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Video: Photos of US prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan released

The US Department of Defense grudgingly released 198 photographs of detainees mistreated by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2006, ... Via...

Pentagon Releases 200 Photos of Bush-Era Prisoner Abuse, Thousands Kept Secret

'What the photos that the government has suppressed would show is that abuse was so widespread that it could only have resulted from policy...

Rights group: Pentagon to release new prisoner abuse photos

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The Pentagon will release "a substantial number" of new photos that show abuse of prisoners at U.S.-run prisons in...

Pentagon records prisoner abuse by US military

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, AP WASHINGTON (AP) – Military interrogators assaulted Afghan detainees in 2003, using investigation methods they learned during self-defense training, Pentagon documents...
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Video: Voices from NYC’s Most Notorious Jail: Former Prisoners Speak Out About Abuse at...

http://democracynow.org - A new PBS documentary, "Rikers," brings you face to face with men and women who have survived incarceration at New York City's...

Voices From New York City's Most Notorious Jail: Former Prisoners Speak Out About Abuse...

A new PBS documentary, Rikers, brings you face to face with men and women who have survived incarceration at New York City's largest and...

"Dallas 6" Prisoners Face Trial for Protesting Abuse in Solitary Confinement

The Dallas 6 should not be on trial for standing up for their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment....

Video: Sam Hill: “I Was Held Prisoner At Top London Hospital To Protect...

Please Support The Show — http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

Rikers Island suppressed prisoner sex abuse complaints — advocate

Most reports of sexual abuse at New York City’s Rikers Island prison were never passed on to the police, the city’s public advocate says....

Chicago police sexually abused prisoner at ‘black site’ — report

One of the people held at the Chicago police's notorious “black site” at Homan Square claims the officers sexually abused him into agreeing to...

G4S must end its complicity in Israel’s abuse of child prisoners

As G4S management and shareholders prepare to participate in the G4S AGM on Thursday, we call on G4S management and shareholders to end the...

Guantánamo Prisoner Ahmed Rabbani Joins Legal Challenge to Force-Feeding Abuse

A father of three from Pakistan will today join historic litigation demanding that a US court of law intervene to halt prisoner abuse at...

Guantánamo Prisoner Launches Historic Legal Challenge to Force-Feeding Abuse

A gravely ill Yemeni man will today become the first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to have his claims of abuse at the military base considered...

UN raps Israeli abuse of minor prisoners

Israeli soldiers stand near Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank. (File photo)

The United Nations says the ill treatment of Palestinian minor inmates within the Israeli military detention system is "widespread, systematic and institutionalized."

The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, said in a 22-page report on Wednesday that it has examined the Tel Aviv regime’s military court system for holding Palestinian children and found evidence of "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

Some 7,000 Palestinian children, aged between 12 and 17, have been arrested, interrogated and prosecuted by Israeli forces, the report said, adding that the majority of them were boys.

"In no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights," the report stated.


UNICEF analyzed the procedure employed by Israeli forces from arrest to trial of the children. It said many children were "aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear."

Many of them faced mistreatment during the transfer process and forced to lie down on the floor of a vehicle for one day in some cases. They were also subjected to verbal or physical abuse, the report also noted.

"The interrogation mixes intimidation, threats and physical violence, with the clear purpose of forcing the child to confess," the international body said, adding they were not accompanied by a lawyer or a family member during the interrogation.

"Children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member," it said, adding that they were restrained during the questioning even for extended periods of time.

The maximum penalty for minor inmates, aged 12 to 13, is six months. However, it could be extended to 20 years for those who are over 14. The vast majority of Palestinian children have been arrested for throwing stones.

"The principal evidence against the child is the child's own confession, in most cases extracted under duress during the interrogation," the UNICEF report further said, saying they have to sign confession forms in Hebrew which they barely understand.

"Ultimately, almost all children plead guilty in order to reduce the length of their pretrial detention. Pleading guilty is the quickest way to be released. In short, the system does not allow children to defend themselves," the report concluded.

SAB/PKH/HJL

Torture at Guantanamo: Lt. Col. Stuart Couch on His Refusal to Prosecute Abused Prisoner

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today we spend the hour taking an inside look at the Guantánamo military prison, where 166 men remain locked up. Many have been held for over a decade without charge. Our first guest today was one of the first military officers assigned to prosecute prisoners at Guantánamo. Stuart Couch joined the Marines in 1987, enrolled in law school, became a military prosecutor, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He eventually left active duty but returned after the September 11th attacks. A friend of his, Michael Horrocks, died on September 11th. Horrocks was the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

AMY GOODMAN: Two months after the attacks, President Bush issued an order creating military commissions to try prisoners captured abroad. Lieutenant Colonel Couch's first assignment was the prosecution of a man named Mohamedou Ould Slahi. At one point, Slahi was described as "the highest value detainee" at Guantánamo Bay. The case would change Couch's life and put him at the center of a national debate around torture, interrogations and ethics.

Couch's story is featured in the new book, Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. It's by Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin. Later in the show, we'll be joined by Jess, but first we turn to Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, who's joining us from Charlotte, North Carolina, where he now works as an immigration judge.

Lieutenant Colonel, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the first day you went to Guantánamo and what you found.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, Amy, it was in October of 2003, shortly after I had joined the Office of Military Commissions. And on that particular day, I was waiting to watch the interrogation of one of the detainees who had been assigned to me to prosecute his case. This was a detainee that was particularly cooperative and involved in some very serious activities in the Gulf region. As I was waiting in a room next to his interrogation room, I heard some loud heavy metal rock music playing down the—down the hallway. I went down to investigate. I thought it was a couple of guards that were off duty and didn't realize that we were getting ready to conduct the interview. So I walked down the hallway, and as I reached the room where the source of the music was coming out, the door was cracked. And I looked into the room, and I could—all I could see was a strobe light flashing. The rest of the lights in the room were out, but from the flashes of the strobe light, I could see a detainee in orange sitting on the—seated on the floor and shackled, hand to feet, and rocking back and forth.

There were two civilians who asked me, you know, what was I doing. And I said, "I'm Lieutenant Colonel Couch. You need to turn that down. What's going on here?" And they just basically told me to move along, and shut the door in my face. There was a judge advocate reservist with me, and I said, "Did you see that?" And his immediate response: "Well, yes. That's approved." And so, that was my first inclination that there was—of evidence of coerced interrogations going on at Guantánamo.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what did you do at that point?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, I started mulling that over. For me, it was—it was a degree of a flashback. Before I had become a lawyer, I was a naval aviator in the Marine Corps, a C-130 pilot. And part of that training as an aviator, we were sent to a school called SERE school—Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. It's a school conducted by various Department of Defense entities to help train aviators for how to conduct themselves if they're ever taken into captivity by the enemy. Basically, it's—the course is based upon lessons learned of the treatment of aviators in the war in Vietnam and also the treatment of our own POWs that suffered in Korea. And so, what I saw occurring on that day in October of 2003 was right out of the SERE school playbook. It was precisely the same treatment that I had received there.

And so, having had that experience, my immediate concern was, if this is how the evidence is being collected in some of our cases, it's going to be inadmissible, because it's going to be at least coercive and at worst torture that precipitates that information. And so, there—at that time, I was still becoming acquainted with the military commissions process that had been set up. The rules and standards of admissibility of evidence were significantly different than I was accustomed to, both in civilian prosecutions as well as military courts-martial. And so, in my view, this incident sort of crystallized for me very quickly that there were going to be some problems with some of the evidence that we were to use.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, this, of course, was in 2003, before the Abu Ghraib photos were revealed to the world and where—before there was real discussion of possible mistreatment or torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. Could you talk about the—when you then began to get the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi and what you found as you began to deal with that particular case?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, by the—not long after I joined the office in August of 2003, the Slahi case was presented to me. And at that time, to our knowledge, he was one of the very few detainees held at Guantánamo Bay that had a 9/11 connection. As I was studying over the different statements that he had made, the intelligence reports that had come out of his interrogations, I could see a trend where he was uncooperative for a long period of time, but then, beginning in the later part of the summer of 2003, I saw where he began to give up significant information. And so, again, as a prosecutor, my view was past conduct and what evidence I had of past conduct and what was going to be his connection to 9/11, if any.

The vast majority—virtually all of the evidence I had against Slahi at that point were his own statements, as well as statements of another detainee. And so, to determine the veracity of that information, I had to find out, OK, why is he saying the things he's saying about his own conduct? And I actually plotted it out over a chart on a timeline, and I could see a definite point where he went from giving no information to giving a lot of information. And so, that was—after I saw what I saw in October of 2003, my concern was, if this—if these were the kinds of interrogation techniques that were being applied to Slahi to get his cooperation, then we might very well have a significant problem with the body of evidence that we were able to present as to his guilt.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you go into the details of some of his interrogations and what they reported?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, at that time—at that time, I was not privy to what techniques were applied in his interrogations. All I had was the intelligence reports that came out that stated what he—what admissions he made. And I do want to make sure I'm clear on this, that none of the information that I'm going to talk about today is classified at this point; it's all been subject to a congressional inquiry and is a matter of congressional record.

I requested information to tell me, OK, give me the circumstances of the interrogations and interviews where Slahi was giving his information, again, in preparation for the day down the road that I would have to present this evidence in court, with the concern of basically credibility of the information. That information was not provided to me. I had a criminal investigator that was working on this case, and as we began to discuss these matters, he had the same concerns that we might have a problem with the evidence. And I would note he's—he was also a former marine, as well, so we had a lot of commonality on how we viewed the world. This criminal investigator had unofficial sources of information on the intelligence side. There was kind of this dividing line between the law enforcement efforts at Guantánamo and the intelligence efforts at Guantánamo. My investigator had sources of information on the intelligence side, and he was able to start receiving documents and information that painted, for lack of a better term, the rest of the story—in other words, why—you know, what was the nature of these interrogations. And that information was coming out piecemeal.

