s findings regarding these 28 men was the failed plane bomb plot of a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. When it was discovered that he had been recruited in Yemen, President Obama capitulated to a wave of unprincipled hysteria by announcing a moratorium on the release of any more Yemenis from Guantánamo, a moratorium which still stands a year later, which shows no sign of being abandoned, and which, by subjecting the men in question to collective punishment, or guilt by nationality, ensures that all 58 of the cleared Yemenis can legitimately be regarded as political prisoners.

The other 31 men cleared for release by the Task Force are still held because, for the most part, they cannot be repatriated as they would face torture or other ill-treatment in their home countries, which include China, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. To its credit, the Obama administration has found new homes in 15 countries for 36 prisoners in a similar situation, but as the pool of willing countries dwindles, it will become harder for the US government to refute allegations that they too are political prisoners, held only because the country responsible for unjustly detaining them in the first place — the United States — has refused to accept its own responsibility to offer them new homes, resisting calls to do so — by a District Court judge, and by White House Counsel Greg Craig — in the Justice Department, in the D.C. Circuit Court, in Congress, and in the Oval Office.

Of the other men, 33 were recommended for trials by the Task Force, but the administration has backed away from proposals to try them in federal court, because of opposition by Congress, or in the Military Commission trial system at Guantánamo, because of opposition from liberals and progressives.

I have no sympathy for the administration’s problems with the discredited Commissions, which should never have been revived after Bush left office, especially because the lowest point in their tawdry history was reached in October last year, when the former child soldier Omar Khadr accepted a plea deal in which he confessed to “war crimes” invented by Congress. These purported to criminalize his participation in a firefight with US soldiers in Afghanistan that led to his capture in July 2002, but the plea deal was met with such disdain around the world that the Obama administration is apparently unwilling to proceed with any further trials at Guantánamo.

Compounding this problem is the administration’s refusal to press ahead with the federal court trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder in November 2009. By failing to proceed with this plan, the administration allowed critics in Congress the opportunity to include a provision banning the transfer of any Guantánamo prisoner to the US mainland to face a trial in a military spending bill passed before Christmas, and when, this week, the President refused to veto the bill, or to issue a signing statement disagreeing with it, the 33 men proposed for trials have been consigned instead to indefinite detention without charge or trial, meaning that they too can realistically be regarded as political prisoners.

The last group of prisoners (leaving aside the three who are held because they lost their trial by Military Commission, or accepted a plea deal) are 48 men explicitly recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial by the Task Force, on the basis that they are too dangerous to release, but that the information used to justify their detention would not stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.

I should hardly need to explain that this recommendation by the Task Force is fundamentally unacceptable, not only because it perpetuates the very system of arbitrary detention initiated by the Bush administration, which was deliberately designed to subvert domestic and international laws and treaties, but also because, if the government’s supposed evidence would not stand up in a court of law, then it is not evidence at all, but rather hearsay and unverifiable information contained in intelligence reports, which is fundamentally tainted by the torture and abuse to which prisoners were subjected.

The proposal also sidelines the District Court in Washington D.C., where the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions are ongoing, and where 57 cases have been decided to date, with 38 won by the prisoners. In many of these 38 cases, the judges have exposed exactly these kinds of problems with the government’s supposed evidence. In addition, in the majority of the 19 cases won by the government, the men who have lost their petitions, and who, in all probability, are amongst the 48 men designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial, are nothing more than foot soldiers for the Taliban in the military conflict with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, which morphed into a “War on Terror” after the US-led invasion in October 2001.

If anything, these men should be held as prisoners of war, not held up as some sort of terrorists, but on this problem, the executive, Congress and the judiciary are all silent, even though it reveals a fundamental problem with the entire detention system invented under George W. Bush and maintained under Obama.

The legislation that supposedly justifies the prisoners’ detention is the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks, which authorized the President “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

President Obama continues to rely on the AUMF, even though it fails to distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and even though it perpetuates the Bush administration’s ruinous notion that, instead of criminal suspects and prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, there is a third category of prisoner — what Bush called “enemy combatants,” and what Obama calls “alien unprivileged enemy belligerents,” as in the case of Omar Khadr — when this, clearly, should not be accepted at all. In Obama’s determination to continue with this dark folly, administration officials recently announced that the President is close to signing an executive order formalizing the indefinite detention of these 48 men, but providing them with some sort of regular review process to ascertain whether they can be released.

