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Archive for August 7th, 2008

Afternoon Jukebox… Fly Away

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:05 PM MST

Lenny Kravitz- Fly Away

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Verdict is in on Bush-style justice: Guilty

by- SadButTrue @ 2:25 PM EDT

By accepting evidence based on torture,
military commissions betray American values

Haroon Siddiqui, The Toronto Star

Aug 07, 2008

Osama bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan was convicted at Guantánamo Bay yesterday – in his second trial at the hands of the Bush administration.

Had his first in 2004 not been interrupted by a successful appeal to the Supreme Court, he would have been acquitted. For what he has been found guilty of – providing material support to terrorism – was not then under the jurisdiction of the military tribunal that has sentenced him.

Such is justice under George W. Bush. Such is the justice that awaits Omar Khadr and 80 others to be tried by the special military tribunals at Guantánamo.

More than the detainees, though, it is the Bush administration that’s on trial. Thus the United States is on trial. There, the verdict is already in: Guilty.

Guilty of torturing detainees. Guilty of obtaining evidence from torture. Guilty of introducing hearsay evidence in trials. Guilty of hiding evidence from the detainees.

Guilty, therefore, of violating the most basic norms of the rule of law – and betraying American values.

It’s precisely because of all of the above that Bush concocted his kangaroo courts, avoiding both the civilian courts and the military courts martial, both of which would have ensured due process.

“It all stems from the administration’s decision to endorse torture,” says Jameel Jaffer, a Canadian who directs the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project. “These tribunals are the fruit of that poisonous tree.

“Once the decision was made to use torture, the administration needed a system of rules that would allow them to rely on evidence obtained from torture. Thus these military commissions.”

But what happens in these trials is almost irrelevant. The process is discredited. It is seen as illegitimate by much of the world, including a majority of Canadians and an increasing number of Americans.

As for the Muslim world, where the war against terrorism counts the most, it will engender even more fury.

When Bush opened Guantánamo in 2002 to house the prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere, he declared them to be “unlawful enemy combatants.”

He stripped them of their Geneva Convention rights and also argued that they be denied habeas corpus, the old principle that a prisoner must be brought before a court to justify his detention.

In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees did have that right. But Bush got the Republican-controlled Congress to pass the Detainee Treatment Act (2005), stripping the detainees of habeas corpus.

In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that Bush did not have the authority to set aside the Geneva Conventions when he set up his 2002 military commissions.

But Congress granted him just such authority, passing the Military Commissions Act. It essentially resurrected his military commission system, authorizing them to prosecute for terrorist crimes, including the provision on which Hamdan has now been convicted.

Bush has had two tracks going at Guantánamo: one for those charged with war crimes and another, through the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, for those who haven’t been charged and may never be.

The latter was ostensibly an alternative to habeas corpus. Except that it wasn’t. The detainees could not have legal counsel. They could not have access to evidence either.

The system was so rigged that a military member of one of the panel quit, saying the tribunals were a farce and, in some instances, fixed. (more…)

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By- Suzie-Q @ 10:30 AM MST

Israel building up strike capabilities against Iran

Think Progress- By Amanda at 12:32 pm

CBS News reports, “Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran’s atomic program, even if it can’t destroy it.” The country has also “purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year.” According to the Times of London, President Bush has given an “‘amber light‘ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties.”

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Sudhan @19:19 CET

Robert Weitzel, August 6, 2008

“People of the world — look at Berlin, where a wall came down . . . and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one” -Barak Obama

On July 24, Barak Obama stood where a 96-mile-long wall of barbed wire and concrete once separated the ideologies and lives of East and West Berlin. He told a crowd of 200,000 that “history reminds us that walls can be torn down” and that the “greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us one from another.”

He reminded the crowd that sixty years ago this summer, the Soviet Union “cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin. That [was] when . . . the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.”

American pilots nicknamed the rescue “Operation Vittles.” History knows it as the Berlin Airlift.

For the fifteen months of Operation Vittles, American C-47 and British Avro York cargo planes flew over the wall separating East and West Berlin 278,228 times, flying 92 million miles and delivering over 2,325,000 tons of food and vital supplies.

The Allies literally “flew to the sun” to save two million people.

The day before his Berlin speech, Obama stood at the 187-foot-long Western Wall that flanks the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. This wall is the closest anyone can get to the “Even ha-shetiya” (Foundation Stone), the holiest spot in Judaism and the biblical justification for the Zionist colonization of Palestine.

His presence at the wall so soon after his genuflection at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington D.C. in June assured the Israelis that their “security” would remain the number one priority of U.S. Middle East Policy.

As a C-47 flies, Obama was standing less than two miles from the 400-mile-long wall of concrete and fear and hate that divides a land and imprisons hope and makes a mockery of the democratic pretensions of Israel. On the Israeli side it is a landscaped separation barrier. On the Palestinian side it is a bleak apartheid wall. Neither barrier nor wall was mentioned by Obama . . .either day.