And so, over the subsequent eight or nine months, it became clear that this information—that what had been done to Slahi amounted to torture. Specifically, he had been subjected to a mock execution. He had sensory deprivation. He had environmental manipulation; that is, you know, cell is too cold, or the cell is too hot. He, at one point, was taken off of the island and driven around in a boat to make him believe that he was being transferred to a foreign country for interrogation. He was presented with a ruse that the United States had taken custody of his mother and his brother and that they were being brought to Guantánamo. It was on a letter with fake letterhead from the State Department, I believe it was. And in the letter, there was a discussion that his mother would be the only female detainee held at Guantánamo and concerns for her safety.

So, any one of these individual things, I don't believe, as a legal matter, rose to the level of torture, until I got evidence of an email between one of the officers responsible for the—for the guards that were guarding Slahi and a military psychologist. And there was this discussion over this email about the fact that Slahi was experiencing hallucinations. And then—and the psychologist, as she was giving her opinion as to this concern raised, it was clear to me that she was aware that the circumstances of Slahi's detention had been set up to such a point where he would experience these types of mental breakdown.

And at that point, I had done some research. We had another lawyer in the office, another prosecutor, who was very experienced in international law, and I had discussed the issue with him. And under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—it's a treaty that was ratified by the United States in 1996—under that treaty, there is a definition of torture. And under that definition of torture, it includes mental suffering. And so, as I put it all together, what I saw was the fact that Slahi ultimately began to give information after all of these different interrogation techniques had been applied to him. I came to the conclusion we had knowingly set him up for mental suffering in order for him to provide information—

AMY GOODMAN: He was also sexually humiliated.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: —and that that met the definition under the U.N. Torture Convention.

AMY GOODMAN: Is that right? He was also sexually humiliated.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: He was. The evidence I saw was—apparently, he had a—he had an issue about the fact that he had been unable to impregnate his wife. And the interrogators at some point learned that and then began to capitalize on that with various issues related to sexuality. There was like a room set up with photographs of male and female genitalia on the walls, a baby crib, just some kind of, you know, just bizarre types of efforts related to his sexual hang-up, if you will.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to this discussion, and we'll be joined, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, retired U.S. Marine Corps prosecutor, by the author of the book called Terror Courts, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.

[break]

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lieutenant Colonel Couch, if you could, talk to us about your decision to tell your superiors that you did not feel you could prosecute this case because of the issues of possible torture.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, Juan, it was—again, it was sort of an incremental thing. I was receiving this information from a criminal investigator that he was gleaning through these unofficial sources. And after studying the U.N. Torture Convention, I found that there was a provision under Article 15 of the U.N. Torture Convention that said any evidence derived as a result of torture was inadmissible in any proceeding. And so, you know, I was trying to figure out, OK, what is "any proceeding"? And as I could tell from the source material behind the U.N. Torture Convention, I came to the legal conclusion that that included a military commission, as we were conducting them at that time under the president's military order of November of 2001.

I then turned to the ethical concern about what information did I need to be able to turn over to a defense counsel for Slahi in the future. And I would note, at that time, Slahi did not have a defense counsel, because we had not gone through the formal process of bringing a charge against him. So, I reviewed the pertinent ethical obligations. Under the discovery provisions of the president's military order at that time, it was evidence of his guilt known to the prosecution. And another provision was that the detainees would have a full and fair trial. And so, it was a very broad, broad construct, if you will, for discovery. As I looked at the ethical obligations that we have in the United States under the ABA Model Rules, and specifically under the rules of professional conduct of my bar, the state of North Carolina, I concluded that if I was in possession of information that, if given to his defense counsel, would allow his defense counsel to utilize those protections under Article 15 of the U.N. Torture Convention, I had that obligation to turn over to that defense counsel what I knew. And that was, again, prospective.

I was wrestling with these—with this legal issue and with this ethical issue. And then, ultimately, you know, one Sunday when I was in church, it all kind of came together. I describe myself as an evangelical Christian. I was attending a church service in the Anglican tradition, and it was a baptism of a child. And anybody who's ever been to one of these services knows that at the end of the baptism all of the congregants in the church stand up, and the pastor goes back and forth with basically the tenets of the Christian faith. And one of those tenets was that we would respect the dignity of every human being. And it was at that time, when I was professing that on Sunday, begged the question to me, if this is what you believe as a Christian, then how does that inform how you're going to act the other six days of the week? And that really, for me, was the moral point that I came to of what I had to do next.

And what I did next was I went and met with the chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions. I told him my legal opinion. I told him my ethical opinion. And then I stated in—you know, I have a moral reservation at this point that what's been done to Slahi is just reprehensible, and for that reason alone, I'm going to refuse to participate in the prosecution of his case. Shortly, within a couple of days, I reduced that—those positions into writing. I provided them to the chief prosecutor. And then, after a few days, I was told to transfer that case to someone else and for me to get busy on my other cases.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in that memorandum, you not only raised the question, you said that, quote, "If these techniques are deemed to be 'torture' under the [Geneva] Convention, then they would also constitute criminal violations of the War Crimes Act." And you went on to say, "As a practical matter, I am morally opposed to the interrogation techniques employed with this detainee and for that reason alone, refuse to participate in his prosecution in any manner." Now that must have been a bomb for you to put that into a memorandum to your supervisors in resigning from the case. What was the reaction?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, he wasn't happy about it. And—

AMY GOODMAN: And his name was?

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: —in our—that was Colonel Bob Swann. He was not happy about it. I felt like putting it into a memorandum was what I had to do to allow him to make an informed decision about the reservations that I had. My hope was that that memorandum would be shared with higher authorities over in the Department of Defense; you know, even if he didn't agree with my legal reasoning or my ethics opinion or my moral reservations, for that matter, at least to present to someone, "Hey, this is a potential issue that could be raised, and we need to be able to address that." And to my knowledge, that memorandum was never shared outside of the office.

AMY GOODMAN: So the defense never saw it, either.

LT. COL. STUART COUCH: Well, at this point, Slahi has never been charged in a military commission. He does have of counsel who represents him for a habeas corpus petition that he has brought in federal court, but where that memorandum went after that point, I don't know.

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Political Prisoner Nabeel Rajab Freed

Political Prisoner Nabeel Rajab Freed

by Stephen Lendman

Bahrain's Al Khalifa monarchy rules despotically. Ruthlessly. Extrajudicially. State terror is official policy. 

Activists are targeted, arrested, tortured, and imprisoned. Kangaroo court proceedings deny justice.

Nabeel Rajab is one of Bahrain's best. He's a prominent human rights leader. A courageous one. Committed for right over wrong.

In 2002, he, current political prisoner Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and others co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). 

Its objectives include:

(1) Promoting civil, political, and economic freedom.

(2) Ending racial discrimination.

(3) Disseminating human rights culture.

(4) Supporting and protecting victims' rights.

Promoting fundamental human and civil rights in Bahrain risks life and limb. Rajab was targeted before.

He was harassed, vilified, beaten, injured, arrested, tortured and detained. Bahraini justice is none at all.

Activists like Rajab know what they face. They challenge Al Khalifa ruthlessness anyway.

On August 16, 2012, Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison. At the time, BCHR condemned it "in the strongest terms." 

He was already serving a three month sentence. For defending fundamental rights. For "libeling the citizens of the town of Muharraq over twitter," prosecutors said.

Rajab responded, saying "(y)ou can jail me for 3 years or 30 years, but I will not back down or retreat."

No matter the personal cost. He promised continued support for democratic values. He called them too important to be denied.

"I think we have to pay a much higher price than what normally people pay for freedom and democracy because you will not hear much about what’s going on here, as much as you will hear things happening in different countries," he explained.

On March 20, 2011, masked security forces dragged him from his home. They did so after midnight. They blindfolded and handcuffed him.

They severely beat him. He was attacked before. He was interrogated about statements he made. His family was threatened. 

His children were harassed in school. His wife was sacked from her job.

He was banned from travel for several months. He was denied permission to participate in human rights conferences and meetings.

He was imprisoned for "illegal practices, inciting illegal assemblies, and organizing unlicensed demonstrations through social media websites."

He championed justice. Fundamental human and civil rights. Bahraini authorities criminalized them. King Hamad calls peaceful protests "foreign plots."

Rajab said Washington supports Bahraini despotism. Including "attacks against human rights defenders," he explained. Before his arrest, he said:

"Given that Bahrain in essence lacks a judiciary system that is independent and/or fair, and is far from being in line with international standards of a fair trial, I have decided to boycott the trial against myself." 

"The judiciary system in Bahrain, today, is a tool used against human rights defenders and people calling for democracy and justice."

He explained two formative incidents. They changed him. They inspired his human rights advocacy.

"Two events affected me most," he said. "(O)ne when a colleague dropped himself from second floor to escape under-covered police who stormed school." 

"The second incident was when a dear teacher was arrested. That is when my voice started to rise and become annoying." 

"I was caught while writing apolitical human rights statements on school walls and was given the choice to either be submitted to police or to switch schools." 

"I was the top student back then, but I choose to switch to Sheikh Abdul Aziz school." In college he challenged all forms of injustice.

Later he got involved in national campaigns. In 1999, he co-founded the Bahrain Human Rights Society. In 2002, BCHR followed.

It supports "a prosperous democratic country free of discrimination and other violations of human rights."

It "encourage(s) and support(s) individuals and groups to be proactive in the protection of their own and others' rights."

It "struggle(s) to promote democracy and human rights in accordance with international norms."

Rajab won numerous human rights awards. For wanting Bahrainis to live free. For championing fundamental democratic rights.

He's now free. After serving two years of his three-year sentence. BCHR welcomed him back. 

"His release comes at a time when thousands of others continue to be imprisoned and targeted on trumped up charges," it said.