This sounds better than no review process at all, but the truth is that these 48 men are also political prisoners, held as a result of the administration’s refusal to accept that, if soldiers are to be detained, it should be as prisoners of war, and that, if men are suspected of terrorist activities, they should be tried rather than arbitrarily detained forever.

Until these problems are solved, and the Guantánamo prisoners are either tried or released, President Obama’s contribution to this bitter legacy of the Bush administration is to be presiding over the unthinkable: a prison where, however the prisoners have been designated, they are almost all held in indefinite detention, and are, indeed, political prisoners.

It is time for those who believe in justice to call for this miserable situation to be brought to an end.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). 

Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Truthout.

A Spanish judge says man was a guard at a concentration camp where 60 Spaniards died…

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish court is requesting an arrest warrant for alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk.

In a ruling dated January 7 but released Friday, Spanish Judge Ismael Moreno Chamarro said Demjanjuk is accused of being "an accomplice to the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity."

The indictment said more than 150 Spaniards were imprisoned at the Flossenburg concentration camp, where Demjanjuk allegedly was a guard. Sixty of them died, according to evidence cited in the judge's ruling.

The ruling orders that a European arrest warrant be issued for Demjanjuk, who is currently on trial in Germany on charges of being an accessory to thousands of murders during World War II. He was extradited there from the United States in 2009.

Demjanjuk lost a U.S. Supreme Court case against his deportation. His lawyers had asked the high court to consider their claims that he was too ill and frail to be sent overseas. They also raised human rights and other legal issues.

In the German trial, his defense attorney there has argued that the court was imposing a "moral and judicial double standard."

The retired auto worker from Cleveland, Ohio -- a native Ukrainian -- was a prisoner of war during the conflict, and would have been killed had he not done what the Nazis ordered, the defense team argued in 2009.

The Munich state prosecutor brought the charges against Demjanjuk for his alleged role at the Sobibor death camp in Poland, where the Nazis and their accessories killed at least 167,000 people, according to the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Relatives of victims have joined the prosecution's case in Germany.

The accusations against Demjanjuk date to the late 1970s, when the U.S. Justice Department accused him of being a Nazi guard known as "Ivan the Terrible." His U.S. citizenship was revoked in 1981, and he was extradited to Israel in 1986.

Demjanjuk was convicted in an Israeli court in 1988 and sentenced to death, but that conviction was overturned in 1993 amid evidence that someone else was "Ivan the Terrible."

A federal court restored Demjanjuk's citizenship, ruling the government withheld evidence supporting his case.

But his citizenship was revoked again in 2002 after a federal judge ruled his 1952 entry into the United States was illegal because he hid his past as a Nazi guard.

More instances of Leftist hate speech
On his national radio show in 2009, however, Schultz wished for Dick Cheney's death: “He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country....Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you? ...

An editorial in Monday’s New York Times justified the focus on conservatives: “It is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.” But while the liberal media indict Palin and other conservatives, there’s a long list of vicious rhetoric coming from media liberals.

MSNBC has been the most venomous, a fact NBC has glossed over in its coverage castigating conservatives. The network’s 8pm ET host Keith Olbermann in 2009 referred to columnist Michelle Malkin as “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Hardball’s Chris Matthews fantasized about the death of Rush Limbaugh: “Somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp.”

The outrage evidenced this week was not to be found when a film festival showed “Death of a President,” a movie depicting the imagined assassination of President Bush. “Poor taste or, as some say, thought-provoking?” MSNBC daytime anchor Amy Robach mildly wondered on September 1, 2006.

On Monday’s The Ed Show, MSNBC’s 6pm ET host Ed Schultz pointed his finger at Fox News for supposedly inciting its audience to “think that doing something radical is the right thing to do,” but sidestepped his own history of shocking comments. “I get passionate, but not in a violent way,” Schultz insisted.

On his national radio show in 2009, however, Schultz wished for Dick Cheney’s death: “He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country....Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you?” (MP3 audio) In 2010, Schultz screamed that “Dick Cheney’s heart’s a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him!” (MP3 audio)

Other left-wing radio hosts have openly desired the death of leading conservatives without a peep from the liberal media elites. Radio host Mike Malloy (a onetime news writer for CNN) wished for Rush Limbaugh’s demise on January 4, 2010, a few days after the conservative host was hospitalized for chest pains: “I’m waiting for the day when I pick it up, pick up a newspaper or click on the Internet and find out he’s choked to death on his own throat fat or a great big wad of saliva or something, you know, whatever. Go away, Rush, you make me sick!” (MP3 audio)

In 2009, then-Air America radio host Montel Williams urged Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to kill herself: “Slit your wrist! Go ahead! I mean, you know, why not? I mean, if you want to — or, you know, do us all a better thing. Move that knife up about two feet. I mean, start right at the collarbone.” (MP3 audio)

If Bachmann had been the Congresswoman attacked this weekend instead of Giffords, would the media be as strong in their attacks of the overheated rhetoric lobbed against her over the past several years?