The walls surrounding the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have turned these areas into open-air prisons. At the whim of the Israeli government or commanding officer or private soldier, entry/exit points are closed for hours, days, weeks or months.

Palestinians seeking life-saving medical attention are denied passage to hospitals on the landscaped side. Children are born just to die in the scorched dust while their mothers wait for permission to pass—mothers die as well. Workers are denied access to jobs, farmers to fields and students to school. A season’s worth of harvest rots in trucks broiling in the hot sun. Food, medical supplies, replacement parts for a deteriorating infrastructure and the stuff of daily commerce are permitted through in a trickle much too small to sustain the nearly four million people held beyond the reach of humanity’s conscience.

Fully eighty percent of people in Gaza live on less than two dollars a day and depend on food aid for their day-to-day survival. Many parents can provide only one meal a day for themselves and their children.

Dov Weisglas, a senior Israeli government advisor, was candid, if not boastful, regarding Israel’s unconscionable policy of cutting off food and supplies to the walled areas, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” Anyone with an unblinkered view of the Zionist vision will understand Weisglas to mean, “The idea is to make their lives so intolerable that they lose hope and “choose” to go somewhere . . . anywhere . . . else.”

If ever there was a need for an airlift to breech a wall and succor a desperate people it is now. It is Palestine. Should Barak Obama become the next president of the world’s only superpower he will have an opportunity and the wherewithal to put his well-articulated Berlin vision into action. He will have an opportunity to walk his talk.

Forming a humanitarian “coalition of the willing,” President Obama can order American C-130 Hercules cargo planes, with a payload of 18 tons, to transport supplies the 360 miles from Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey to Israel. Sustaining the West Bank and Gaza Strip for fifteen months will require ferrying five million tons of food and supplies 93 million miles in 258,333 flights.

‘Amaliet Ta’am (Operation Vittles), like the Berlin Airlift, will required a “trip to the sun.” But the “trip” will send a message to Israel that the world is standing as one to demand that they tear down the walls and create a legitimate secular democracy that guarantees the civil and human rights of all its inhabitants regardless of religion or ideology.

Barak Obama is not a disinterested or ill informed or uncaring man. He knows the reality of the Palestinians’ brutally suffocating existence. But he, like all national politicians in America, has had his knees weakened by the realpolitik of Israel’s shadow government on K Street.

Hopefully, if Obama is the man he claims to be, he will change the realpolitik in America and will one day walk with strengthened knees across the sands of a true democracy in Palestine-Israel or Israel-Palestine . . . or whatever they elect to call it.

_______

Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at: robertweitzel@mac.com

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anthony @ 17:36 BST

Allen McDuffee | Raw Story | Thursday August 7, 2008

Rove said Gulf War Syndrome, vaccine political stumbling block

The Department of Defense continued its controversial mandatory anthrax vaccinations program despite high ranking Bush administration officials acknowledging there were problems with the vaccine within months of the Bush administration being in office—well before the attacks of 9/11 and the October 2001 anthrax letters.

A 2001 memorandum from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to then-Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz indicates that the White House knew of problems relating to the Gulf War Syndrome and the military’s controversial anthrax vaccine.

Obtained by RAW STORY earlier this year from a senior military official and exposed in today’s New York Daily News, “I do think we need to examine the issues of both Gulf War Syndrome and the Anthrax vaccine and how they can be dealt with,” Rove wrote. “They are political problems for us.”

RAW STORY had held off printing the memorandum (which appears below) in an effort to validate its authenticity. Along with the memo, Rove noted that he had attached “material on the Anthrax vaccine problem,” which had been forwarded to him by H. Ross Perot. He titled it “GULF WAR SYNDROME AND ANTHRAX.” (more…)

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This is Horseshit

anthony @ 12:16 BST

By CINDY SHEEHAN | Counterpunch| Wednesday, Aug 6, 2008

It is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be?

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

You know, I don’t care if it’s not proper for a Congressional candidate to say: “horseshit.” I don’t care if it is not a good “tactic” to get kicked out of a Congressional non-impeachment hearing that was just a bunch of horseshit anyway. I don’t care if I get accused of being too “extreme” for bucking the (cyst)em by doing everything form camping in a ditch in Crawford, Tx to non-violent civil disobedience to, lately, running for Congress as (oh no!) an independent.

If people can’t see how this nation is teetering on the precipice of financial ruin and dragging the rest of this planet down with us as we destroy our ecology, too…and if people don’t realize how desperate our situation is, then I must say, that’s horseshit!

I am angry. No, I am incensed that hundreds of thousands of people are dead, dying, wounded, displaced from their homes or being imprisoned and tortured by the sadists that reside or work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the approval of their accomplices down the road in Congress. I am furious that I buried my oldest son when he was 24 years old for the unrepentant lies and the unpunished crimes of the Bush mob. Are you incensed? If not, maybe you should ask yourself: “Why?” Hypothetically: “Why am I not enraged that my country has killed or hurt so many people for absolutely no noble cause in my name and with my tacit approval?” (more…)

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