"It is important to note that (he's) not being released as a gesture of goodwill, but rather because he served the full length of his arbitrary detention sentence."

On December 11, 2012, Bahrain's Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to two years. In prison, he was tortured. He was ill-treated. 

He was subjected to "dire conditions," said BCHR. He was mostly isolated in solitary confinement. Almost naked, he said.

RT International interviewed Rajab. "After two years in prison, I see Bahrain's political environment as more difficult and still without a roadmap for real reforms," he said.

"I was kept separate in a separate building for two years, just to make sure that I did not connect with the other prisoners," he added.

"There were very few people who were with me in that separate building." 

"They were people who did not speak my language or people who were charged with criminal charges, which was completely different from what I was charged with."

He'll keep fighting for justice, he stressed.

"I know this is the cost of the struggle in this part of the world and I am planning to continue my struggle, no matter how much is the cost, knowing that all the countries have freedom and democracy today," he said.

"Maybe some people have to pay this cost in order to achieve democracy and human rights and I am one of many people in this country who is willing to pay this cost for my nation and my second generation to have democracy, justice and human rights."

He was only tortured once, he said. Emotionally things were tougher. Others were less fortunate, he explained.

"I have witnessed other people being tortured in front of my eyes." 

"I have seen people being tortured by the police and I made a lot of noise while I was there." 

"I sent a complaint to the United Nations and they finally told me that they are looking into those accusations."

He said Bahraini political prisoners get little or no attention.

"We have been ignored by the international community because Bahrain is with the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, which has a lot of influence in the west," he said.

The struggle for justice in Bahrain continues. Achieving it is distant. It's a long ways off, Rajab stressed.

"When I was sent to jail, there was no violence. I tweeted that I have said to the government that if you take peaceful people like me, who advocate peaceful gatherings and put them in jail, then you will face people who commit violence." 

"All human rights activists in Bahrain are behind bars and this is why you see such violence."

Achieving real Bahraini democracy is his fundamental goal.

"All the aims which I am holding and the values that I am fighting for, it keeps me going, knowing that a lot of people are waiting for me, a lot of people need me to be out, need me to be focused and strong," he said.

"I will be there for my people."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called his detention arbitrary.

It contravened articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and articles 9, paragraph 1, 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it said. 

Horrific human rights abuses occur daily. Bahraini officials are rewarded for committing them. 

In July 2013, evidence proving Lt-Colonel Mubarak bin Huwail's guilt was dismissed.

Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa responded saying: "Thank you for your good work."

Bahrain's culture of impunity shows what human rights champions face. Rajab challenged this system courageously. He's not about to quit now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Psychology and War on Terror Abuses

Torture has been in the national news again this spring as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted last month to declassify key sections of its...

Text of UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses

UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses
ADVANCED UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the fourth report of the United States of America

1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR/3044, CCPR/C/SR/3045 and CCPR/C/SR/3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR/3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.
A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high level delegation which included representatives of state and local governments on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken, and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights by the State party. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a) The full implementation of article 6(5) of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary;
(b) The recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay;
(c) The Presidential Executive Orders 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”), 13492 (“Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities”) and 13493 (“Review of Detention Policy Options”), issued on 22 January 2009;
(d) The support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010;
(e) The Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing periodic review for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted, or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Applicability of the Covenant at national level 
4. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, despite the contrary interpretation of article 2(1) supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and state practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and the practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).  
The State party should:
(a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined inter alia in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant;
(b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government, and other public or governmental authorities, at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party under the Covenant (General Comment. No. 31, para. 4);
(c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of U.S. domestic law, and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to the Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure.
(d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134).
(e) Reconsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them. 
Accountability for past human rights violations
5. The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the U.S. Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program. While welcoming the Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meagre number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programme remain secret thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
6. While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of The Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reform of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14, and 26). 
The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
Racial profiling
7. While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17, and 26).   
The State party should continue and step up its measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia by: (a) pursuing the review of the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin; (b) continuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and inadmissibility of racial profiling; and (c) abolishing all “stop and frisk” practices.
Death penalty
8. While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that affects disproportionately African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven case-by-case. It is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for the wrongfully convicted and other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration by some states of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information on such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 26).  
The State party should (a) take measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias; (b) strengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring inter alia effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage; (c) ensure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for the wrongfully convicted (d) ensure that lethal drugs for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; (e) consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium. The Committee also encourages the State party, on the 25th anniversary of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, to consider acceding to the Protocol. 
Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
9. The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also known as ‘drones’, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al- Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces and in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defense and are governed by international humanitarian law, as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat” and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6, and 14). 
The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should: (a) ensure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including in particular with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict; (b) subject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used; (c) provide for independent supervision and oversight over the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes; (d) in armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties; (e) conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible; (f) provide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments.
Gun violence 
10. While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of the discriminatory effect of “Stand Your Ground Laws”, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws that are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6, and 26). 
The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should: (a) continue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law and strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban legislation of 1996 (the “Lautenberg Amendment”); and (b) review Stand Your Ground Laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence.
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).  
The State Party should  (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation. 
Legislation prohibiting torture
12. While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity (arts. 2 and 7).
The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture. 
Non-refoulement
13. While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent state practice (arts. 6 and 7). 
The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant, continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled. 
Trafficking and forced labour
14. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, including of children, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the U.S. under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking/forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24, and 26).
The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, to the extent that they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program. It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies. 
Immigrants
15. The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the U.S., health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).
The Committee recommends to the State party to review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions, to take measures ensuring that affected persons have access to legal representation, and to identify ways to facilitate access of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years and their families to adequate health care, including reproductive health care services.
Domestic violence 
16. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases  (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26)
The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.
Corporal punishment 
17. The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to tackle disciplinary issues arising in schools (arts. 7, 10, and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
18. The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned provided that he or she is unable to give consent, for the shortest possible time, without any long-term impact, and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.

Criminalization of homelessness
19. While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17, and 26).
The State party should engage with state and local authorities to: (a) abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels; (b) ensure close cooperation between all relevant stakeholders including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless in accordance with human rights standards; and (c) offer incentives for decriminalization and implementation of such solutions, including by providing continued financial support to local authorities implementing alternatives to criminalization and withdrawing funding for local authorities criminalizing the homeless.  
Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
20. The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances, in prolonged solitary confinement, and about detainees being held in solitary confinement also in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17, and 24).
The State party should monitor conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty be treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system, as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring detention conditions of prisoners on death row in line with international standards.
Detainees at Guantánamo Bay 
21. While noting President Obama’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the Departments of State and Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with within the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen, as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees, and ensure either their trial or immediate release, and the closure of the Guantánamo facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant. 
NSA surveillance
22. The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interests of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States through the bulk phone metadata program (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, the surveillance under Section 702 of Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted through PRISM (collection of the contents of communications from U.S.-based companies) and UPSTREAM (tapping of fiber-optic cables in the U.S. that carry internet traffic) programs and their adverse impact on the right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) have largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current system of oversight of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of those affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) that will now extend some safeguards to non-US persons “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that those affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5(1), and 17).
The State party should:
(a) take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
(b) ensure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise specifying in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted; the procedures for authorizing; the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance; limits on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;
(c) reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness, including by providing for judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering to establish strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;
(d) refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;
(e) ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences
23. While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting life without parole sentences for children convicted of non-homicide offenses (Graham v. Florida), and barring mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide offenses (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court still may, within its discretion, sentence a defendant to life without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile and that a mandatory or non-homicide related sentence of life without parole may still be applied to adults. It is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 24). 
The State party should prohibit and abolish all juvenile life without parole sentences irrespective of the crime committed, as well as all mandatory and non-homicide related sentences of life without parole. It should also ensure that all juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts. States that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions should be encouraged to change their laws.
Voting rights
24. While noting with satisfaction Attorney General Holder’s statement of 11 February 2014 calling for a reform of prisoner disenfranchisement State laws, the Committee reiterate its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities, and the lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia are denied the right to vote for and election of voting representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25, and 26).
The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences, provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options and remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures, as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence. It should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington, D.C. 
Rights of indigenous people
25. The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures being taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about restricted access of indigenous people to sacred areas essential for preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices and the insufficiency of consultation conducted with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).
The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.
26. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of the fourth periodic report, the written responses that it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations so as to increase awareness among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fifth periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.
27. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.

28. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report, due to be submitted on 28 March 2019, to provide specific, up-to-date information on all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole

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Which one ignores rule of law principles? Which one has no constitution? Which one has no official borders? 

Which one won't declare them? Which one won't do it because it wants them expanded? Which one intends doing so by stealing other people's land?

Which one mocks democratic values? Which one spurns fundamental human and civil rights? Which one institutionalized racism? Which one violates all international humanitarian laws? 

Which one persecutes people for praying to the wrong God? Which one ignores all UN resolutions compromising its interests? Which one considers Muslims subhumans?

Which one is all take and no give? Which one has no legitimacy? Which one lacks credibility? Which one can't be trusted? Which one says one thing and does another. 

Which one denies freedom to prisoners it releases? Which one illegitimately rearrests them? 

Which one harasses, intimidates and terrorizes released prisoners? Which one treats an entire people the same way? 

Which one does it because they're not Jews? Which one gets away with murder and lots more? 

Which one operates with impunity? Which one gets away with it because world leaders able to make a difference support its worst crimes? 

Which one rules lawlessly? Which one mocks fundamental decency? Which one considers mass murder, ethnic cleansing, land theft, torture, and other high crimes divine rights? 

Which one wages aggressive wars without mercy? Which one did so to steal another people's land? Which one illegitimately transformed Palestine into Israel? 

Long suffering Palestinians endure its cruelty. Thousands of political prisoners languish in its gulag. 