HBO’s Bill Maher, a favorite guest on CNN and other supposedly respectable news networks, wished for the deaths of both Limbaugh and Cheney. Talking about the then-Vice President in 2007, after al Qaeda exploded a truck bomb at a base in Afghanistan near where Cheney was visiting, Maher argued: “I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.”

In 2008, Maher morbidly suggested Limbaugh would have been a better candidate to have died from a drug overdose: “Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?”

Among the claims this week is that anti-government rhetoric is putting public servants in peril. If such a dubious claim is true, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann was jeopardizing lives when he teed off against the government’s anti-terrorism policies in 2006: “We now face what our ancestors faced at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.”

Media gadfly Arianna Huffington made her own plea for civility, telling the Washington Post via e-mail this weekend that “there are lots of ways to be lively and put forth a strong opinion without demonizing one’s opponent....It’s the demonization that is the problem.”

But her Huffington Post blog site has demonized conservatives for years, including an item posted in early 2007 mocking the cancer that would eventually take the life of White House press secretary Tony Snow. Sneered San Francisco radio host Charles Karel Bouley: “I hear about Tony Snow and say to myself, well, stand up every day, lie to the American people at the behest of your dictator-esque boss and well, how could a cancer NOT grow in you. Work for Fox News, spinning the truth in to a billion knots and how can your gut not rot?”

The Left has been trying for years to shut down conservative radio and otherwise criminalize conservative speech. Using this tragedy to further that agenda is beyond cynical, and probably counterproductive: a new CBS News poll finds that even after a weekend of anti-conservative propaganda, 57% don’t think “harsh political rhetoric” had anything to do with the shootings.

But if the media insist on having a debate about political speech, they need to focus on the Left’s vileness as well. Otherwise, they’re just partisan hypocrites joining in the exploitation of tragedy for political gain.

The Violence of Deformed Christianity
Christianity, which twisted Jesus's message of peace into justifications for killing, shares blame for Tucson, says Rev. Howard Bess. January 14, 2011

Is Obama Right to Quiet Debate?
President Obama tamped down anger over the Tucson massacre, but is he just postponing a crisis, asks Lawrence Davidson. January 13, 2011

Palin Depicts Herself as Tucson Victim
Stung by criticism of her incendiary rhetoric, Sarah Palin now sees herself as a victim of the Tucson massacre, notes Robert Parry. January 12, 2011

Finding a Path Out of Afghanistan
As the Afghan War drags on, Ivan Eland outlines some difficult choices that U.S. policymakers must finally consider. January 12, 2011

Parry on Rhetoric and WikiLeaks
Journalist Robert Parry discusses the state of American political discourse and the WikiLeaks dispute on Mike Levine's "The Expert Witness Show."

Another Betrayal of Helen Thomas
Under pressure from neocons, a journalism society weighs betrayal of famed reporter Helen Thomas, notes Danny Schechter. January 11, 2011

How WikiLeaks Unhinged Washington
In reaction to WikiLeaks, Official Washington plans to ferret out grumpy federal workers, report Linda Lewis and Coleen Rowley. January 11, 2011

Rep. King's Show Trial for Muslims
Rep. Peter King, the Republican overseeing homeland security, plans a show trial for U.S. Muslims, says Lawrence Davidson. January 11, 2011

The Lingering Stain of Guantanamo
Ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern reflects on the words of the prophet Isaiah as the Guantanamo prison camp enters its 10th year. January 11, 2011

Dangerous Right-Wing 'Victimhood'
The Tucson shooting reminds us of the danger to democracy when the Right exaggerates its "victimhood," writes Robert Parry. January 10, 2011

Sarah Palin's Belated Remorse
Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hastily pulled her map putting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the crosshairs, notes Dennis Bernstein. January 10, 2011

The Right's Talkers Shift the Blame
The right-wing hate talkers try to flip the blame for the slaughter in Tucson onto their critics, reports Rory O'Connor. January 10, 2011

How Hate Speech Shapes the Right
After flooding U.S. politics with hateful rhetoric, the Right recoils at blame for the Tucson massacre, observes Michael Winship. January 10, 2011

The Coming Christian Divide
The "emergent" Christian church challenges old orthodoxies while trying to revive Jesus's humble teachings, says Rev. Howard Bess. January 8, 2011