It's one of the world's harshest. Cruel and unusual punishment is official policy. So is ruthlessness writ large.

Many Palestinian victims are held uncharged and untried. Others are wrongfully imprisoned on bogus accusations. Women are treated like men. Children are treated like adults.

Horrific treatment includes torture, other cruel and degrading treatment, food unfit to eat, medical neglect, poor ventilation, sanitation and personal hygiene, inadequate clothing, and frequent solitary confinement for any reason or none at all.

Last summer, Israel agreed to release 104 long held prisoners. Freeing them is coincidental with sham peace talks. Lawless settlement expansions are announced at the same time.

Releasing small numbers of political prisoners is meaningless. Implementation is in four stages. In mid-August, 26 were freed. On October 29, an equal number followed. On December 30, so did 26 more.

Every time Israel releases Palestinians, many more imprisonments follow. So-called good will is fake. 

No Palestinian is safe. Israeli Arab citizens are vulnerable. Anyone can be imprisoned for any reason or none at all. 

Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst. It operates ruthlessly. State terrorism defines official policy. A cabal of criminals run things.

They waging war on Islam. They consider Muslims state enemies. They transformed Israel into an obscenity. 

Policies reflect self-righteous sophistry. Fascists pretend to be democrats. Hypocritical viciousness masquerades as Jewish exceptionalism. 

Peace, equity and justice are four-letter words. Fantasy world pretense substitutes illusions for reality.

Palestinian prisoner releases are conditional. Strings attached reveal duplicity. Addameer prisoner support group general director Sahar Francis said operating this way undermines "hope" and "trust."

"Israel has showed it is putting conditions on prisoner releases, and the US supports" its policy, she said. "Prisoners held before 1993 should have been released 20 years ago," she stressed. 

They never should have been imprisoned in the first place.
Releasing them after unjust longterm incarceration reflects Israeli viciousness. 

Attached strings makes it worse. Releases deny freedom. East Jerusalem residents can't visit West Bank or Gaza communities. Many can't leave their own neighborhoods. They can't travel abroad. 

Some aren't permitted to return home. They're deported to Gaza or abroad. Ayman Sharawna's release was conditional on spending 10 years in Gaza. 

For Hana Shalabi, it was three years. They had no choice. It was agree or stay imprisoned. They remain vulnerable to rearrest anyway.

Violating draconian Israeli rules means more imprisonment. For some, it's for many more years.

Involvement in political activities is prohibited. According to Francis:

"These practices show that the Israelis are not really seeking justice and a lasting peace with the Palestinians."

"If (they) really had good intentions to end the conflict and grant Palestinians basic rights under international law, they should release all Palestinian prisoners and stop arresting (more) in the occupied territories."

Israel routinely rearrests many former detainees. Since 1967, various military orders authorized occupation harshness.

On May 1, 2010, Military Order 1651 codified them into Israel's Criminal Code. It consolidated past versions relating to arrests, prosecutions, and detentions.

It applies to children like adults. Israel makes no distinction. Children of any age risk abuse and ill-treatment. It's standard Israeli practice.

Imagine imprisoning children younger than 10. Imagine doing it on fake evidence. Imagine isolating them from parents and legal counsel. 

Imagine torturing them to force confessions. Imagine children saying anything to stop pain. Imagine women abused the same way.

Military Order 1651, Article 186 lets a special Israeli military committee sentence released prisoners to complete unserved time. It can do so based on secret evidence or none at all.

Frequent rearrests are commonplace. Israel considers exercising fundamental rights terrorism. Military Order 101 criminalizes fundamental freedoms. Prohibitions include:

  • organizing protests; 

  • participating in them; 

  • public assembles and vigils;

  • holding them to seek relief from legitimate grievances;

  • displaying Palestinian flags and other symbols;

  • printing and distributing Palestinian political material; and

  • influencing public opinion by "political incitement."


Supporting so-called "hostile organizations" is prohibited. Demonstrations sympathetic to Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Palestine, and similar groups are strictly forbidden.

Francis calls draconian Israeli conditions "serious" human rights violations. Imposing them reflects police state ruthlessness. 

It shows Israel doesn't want peace. It never did. It doesn't now. 
Sham talks assure none in our time. Multiple earlier ones were stillborn on arrival. Current ones are no different.

Palestinians never had a legitimate peace partner. Longtime Israeli collaborationists represent them. They ignore decades of Israeli high crimes demanding prosecution.

They pretend sham talks are real. They're fake like they always were. Israeli crimes against humanity continue daily while they're ongoing.

So-called Palestinian negotiators turn a blind eye to abuses too grave to be ignored. Israel considers Palestinians "terrorists," said Francis.

It doesn't recognize them "as people seeking their independence and self-determination, and this makes the whole difference in the treatment of prisoners in the political channel."

"We are happy that…26 (more) prisoners who spent years of their life in jail are being freed...(O)f course, the sadness is in thinking of the remaining (thousands still) suffering (unjustly) behind bars."

Freedom depends on ending what's too intolerable to accept. It demands Israeli officials be held accountable for high crimes too grave to be ignored.

It requires liberation. It means ending occupation harshness once and for all. It demands criminalizing state terrorism. 

It means granting Palestinians all rights they deserve. It involves enforcing rule of law principles to the letter. It's exempting no one for any reason. 

It's punishing high crimes against peace severely. It's making it in our time possible. It's supporting right over wrong. It's doing it because it matters.

Long suffering Palestinians deserve justice. It's high time they're no longer denied.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/released-palestinian-prisoners-arent-free/

Palestinian Political Prisoners

Palestinian Political Prisoners

by Stephen Lendman

Palestine imprisons no Israelis for any reason - zero. Thousands of Palestinians wrongfully languish in Israel's gulag. 

They're tortured and abused. They're intimidated, humiliated and degraded. They're held under appalling conditions. 

They're poorly fed and clothed. They're denied proper medical treatment when ill. They're mostly political prisoners. They're punished for being Muslims.

Since Israel's occupation began, over 800,000 Palestinians were incarcerated. It's about 20% of Palestine's population. It's around 40% of its male population. Doing so is unprecedented anywhere.

Nearly all Palestinian prisoners are held inside Israel. Incarcerating them outside Palestine violates Fourth Geneva's Article 49. It states:

"...forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons (including prisoners) from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

Article 76 states:

"Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein."

Fourth Geneva requires treating all prisoners humanely. Israel ignores all international humanitarian laws. It does it willfully. It maliciously subjects Palestinians to cruel and unusual punishment.

On December 28, Israel announced the release of 26 Palestinian political prisoners. On December 30, they'll be freed.

They've been wrongfully imprisoned for 19 - 28 years. Last summer, Netanyahu got cabinet approval for 104 releases. 

Freeing them is coincidental with sham peace talks. New lawless settlement construction is announced at the same time.

Implementation is in four stages. In mid-August, 26 were freed. On October 29, an equal number followed. On December 30, so did 26 more.

Since releases began in August, Israel imprisoned many more Palestinians than it freed. Its so-called good will gesture is meaningless.

No Palestinian is safe. Anyone faces potential arrest and imprisonment any time for any reason or none at all. Police states operate this way.

Ahmed Qatamesh is a distinguished Palestinian academic, author, and human rights activist.

On April 21, 2011, Israel lawlessly arrested him. It did so pre-dawn. He was at his brother's home. 

An hour earlier, heavily armed Israeli security forces terrorized his wife, children and two female relatives. 

They were held hostage. It was done to compel Qatamesh's surrender. At gunpoint, his daughter Hanin was forced to call him. She explained her ordeal, saying:

"(T)hey pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house."

"After a futile search, the soldiers went to the apartment right above ours whose owners - US citizens - were away. They knocked down the main door and wrecked the place."

"They confiscated our phones, disconnecting us from the outside world. The commander forced me at gunpoint to call my father." 

"He then grabbed my phone and shouted at him, 'Surrender yourself or we'll destroy the house!' "

"Perhaps the most important principle that I learned from my dad was never to allow obstacles to keep me from realizing my dreams." 

"I will continue to dream of Palestinian freedom. Along the way, I will continue to expose the brutality of Israel's occupation and our land - and houses."

"It's so clear that he is there because of his ideas and political activism. He is a prisoner of conscience, and he is there because of political reasons."

His wife Suha said:

"It's so clear that he is there because of his ideas and political activism. He is a prisoner of conscience, and he is there because of political reasons."

Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti called his arrest "a shameless attempt at muzzling him in an unjustifiable attack on his freedom of expression."

Euromed Platform of NGOs vice president Gerarda Ventura called him "one of the most sensitive and intellectual people I have ever met." He highlighted his struggle for "freedom, justice and peace."

In 1969, his ordeal began. Israel detained him for several months. In 1972, he was arrested again. He was imprisoned for four years.

In 1992, he went underground. He did so until arrested in September. He was administratively detained for five and half years. Israel held him uncharged and untried.

He was tortured and abused for weeks. Israel shamelessly called him a "dangerous" leader. He documented his ordeal in prison notes. 

He titled them "I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush (a fez like cap)." He explained brutalizing torture and solitary confinement. Israel treats most Palestinian prisoners the same way.

At his October 31, 2011 military court hearing, he said:

"You are destroying my life, and I want to know why. As a human being, I have my own mind and I am educated, and I want to know what I am detained for."

In September 2011, Amnesty International (AI) declared him "a prisoner of conscience." He's imprisoned "solely for the peaceful expression of his political views," AI said.

In Occupied Palestine, Israel prohibits free expression and assembly. It denies Palestinians all rights.

Qatamesh was imprisoned administratively uncharged. So are many other Palestinians. They're denied due process.

They can't contest their detention. They can be held indefinitely. They're not told why. Three Israeli laws authorize detentions:

  • the Order Regarding Administrative Detention; it's part of 
  • military law governing the West Bank;

  • the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law for Israel; and

  • the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (the 2002 
  • Unlawful Combatants Law).

Four Israeli entities have decision-making authority:

  • Shin Bet (Israel's Security Agency);

  • military commanders in charge;

  • the IDF prosecutor's office; and

  • military judges adjudicating cases.

Administrative detentions last six months. They can be indefinitely renewed forever. Most detainees are held on individual administrative orders.

Israeli authorities decide based on a so-called "reasonable (belief) that the security of the region or public security" is threatened.

Prolonged detentions are common. Doing so grievously breaches international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

"Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one 
shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law."

"Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, 
of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him."

"Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful."

On December 26, the Samidoun Palestinian Solidarity Network 
headlined "Palestinian writer Ahmed Qatamesh released after 2 1/2 years of administration," saying:

He was "held in Israeli jails without charge or trial." His wife Sufa said he was released at Salem checkpoint.

Israel informed Addameer prisoner support group lawyer Mahmoud Hassan. Samidoun said Qatamesh "continued the struggle for justice and liberation for the Palestinian people inside and outside prisons for decades."

He "faced severe repressions for his clear voice of advocacy. (He's) a clear and heroic voice of dignity, justice, steadfastness and commitment to Palestinian rights."

On May 2, 2011, his daughter Hanin discussed "When Israeli soldiers came to arrest my father."

She was born in New York. She lived in Occupied Palestine through high school. She studied mass communication at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

"...I will not be silent," she said. "Israeli occupation soldiers" surrounded their house. They were heavily armed. They were "in combat formation. They "broke in and occupied the house."

"They threatened family members with machine guns. My 14-year-old cousin, Nai, and 69-year-old aunt were sleeping inside."

Nai "woke up trembling and speechless…After a futile search, the soldiers went to the apartment right above ours..."

US citizens owned it. They were away. Soldiers broke in. They "wrecked the place."

"There we were, four Palestinian females of different ages stuck in a room with a bunch of guns pointed at us. They confiscated our phones, disconnecting us from the outside world."

"The commander forced me at gunpoint to call my father, who was at his brother’s house. I did." 

"He then grabbed my phone and shouted at him, 'Surrender yourself or we’ll destroy the house!' "

"My father shouted back, loudly enough so I could hear him, 'You and your soldiers are tools of the occupation.' " 

"You are violating our basic rights. You have no right to be in our home. Come arrest me here and leave my family out of this!' "

Hanin vowed to continue exposing occupation harshness. Israel terrorizes millions of Palestinians. No one knows from one day to the next who'll live, die, be imprisoned, or remain free until another dawn.

Britain's University and College Union (UCU) is Europe's largest academic union. In May 2011, it called for Qatamesh's release, saying:

"Congress expresses its condemnation of this fundamental breach of human rights, instructs the General Secretary to raise the matter urgently with the (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), and the Israeli Embassy, and agrees to circulate the Amnesty appeal for Dr. Qatamesh to all members, urging them to write to MPs and the Israeli embassy calling for Qatamesh to be either released or charged and given a fair trial."

Gary Spedding founded the Queen's Belfast Palestine Solidarity Society. In 2012, he wrote Israel's UK ambassador Daniel Taub. In part he said:

"As concerned human rights campaigners we urge the Government of Israel to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmad Qatamesh from Israeli administrative detention."

He's "detained solely for the peaceful expression of his non-violent political beliefs."

"We urge you and the government you represent to release Ahmad Qatamesh immediately." 

"We urge you to end the practice of 'administrative detention' once and for all. No one should be imprisoned without charge or trial."

"No individual or group of people should be subjected to collective punishment by an occupying power."

Twenty UK-based student society organizations endorsed Spedding's letter.

It didn't matter. Qatamesh was lawlessly detained for two and half years. He's now free.

For how long remains to be seen. He's a marked man. So are other Palestinian human rights defenders. It bears repeating. Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/palestinian-political-prisoners/

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Washington Abuses Indian Diplomat

Washington Abuses Indian Diplomat

by Stephen Lendman

India's New York consular official was targeted. Devyani Khobragade is Deputy Consul General. On December 12, US marshals abused her.

They arrested, handcuffed, detained, and strip-searched her multiple times. India's government had to post a $250,000 bond for her release.

She's charged with visa fraud and failing to pay her Indian maid proper wages. True or false doesn't justify treating her abusively.

Doing so compromised her diplomatic immunity. Her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, said she'll plead not guilty. 

Her diplomatic status protects her from prosecution, he said. Regardless of pending charges, she deserved respect.

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, she should have enjoyed full diplomatic immunity. Host countries are obligated to provide it.

It grants foreign officials free movement and travel. It requires treating them respectfully. All appropriate steps must be taken. Article 29 states:

"The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity."

If nations want their diplomats treated lawfully, they're obligated to treat foreign officials the same way. International law mandates it.

Washington spurns it with impunity. It violates core constitutional and US statute law provisions. It operates extrajudicially. It does so unapologetically. It does so hypocritically.

CIA agent Raymond Davis operated covertly in Pakistan. In January 2011, he was arrested and detained. He shot and killed two men. It was at a crowded Lahore traffic stop.

Pakistan charged him with murder and possession of a concealed, unlicensed gun. Washington lied claiming it was a botched robbery. So did Davis saying he acted in self-defense. 

He shot both men 10 times in the back at close range. He fled the scene. He carried a telescope, a GPS set, bolt cutters, a survival kit, and a long-range radio. 

His gun a powerful Glock semi-automatic pistol. It's able to fire 17 - 33 rounds. It depends on what magazine is used.

Davis assassinated two targeted victims. It didn't matter. Obama officials claimed diplomatic immunity. They demanded his release. Davis was no diplomat. CIA operatives are spies. 

Washington applies pressure relentlessly. Doing so got Davis released. Murder didn't matter.

Alleged visa violations and underpaying wages apparently are more serious offenses. Only in America. Hypocrisy defines policy.

Why Washington would risk straining relations with India isn't clear. Why was it over offenses far less than major ones, if true? They pale compared to commonplace US policy brutality.

They don't rise to the level of American crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. 

Khobragade didn't rob, brutalize or kill anyone. If tried and convicted, potentially she faces years in prison.

India's government expressed justifiable outrage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called her treatment "deplorable." Other Indian officials voiced outrage.

Imagine if US embassy or consular officials were abused abroad. Imagine how Washington might retaliate. Khobragade explained her treatment, saying:

"I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, holed up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity."

Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro endured a similar abuse. It happened years earlier. At the time, he was Chavez's foreign minister.

In September 2006, he was part of Venezuela's New York General Assembly delegation. He arrived without trouble. None occurred during his stay.

Heading home, things changed. He was accosted at JFK Airport. Officials demanded he surrender his ticket and boarding pass. They claimed his name was on a so-called "red list."

He was lawlessly detained. He was taken to a small room. He was maliciously strip-searched. It was done to harass and humiliate him. He protested in vain.

He identified himself as Venezuela's foreign minister. He said treatment then got worse. Police threatened to handcuff and beat him.

He was isolated. He was detained for 90 minutes. He was denied legal and other outside contact. 

Venezuela's government demanded a full apology. A State Department spokesperson issued a contemptuous one. 

It was typical Washington. What happened was Bush administration thuggery. It continues unapologetically. Obama operates the same way.

Lawlessness defines longstanding US policy. So does unjustifiable brutality. America's most disadvantaged are mistreated. People of color are targeted for not being white. It happens with disturbing regularity.

Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. It's by far the world's largest. It's one of the most abusive. 

Torture is commonplace. Practices include dogs savaging prisoners, shocking them with cattle prods, burning them with toxic chemicals, harming them with stun guns, beating and abusing them in other ways.

Longterm isolation turns normal prisoners into dysfunctional ones. It contributes to anti-social behavior and mental illness. At times, it creates sociopaths. 

Other victims become zombies. Isolation is like being buried alive. It can cause irreversible psychological trauma and harm. 

It's common practice in US prisons. It's cruel and usual punishment.  It violates America's 8th Amendment. It doesn't matter.

Violence in America is endemic. It's part of the national culture. Among all industrialized nations, America by far has the highest homicide rate.

Similar video games crowd out simpler street play. Violent films are some of the most popular. Women are routinely abused. Husbands mistreat wives and daughters.

One-fourth of adult women are victimized by forcible rape. It happens one or more times in their lives. Often it's by someone they know. Family members are responsible.

Many girls are molested as young children. Often it's repeatedly by a close family member.

An astonishing 75% of women experience extreme levels of violence in one or more forms. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury. It's the second leading cause of death.

Homes with adult males are the most dangerous places for millions of women. Assailants abuse them freely. Often it's with impunity. Societal help is lacking.

Children endure horrific abuses. Millions suffer serious neglect, physical mistreatment, and/or sexual abuse. Family members are more dangerous than strangers.

Childhelp addresses prevention and treatment of child abuse. It defines it as "any act of commission or omission that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health and development."

It "includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably be explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature."

Non-accidental injuries include "hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping and paddling."

Sexual abuses include "fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts."

Neglect includes "(f)ailure to provide for a child's physical needs."

Examples include "lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food and water, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care and inadequate hygiene."

Emotional abuse includes "(a)ny attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development."

Examples include yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are 'bad, no good, worthless,' or 'a mistake.' " 

It's failing to provide parental affection and support. It's needed to develop a child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being.

All of the above practices are commonplace in America. Where's the public outrage? Why haven't authorities cared enough to act responsibly? 

Why do they most often turn a blind eye to outrageous forms of abuse? Why are perpetrators so rarely prosecuted? Why is a national epidemic allowed to persist?

America's elderly and infirm are affected. Women most of all are harmed. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates up to two million Americans aged 65 or older have been injured, exploited or mistreated by caregivers annually.

Often they're family members. Most often they're unpunished. Federal, state and local funding to combat it is less than years earlier.