The Power of False Narrative
The House's reading of an edited Constitution is another step in building a powerful false narrative for America, writes Robert Parry. January 7, 2011

Justice Scalia's 'Originalist' Hypocrisy
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia revealed the core hypocrisy of the Right's constitutional "originalism," says Robert Parry. January 5, 2011

Republicans Aim Info-War at Obama
Re-using their old get-Clinton playbook, Republicans ready investigations aimed at sinking President Obama, writes Robert Parry. January 4, 2011

Should US Extend Nuclear Umbrella?
U.S. war hawks are at it again, pushing for extension of the U.S. nuclear umbrella into the unstable Middle East, warns Ivan Eland. January 4, 2011

Obama Should Read WikiLeaks Docs
Before re-upping his Afghan strategy, President Obama might first read WikiLeaks' evidence on the folly, advises Ray McGovern. January 3, 2011

The Danger of Pro-Israel Extremism
The hasty demonizing of Israeli critics as "anti-Semites" has hurt hopes for peace in the Middle East, writes Lawrence Davidson. January 2, 2011

Birth of Pakistan's Islamic Extremism
While helping the CIA fight Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pakistan adopted Islamic extremism, notes Alvaro Vargas Llosa. December 31, 2010

A Zoo of Our Own Making
In a barren landscape for politics and culture, Phil Rockstroh asks why Americans "will kill for empire and a parking space." December 31, 2010

The Coming War over the Constitution
The Tea Party claims to both revere the Constitution and want to rip it up, a new test for American sanity, says Robert Parry. December 30, 2010

The US Media Hit on Helen Thomas
After an off-hand blast at Israel, journalistic icon Helen Thomas became a pariah with her colleagues, notes Danny Schechter. December 29, 2010

Hungary's Embrace of Propaganda
After a right-wing victory, Hungary embarks on a familiar path toward nationalistic propaganda, observes Abby Martin. December 29, 2010

Obama's Fear of the Reagan Narrative
President Obama says he's stymied by Ronald Reagan's three-decade-old anti-government narrative, writes Robert Parry. December 28, 2010

Trying More Carrots with Iran
The Obama administration's strategy of confrontation with Iran carries more risks than benefits, asserts Ivan Eland. December 28, 2010

America's Slide toward Totalitarianism
The erosion of American liberties from the "war on terror" continues to weaken the pillars of the Republic, warns Abby Martin. December 27, 2010

America's Dangerous Self-Deceptions
The United States has built a self-deluding narrative which the world increasingly rejects, observes Lawrence Davidson. December 27, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Fight for Privacy
US government officials protest violation of their privacy by WilkiLeaks, but don't mind spying on Americans, notes Nat Parry. December 23, 2010

Is Barack Obama the Problem?
Many on the Left see Barack Obama as a conciliator when they wanted a fighter, but is it all Obama's fault, asks Robert Parry. December 22, 2010

Replacing 'They Decade' with Can-Do
After a decade of the powers-that-be doing as they wished, it's time for Americans to revive democracy, says Mort Rosenblum. December 21, 2010

US Anti-War Resistance on the Rise
The WikiLeaks case and a White House protest mark the start of a new era of anti-war resistance, believes Kevin Zeese. December 21, 2010

Thoughts at the White House Fence
Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reflects on the moral demands that led him to protest the Afghan War at the White House fence. December 20, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Secrets that Deceive
The WikiLeaks case underscores how government secrecy can be used to trick the public into wars, writes Danny Schechter. December 20, 2010

What Christmas Owes to Abolitionists
Many endearing features of American-style Christmas were rooted in the early Abolitionist movement, recalls William Loren Katz. December 19, 2010

Barack Obama's Lost Principles
President Obama is acting as if principles are a disqualification for leading the United States, observes Lawrence Davidson. December 18, 2010

Losing Afghan Hearts and Minds
Gen. Petraeus's strategy of blowing up Afghan homes to avoid IEDs is alienating the Pashtun region, reports Gareth Porter. December 18, 2010

Curiosities Abound in Assange Case
The legal case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken some strange turns, John Pilger tells Dennis Bernstein. December 18, 2010

Hitler's Shadow Reaches toward Today
New documents flesh out how US intelligence enabled Adolf Hitler's villainy to survive and spread, writes Robert Parry. December 17, 2010

Journalists Are All Julian Assange
A US government plan to indict WikiLeaks' Julian Assange for "conspiracy" threatens investigative journalism, says Robert Parry. December 16, 2010