Actor Mickey Rooney is aged 92. He's one of many victims. In March 2011, he testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

He implored members to stop what experts call chronic emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse of elderly Americans by family members or other caregivers.

His stepson, Christopher Aber, intimidated him, he said. He blocked access to his mail. 

He abused him various ways. He stole his money. He withheld medication and food. 

"You can't believe it's happening to you," said Rooney. "You feel overwhelmed." He urged Congress to criminalize what's happening.

"I'm asking you to stop this elderly abuse," he said. "I mean stop it now. Not tomorrow. Not next month, but now." Pass legislation saying "it's a crime, and we will not allow it in the United States of America."

Rooney said he suffered in silence. He did so for years. "I didn't want to tell anybody. I couldn't muster the courage, and you have to have courage," he stressed.

"I needed help, and I knew I needed it. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to shut up and be quiet." 

Eventually he got a court order. He turned over his affairs to an attorney. He got a restraining order against his stepson. Countless others suffer similar abuses. They do so largely out of sight and mind.

Despite his age and frailty, Rooney devoted time and effort publicly. He's an advocate for elder abuse protection. His celebrity gives him credibility and attention.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), over 14% of noninstitutionalized adults experienced some form of elder abuse in 2009.

It cautioned that reported numbers may way understate reality. Many elder abuse instances go unreported. So does widespread women and child mistreatment.

Dr. Mark Lachs heads geriatrics at the New York Presbyterian Health System. He was blunt, saying:

"I tell the physicians I train that if they've seen 15 or 20 older people in their practices then they have probably met an elder abuse victim, whether they realize it or not."

Based on a 2011 New York state study, "it would appear that for every elder abuse victim that makes it into an official service or reporting system, another 23 to 24 go undetected," Lachs stressed.

Women, children and elder abuse in America reflects a largely silent epidemic. Marie-Therese Connolly heads Life long Justice (LLJ). It's a nationwide initiative.

It pursues effective ways to safeguard America's elderly. Billions of dollars are spent to lengthen life. Elder abuse research gives pause for concern, says LLJ.

It estimates up to 11% of aged 60 or older elders at home suffer abuse, neglect or exploitation. Nearly half of all people with dementia at home are abused or neglected by caregivers.

"For every case of elder abuse (reported), 23.5 (others are) not." From "50% - 90% of nursing homes are understaffed at levels that harm residents."

"Elder abuse includes mistreatment, neglect and financial exploitation," says LLJ. 

"It occurs in homes and facilities; cuts across all demographic groups; and causes untold suffering and cost, not just for its victims, but also for those who care about and for them." 

"Victims often live their last years - impoverished, injured, neglected and in fear - with little effective assistance, protection or attention from any system."

They "suffer more injuries and illnesses and are three times more likely to die sooner than non-victims." 

"In addition to depleting the resources of already stressed individuals and families, elder abuse costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal, state and local program expenditures."

"We are at the early stage of a hidden epidemic," LLJ stresses. "As 77 million baby boomers age, and caregiving shortages grow more acute, the problem will" become much more serious than already.

Rooney expressed what many others feel, saying:

"You're afraid, but you're also thinking about your other family members." He noted concern about potential criticism from "family, friends, and people who know them."

"They might not want to accept the dysfunction. Everyone should love their families as I do. I love my family," he stressed. 

He deserves as much back or more in return. Millions like him lack it. America's most vulnerable are harmed. Abuses continue largely out of sight and mind. 

Even foreign dignitaries aren't safe. Diplomatic immunity doesn't matter. Nor does rule of law justice.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Gitmo press agent denies abuses amid ongoing hunger strike

Published time: March 18, 2013 13:17
U.S. Navy guards walk inside fencing of Camp VI, the maximum security detention facility for terrorism suspects at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Reuters/Randall Mikkelsen)

Despite a long history of reported human rights abuses at Guantanamo prison, which both the UN and US President Barack Obama denounced as torture, the prison’s Director of Public Affairs Captain Robert Durand has denied any wrongdoing.

“We will continue to carry out our mission to provide a safe and humane environment,”  he said.

Earlier this month, Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) denied the existence of an ongoing hunger strike at the facility.  Durand called detainee allegations of mistreatment, “outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations,” implying that the protest was insignificant compared to one that took place in 2006. He also claimed that detainees had fabricated incidents of misconduct.

“If the definition of a hunger striker is entirely in their control and is a matter of their discretion, then I think that explains how they are able to say that there are no more than a handful of men on hunger strike,” Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told RT.  

“While JTF-GTMO continues to deny the existence of a mass hunger strike at Guantánamo, attorneys report that the prisoners’ health is declining rapidly as the hunger strike enters its second month,” CCR said in a statement on Thursday.

Gitmo prisoners have reportedly been on a hunger strike over alleged mistreatment at the hands of prison guards. Some 130 people housed in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay are believed to be participating, and a reported two-dozen men have lost consciousness due to their low blood glucose levels from the hunger strike.

The prisoners are protesting against the sacrilegious disrespect displayed towards their religion by the confiscation of Korans, according to detainees and their lawyers. Although Durand has categorically denied “any claims of abuse, desecration or mishandling,” it is unclear how he defined those terms.

Mishandling does not necessarily mean covering the book’s pages in graffiti, burning it or otherwise mutilating it, but rather through a simple act such as touching it without being physically or spiritually clean. Many Muslim scholars assert that non-believers handling the text can also constitute an act of desecration.

“There have been no incidents of mishandling the Quran by guards or translators… JTF-GTMO guards are to avoid touching any detainee's Quran at any time.”  However, he did not confirm or deny whether detainees religious’ texts were touched by the translators, who have been accused of mishandling them.

Approximately five men have been subjected to force-feeding – a procedure that can be considered a form of ‘cruel or unusual punishment,’ contrary to the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution and tantamount to torture, according to a UN Human Rights Commission report in 2006. The same report demanded the immediate closure of the offshore prison, and to cease all such “practices amounting to torture.”

Force-feeding involves restraining a detainee by strapping them into a chair, inserting a tube down their throat and into the stomach, often through the nose; Durand confirmed that the five undergoing force-feeding have been subjected to the nostril-tube method.

Durand maintains that the “mission of Joint Task Force Guantanamo is the safe, legal, humane and transparent care and custody of detainees,” adding that JTF-GTMO “takes its duty to treat detainees very humanely and very seriously.”

Amnesty International has said that practices at the camp constitute “gross human rights abuses,” and illegal detention.

 A promise made, a promise broken


In January 2009, shortly after President Obama was inaugurated, he ordered the facility to be closed within a year, and banned certain interrogation methods after the US government admitted to torturing some of the detainees.  

However, in May of that year, the US Senate refused to allow the prison to be closed until the president provided more detail as to what would be done with the prisoners.

In mid-October 2009, Congress voted to allow some Guantanamo detainees to be moved to the United States for prosecution. But at the end of 2010, Congress approved a defense spending bill that forbade Guantanamo detainees from being tried in the US. And in January 2011, President Obama signed a Defense Authorization Bill that ruled out shutting down Guantanamo, and prevented the transfer of prisoners from the camp.

In March 2011, Obama signed an executive order resuming military trials for Guantanamo detainees – a move seen by many as a complete reversal of his previous policy. And in December 2011, the president refused to veto the national defense bill, paving the way for prisoners to be held indefinitely and without charge, and extending the ban on moving them from the prison.

Finally, in July of last year, the Pentagon announced its plans to lay a $40-million fiber-optic cable from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland, signaling their apparent intent to keep the facility open for the foreseeable future.

In 2004, the US drafted a document attempting to justify the continued imprisonment of the Guantanamo detainees, saying that since the US was engaged in a “real” war against Al-Qaeda, the “law of war therefore applies and allows us to hold enemy combatants without trial or charges until the end of the conflict.”

The UN issued a statement this week that the US is violating international human rights law by holding detainees indefinitely without charges.

RT's letter from Durand

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Veronica,

Sorry for the delay in response. The statement below is attributable to me, Captain Robert Durand, Director of Public Affairs, Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

The mission of Joint Task Force Guantanamo is the safe, legal, humane and transparent care and custody of detainees. We carry out this mission daily, and we take any allegation of misconduct very seriously.

The recent allegations by detainees that conditions at GTMO have deteriorated are patently false.  The JTF takes its duty to treat detainees humanely very seriously and seeks to ensure we conduct ourselves in accordance with the highest standards, and we remain under continual scrutiny, oversight, and inspection.  

Recent detainee allegations about incidents in the camps include outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations.  The claims of a mass hunger strike and an incident in which the Quran was mishandled are simply untrue.  First, we take extraordinary care to respect the Quran and categorically deny any claims of abuse, desecration or mishandling.  The number of detainees refusing all food has increased from six when the first allegation was made to 14 today; this is in comparison to 2006 when we had as many as more than 100 hunger strikers.  It certainly is not a widespread phenomenon as alleged.  Detainees have colluded among themselves to fabricate incidents and claim misconduct where there has been none.  Detainees have acted out individually, recently splashing guards with various bodily fluids and excrement, but there have not been any large-scale incidents.  These are coordinated acts specifically designed to attract media attention.

The medical staff continuously monitors and provides outstanding medical care to detainees in our custody.  The health and well-being of detainees is their primary mission and they take this duty as seriously as they would a duty to treat our own service members or any patient in their care.  The reports of hunger-strike related deteriorating health and detainees losing massive amounts of weight are simply untrue.

Regardless of these most recent allegations, we will continue to carry out our mission to provide a safe and humane environment for the detainees, and ensure the safety of our guard force.

Specifically, regarding the Quran, I can tell you that there have been no incidents of mishandling the Quran by guards or translators.

Per SOP (standard operating procedures), JTF-Guantanamo guards are to avoid touching any detainee's Quran at any time. The Quran is treated with the utmost respect..

Each detainee has available a personal Quran.  Detainees are also provided religious articles, such as prayer mats and beads that are used during the practice of their faith. Prayer times are posted in the camp, and silence is maintained by the guards and staff during prayer times. Understanding the detainees' religious practices and cultural norms is an essential part of training for all who work with detainees.

Regarding searches, there has been no change to our cell or block search SOPs.  We routinely conduct searches for contraband that could be used to harm guards, medical personnel, translators, instructors, attorneys or detainees. Contraband items found can include improvised weapons, communication devices, unauthorized food and medicine, and other items which detainees could utilize to harm themselves or others.

Our search procedures reflect our mission to treat detainees humanely. We respect both their religious and cultural norms with regard to the Quran, personal privacy and physical contact.

Detainees who follow camp rules have access to satellite television, personal DVD players, video games and more than 25,000 books, CDs, movies and TV shows. They also have many comfort items, including materials for crafts and extra food that detainees can store for snacks or treats in between meals.. Allowing these items provides incentives for the detainees to comply with well-established camp rules, but also provides them the opportunity to create and hide contraband.

Detainees who violate camp rules may have privileges suspended as a consequence. This may include moving from a communal block to a single cell, and loss of comfort items. Detainees know the rules, understand the consequences, and can regain their privileges by complying with camp rules.  Detainees in single cell confinement have basic issue items for clothing, hygiene and religious observances.

Detainees are never held in solitary confinement.  At no time is a detainee deprived of the basic elements of humane treatment: food, water, religious articles, hygiene items, medical treatment, or physical recreation opportunities.

Civilian Torture And Human Rights Abuse Rife In Iraq

A new report released today has found that 10 years after the US-led invasion, Iraq remains “enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses, including attacks on civilians, torture of detainees and unfair trials.”

Guantanamo Prisoners Have Been on Hunger Strike for Three Weeks, Lawyers Announce

Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay’s Camp 6 have been on hunger strike for roughly three weeks in protest of their treatment by guards and military officials there, the prisoners' lawyers announced Monday.

Detainee looks through fencing inside Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, June 26, 2006 (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) The prisoners' lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and habeas counsel sent a letter to military officials at Guantanamo requesting they take immediate action to improve the situation.

CCR released the following statement Monday:

After more than 11 years of indefinite detention and abuse, humiliation and reprisals, the military appears to be arbitrarily cracking down on the men detained at Guantanamo, going so far as to search their Qur’ans and confiscate family photos. In response, the men have felt that their only option to protest peacefully was to go on hunger strike, which has continued for more than three weeks and is now endangering their lives and health. Its failure to close Guantanamo aside, this administration should be far beyond such cruelties, particularly given how many of the men still trapped there have been unanimously cleared for transfer.

The letter notes:

Since approximately February 6, 2013, camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause. [...]

Arabic interpreters employed by the prison have been searching the men’s Qur’ans in ways that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs, and that guards have been disrespectful during prayer times. [...]

These actions, and the fact that they have affected so many men, indicate a significant departure from the way in which the rules have been formulated and implemented over the past few years. [...]

As a result of these practices, we understand that the men are suffering greatly and that a large number have gone on a hunger strike, which is now in its third week. As their health has deteriorated, we have received reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation. Detainees have also expressed feeling increased stress, fear, and despair. It is clear that their health will only worsen unless and until the hunger strike ends, which requires taking immediate steps to address the reasons for their protest…

Read the full letter here.

Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake adds:

Detainees first began to engage in hunger strikes in 2002. The hunger strikes had a definite impact. The strikes from 2002 to 2005 effectively changed the dynamics in the prison. Former detainee Binyam Mohamed said there was no law and a colonel was saying, “’I do what I like’ but after the hunger strike – the big hunger strike of 2005 – they actually started implementing some kind of law that we knew about.” But, come 2006, the prison began to force feed detainees that were striking and force tubes down detainees’ throats in a manner that successfully convinced many of the detainees to end their resistance.

In March 2011, Jason Leopold of Truthout reported detainees continued to participate in hunger strikes with the hope that the conditions of their detention would improve or so they would no longer have their basic due process rights violated.

The tenth anniversary of the opening of the prison in January 2012 reportedly saw prisoners mark the anniversary by engaging in three days of protest that included hunger striking. [...]

When considering the fact that 166 prisoners remain in confinement and 86 of them have been cleared for release by a review task force authorized by President Barack Obama, it would seem fulfilling these two demands would be the least the military or government could do. [...]

When considering the fact that 166 prisoners remain in confinement and 86 of them have been cleared for release by a review task force authorized by President Barack Obama, it would seem fulfilling these two demands would be the least the military or government could do.

_______________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Karzai points to abuse probe’s findings

An afghan prisoner looks out of his cell window at the main prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (File photo)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says an official investigation into torture and ill-treatment in the country’s jails has found half of the interviewed prisoners complaining of abuse.

"According to the report of the commission of inquiry, half of the prisoners interviewed complained of mistreatment, harassment and even torture during their detention," AFP quoted the president as saying in a statement.

Karzai ordered the probe after the United Nations issued a report in January, saying that Afghanistan used torture and abuse tactics against detainees who were transferred to Afghan control by US-led forces.

The 139-page report noted that over half of the detainees interviewed between October 2011 and October 2012 said that they experienced torture or abuse.

The report detailed fourteen types of torture, including beatings with cables and pipes, attacks on the genitals, threats of execution or rape, electric shocks, and forced stress positions.


Afghan government had earlier said that findings by its internal monitoring committee showed that "the allegations of torture of detainees were untrue and thus disproved.”

MN/HN

Imposing Real Consequences for Prosecutorial Abuse in Case of Aaron Swartz

Whenever an avoidable tragedy occurs, it's common for there to be an intense spate of anger in its immediate aftermath which quickly dissipates as people move on to the next outrage. That's a key dynamic that enables people in positions of authority to evade consequences for their bad acts. But as more facts emerge regarding the conduct of the federal prosecutors in the case of Aaron Swartz - Massachusetts' US attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann - the opposite seems to be taking place: there is greater and greater momentum for real investigations, accountability and reform. It is urgent that this opportunity not be squandered, that this interest be sustained.US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire for her office's conduct in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. (Photograph: US Department of Justice)

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that - two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday - federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz's lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he "would need to plead guilty to every count" and made clear that "the government would insist on prison time". That made a trial on all 15 felony counts - with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted - a virtual inevitability.

Just three months ago, Ortiz's office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which "carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony", meaning "the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million." That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced "a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers".

Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz's funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son "was killed by the government".

Ortiz and Heymann continue to refuse to speak publicly about what they did in this case - at least officially. Yesterday, Ortiz's husband, IBM Corp executive Thomas J. Dolan, took to Twitter and - without identifying himself as the US Attorney's husband - defended the prosecutors' actions in response to prominent critics, and even harshly criticized the Swartz family for assigning blame to prosecutors: "Truly incredible in their own son's obit they blame others for his death", Ortiz's husband wrote. Once Dolan's identity was discovered, he received assertive criticism and then sheepishly deleted his Twitter account.

Clearly, the politically ambitious Ortiz - who was touted just last month by the Boston Globe as a possible Democratic candidate for governor - is feeling serious heat as a result of rising fury over her office's wildly overzealous pursuit of Swartz. The same is true of Heymman, whose father was Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration and who has tried to forge his own reputation as a tough-guy prosecutor who takes particular aim at hackers.

Yesterday, the GOP's House Oversight Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa, announced a formal investigation into the Justice Department's conduct in this case. Separately, two Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee issued stinging denunciations, with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis proclaiming that "the charges were ridiculous and trumped-up" and labeling Swartz a "martyr" for the evils of minimum sentencing guidelines, while Rep. Zoe Lofgren denounced the prosecutors' behavior as "pretty outrageous" and "way out of line".

The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless - or especially, as in Swartz's case, those who challenge power - are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions.

A petition on the White House's website to fire Ortiz quickly exceeded the 25,000 signatures needed to compel a reply, and a similar petition aimed at Heymann has also attracted thousands of signatures, and is likely to gather steam in the wake of revelations that another young hacker committed suicide in 2008 in response to Heymann's pursuit of him (You can [and I hope will] sign both petitions by clicking on those links; the Heymann petition in particular needs more signatures).

In sum, as CNET's Declan McCullagh detailed in a comprehensive article this morning, it is Ortiz who "has now found herself in an unusual - and uncomfortable - position: as the target of an investigation instead of the initiator of one." And that's exactly as it should be given that, as he documents, there is little question that her office sought to make an example out of Swartz for improper and careerist benefits. Swartz "was enhancing the careers of a group of career prosecutors and a very ambitious - politically-ambitious - U.S. attorney who loves to have her name in lights," the Cambridge criminal lawyer Harvey Silverglate told McCullagh. Swartz's lawyer said that Heymann "was going to receive press and he was going to be a tough guy and read his name in the newspaper." Writes McCullagh:

"If Swartz had stolen a $100 hard drive with the JSTOR articles, it would have been a misdemeanor offense that would have yielded probation or community service. But the sweeping nature of federal computer crime laws allowed Ortiz and [] Heymann, who wanted a high-profile computer crime conviction, to pursue felony charges. Heymann threatened the diminutive free culture activist with over 30 years in prison as recently as last week."

For numerous reasons, it is imperative that there be serious investigations about what took place here and meaningful consequences for this prosecutorial abuse, at least including firing. It is equally crucial that there be reform of the criminal laws and practices that enable this to take place in so many other cases and contexts.

To begin with, there has been a serious injustice in the Swartz case, and that alone compels accountability. Prosecutors are vested with the extraordinary power to investigate, prosecute, bankrupt, and use the power of the state to imprison people for decades. They have the corresponding obligation to exercise judgment and restraint in how that power is used. When they fail to do so, lives are ruined - or ended.