'Giant' Holbrooke Failed on Afghan War
Eulogies are pouring in for US 'Afghan War' envoy Richard Holbrooke, but is all this praise warranted, asks Ray McGovern. December 14, 2010

Rabbis' Decree Reveals Anti-Arab Bias
Israel's drift toward an apartheid system was underscored by a housing decree from powerful rabbis, says Lawrence Davidson. December 14, 2010

A Treasonous Christmas Eve Truce
On the first Christmas Eve of World War I, beleaguered fighters risked execution to show Christian charity, notes Gary Kohls. December 14, 2010

The War to Silence WikiLeaks
The US assault on WikiLeaks raises doubts about the nation's commitment to freedom of the press, argues Elliot D. Cohen. December 13, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Power of Truth
The WikiLeaks' disclosures offer detail and context to government actions that strengthen democracy, writes Rory O'Connor. December 13, 2010

Bush v. Gore's Dark American Decade
Ten years ago, five Republican US Supreme Court justices put the country on a path toward disaster, recalls Robert Parry. December 12, 2010

How the Right Shapes US 'Reality'
From global warming to foreign wars, the Right shapes the "reality" of many Americans, observes Lawrence Davidson. December 11, 2010

Big Media's Curious Nixon Judgment
The US news media condemns Richard Nixon's bigotry but ignores his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks, says Robert Parry. December 11, 2010

Demanding American Exceptionalism
As Republican presidential hopefuls line up, they are reviving the concept of "American exceptionalism," notes Don Monkerud. December 10, 2010

Big Media's Guilt in Gary Webb's Death
By ostracizing investigative reporter Gary Webb, major US newspapers contributed to his death, writes Robert Parry. December 9, 2010

Wall Streeters Line Up for Big Bonuses
The gravy is flowing on Wall Street even as millions of Americans face slim pickings for the holiday season, says Danny Schechter. December 9, 2010

What's Behind the War on WikiLeaks
The US government's coordinated assault on WikiLeaks is about who gets to control what the people hear, writes Ray McGovern. December 8, 2010

Who's Right? Obama or the 'Base'?
President Obama's anger with the Democratic base for attacking his tax deal has a troubling back story, notes Robert Parry. December 8, 2010

Obama Aids His Enemies on Tax Deal
By caving on tax cuts for the rich, President Obama has lost leverage for coming battles with Republicans, says Michael Winship. December 8, 2010

Getting Sensible about the Koreas
US foreign policy often ignores the self-interest of adversaries, a factor in today's crisis over North Korea, writes Ivan Eland. December 7, 2010

Killing the Goal of 'Open Diplomacy'
The US assault on WikiLeaks violates the old American priniciple favoring "open diplomacy," recalls Lawrence Davidson. December 6, 2010

How Jesus's Message Was Hijacked
Jesus was an advocate for peace and the poor, but his message was transformed after his death, writes Rev. Howard Bess. December 6, 2010

CIA Dodges Guilt for Peru Tragedy
An internal CIA report blames a shootdown of a missionary's plane in Peru on a trigger-happy operation, says Melvin A. Goodman. December 4, 2010

The US Empire Targets Iran
The WikiLeaks documents underscore the intensity of Washington's global campaign to demonize Iran, observes William Blum. December 4, 2010

The Right's Power of Media Money
In recent decades as the Right poured money into media, the Left opted for other strategies that failed, reports Robert Parry. December 2, 2010

Flush Republicans Play Hardball
Backed by money and media, the Republicans flex their political muscle against weakened Democrats, notes Michael Winship. December 2, 2010

A Full-Body Scan for the US Empire
U.S. officials are furious about the WikiLeaks breach of secrecy, but the disclosures seem like fair turnabout to Phil Rockstroh. December 2, 2010

Let's Get the Truth Out on the Bushes
Robert Parry's three-book set challenges the lies of George W. Bush's self-serving memoir -- and is on sale for only $29 per set. (Click here)

How Two Elections Changed America
Secret Republican operations around elections in 1968 and 1980 set the U.S. on today's troubled course, says Robert Parry. November 4, 2009

Resource Panel For:
 News Hounds, Dissectors
And Aggregators - Official Wikileaks Page [,,] - Secure SSL Chat Page [] - Secure Document Submission Page [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site [] - Points to Official Site []

Real mirrors on different IP Addresses - Mirror hosted in Switzerland [] - Mirror hosted in Sweden [] - Mirror hosted in the United States []

Important Wikileaks Links - Official Wikileaks Twitter Page ipv6

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