The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless - or especially, as in Swartz's case, those who challenge power - are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions. All one has to do to see that this is true is to contrast the incredible leniency given by Ortiz's office to large companies and executives accused of serious crimes with the indescribably excessive pursuit of Swartz.

This immunity for people with power needs to stop. The power of prosecutors is particularly potent, and abuse of that power is consequently devastating. Prosecutorial abuse is widespread in the US, and it's vital that a strong message be sent that it is not acceptable. Swartz's family strongly believes - with convincing rationale - that the abuse of this power by Ortiz and Heymann played a key role in the death of their 26-year-old son. It would be unconscionable to decide that this should be simply forgotten.

Beyond this specific case, the US government - as part of its war to vest control over the internet in itself and in corporate factions - has been wildly excessive, almost hysterical, in punishing even trivial and harmless activists who are perceived as "hackers". The 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) - enacted in the midst of that decade's hysteria over hackers - is so broad and extreme that it permits federal prosecutors to treat minor, victimless computer pranks - or even violations of a website's "terms of service" - as major felonies, which is why Rep. Lofgren just announced her proposed "Aaron's Law" to curb some of its abuses.

But the abuses here extend far beyond the statutes in question. There is, as I wrote about on Saturday when news of Swartz's suicide spread, a general effort to punish with particular harshness anyone who challenges the authority of government and corporations to maintain strict control over the internet and the information that flows on it. Swartz's persecution was clearly waged by the government as a battle in the broader war for control over the internet. As Swartz's friend, the NYU professor and Harvard researcher Danah Boyd, described in her superb analysis:

"When the federal government went after him – and MIT sheepishly played along – they weren't treating him as a person who may or may not have done something stupid. He was an example. And the reason they threw the book at him wasn't to teach him a lesson, but to make a point to the entire Cambridge hacker community that they were p0wned. It was a threat that had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with a broader battle over systemic power.

"In recent years, hackers have challenged the status quo and called into question the legitimacy of countless political actions. Their means may have been questionable, but their intentions have been valiant. The whole point of a functioning democracy is to always question the uses and abuses of power in order to prevent tyranny from emerging. Over the last few years, we've seen hackers demonized as anti-democratic even though so many of them see themselves as contemporary freedom fighters. And those in power used Aaron, reframing his information liberation project as a story of vicious hackers whose terroristic acts are meant to destroy democracy . . . .

"So much public effort has been put into controlling and harmonizing geek resistance, squashing the rebellion, and punishing whoever authorities can get their hands on. But most geeks operate in gray zones, making it hard for them to be pinned down and charged. It's in this context that Aaron's stunt gave federal agents enough evidence to bring him to trial to use him as an example. They used their power to silence him and publicly condemn him even before the trial even began."

The grotesque abuse of Bradley Manning. The dangerous efforts to criminalize WikiLeaks' journalism. The severe overkill that drives the effort to apprehend and punish minor protests by Anonymous teenagers while ignoring far more serious cyber-threats aimed at government critics. The Obama administration's unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers. And now the obscene abuse of power applied to Swartz.

This is not just prosecutorial abuse. It's broader than that. It's all part and parcel of the exploitation of law and the justice system to entrench those in power and shield themselves from meaningful dissent and challenge by making everyone petrified of the consequences of doing anything other than meekly submitting to the status quo. As another of Swartz's friends, Matt Stoller, wrote in an equally compelling essay:

"What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn't just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It's also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There's a reason whistleblowers get fired. There's a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There's a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriakou - who told the world it was going on. There's a reason those who destroyed the financial system 'dine at the White House', as Lawrence Lessig put it.

"There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq.

"This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice."

In most of what I've written and spoken about over the past several years, this is probably the overarching point: the abuse of state power, the systematic violation of civil liberties, is about creating a Climate of Fear, one that is geared toward entrenching the power and position of elites by intimidating the rest of society from meaningful challenges and dissent. There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent.

The law and prosecutorial power should not be abused to crush and destroy those who commit the "crime" of engaging in activism and dissent against the acts of elites. Nobody contests the propriety of charging Swartz with some crime for what he did. Civil disobedience is supposed to have consequences. The issue is that he was punished completely out of proportion to what he did, for ends that have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice. That has consequences far beyond his case, and simply cannot be tolerated.

Finally, there is the general disgrace of the US justice system: the wildly excessive emphasis on merciless punishment even for small transgressions. Numerous people have written extensively about the evils of America's penal state, including me in my last book and when the DOJ announced that HSBC would not be prosecuted for money laundering because, in essence, it was too big to jail.

All the statistics are well known at this point. The US imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. Despite having only roughly 5% of the world's population, the US has close to 25% of the world's prisoners in its cages. This is the result of decades of a warped, now-bipartisan obsession with proving "law and order" bona fides by advocating for ever harsher and less forgiving prison terms even for victimless "crimes".

The "drug war" is the leading but by no means only culprit. The result of this punishment-obsessed justice approach is not only that millions of Americans are branded as felons and locked away, but that the nation's racial minorities are disproportionately harmed. As the conservative writer Michael Moynihan detailed this morning in the Daily Beast, there is growing bipartisan recognition "the American criminal justice system, in its relentlessness and inflexibility, its unduly harsh sentencing guidelines, requires serious reexamination." As he documents, prosecutors have virtually unchallengeable power at this point to convict anyone they want.

In sum, as Sen Jim Webb courageously put it when he introduced a bill aimed at fundamentally reforming America's penal state, a bill that predictably went nowhere: "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace" and "we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail." The tragedy of Aaron Swartz's mistreatment can and should be used as a trigger to challenge these oppressive penal policies. As Moynihan wrote: "those outraged by Swartz's suicide and looking to convert their anger into action would be best served by focusing their attention on the brutishness and stupidity of America's criminal justice system."

But none of this reform will be possible without holding accountable the prime culprits in this case: Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann [MIT officials have their own reckoning to do]. Their status as federal prosecutors does not and must not vest them with immunity; the opposite is true: the vast power that has been vested in them requires consequences when it is abused. It is up to the rest of us to ensure that this happens, not to forget the anger and injustice from this case in a week or a month or a year. A sustained public campaign is necessary to bring real accountability to Ortiz and Heymann, and only then can further urgently needed reforms flow from the tragedy of Swartz's suicide.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited

Glenn Greenwald

Imposing Real Consequences for Prosecutorial Abuse in Case of Aaron Swartz

Whenever an avoidable tragedy occurs, it's common for there to be an intense spate of anger in its immediate aftermath which quickly dissipates as people move on to the next outrage. That's a key dynamic that enables people in positions of authority to evade consequences for their bad acts. But as more facts emerge regarding the conduct of the federal prosecutors in the case of Aaron Swartz - Massachusetts' US attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann - the opposite seems to be taking place: there is greater and greater momentum for real investigations, accountability and reform. It is urgent that this opportunity not be squandered, that this interest be sustained.US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire for her office's conduct in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. (Photograph: US Department of Justice)

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that - two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday - federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz's lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he "would need to plead guilty to every count" and made clear that "the government would insist on prison time". That made a trial on all 15 felony counts - with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted - a virtual inevitability.

Just three months ago, Ortiz's office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which "carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony", meaning "the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million." That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced "a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers".

Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz's funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son "was killed by the government".

Ortiz and Heymann continue to refuse to speak publicly about what they did in this case - at least officially. Yesterday, Ortiz's husband, IBM Corp executive Thomas J. Dolan, took to Twitter and - without identifying himself as the US Attorney's husband - defended the prosecutors' actions in response to prominent critics, and even harshly criticized the Swartz family for assigning blame to prosecutors: "Truly incredible in their own son's obit they blame others for his death", Ortiz's husband wrote. Once Dolan's identity was discovered, he received assertive criticism and then sheepishly deleted his Twitter account.

Clearly, the politically ambitious Ortiz - who was touted just last month by the Boston Globe as a possible Democratic candidate for governor - is feeling serious heat as a result of rising fury over her office's wildly overzealous pursuit of Swartz. The same is true of Heymman, whose father was Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration and who has tried to forge his own reputation as a tough-guy prosecutor who takes particular aim at hackers.

Yesterday, the GOP's House Oversight Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa, announced a formal investigation into the Justice Department's conduct in this case. Separately, two Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee issued stinging denunciations, with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis proclaiming that "the charges were ridiculous and trumped-up" and labeling Swartz a "martyr" for the evils of minimum sentencing guidelines, while Rep. Zoe Lofgren denounced the prosecutors' behavior as "pretty outrageous" and "way out of line".

The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless - or especially, as in Swartz's case, those who challenge power - are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions.

A petition on the White House's website to fire Ortiz quickly exceeded the 25,000 signatures needed to compel a reply, and a similar petition aimed at Heymann has also attracted thousands of signatures, and is likely to gather steam in the wake of revelations that another young hacker committed suicide in 2008 in response to Heymann's pursuit of him (You can [and I hope will] sign both petitions by clicking on those links; the Heymann petition in particular needs more signatures).

In sum, as CNET's Declan McCullagh detailed in a comprehensive article this morning, it is Ortiz who "has now found herself in an unusual - and uncomfortable - position: as the target of an investigation instead of the initiator of one." And that's exactly as it should be given that, as he documents, there is little question that her office sought to make an example out of Swartz for improper and careerist benefits. Swartz "was enhancing the careers of a group of career prosecutors and a very ambitious - politically-ambitious - U.S. attorney who loves to have her name in lights," the Cambridge criminal lawyer Harvey Silverglate told McCullagh. Swartz's lawyer said that Heymann "was going to receive press and he was going to be a tough guy and read his name in the newspaper." Writes McCullagh:

"If Swartz had stolen a $100 hard drive with the JSTOR articles, it would have been a misdemeanor offense that would have yielded probation or community service. But the sweeping nature of federal computer crime laws allowed Ortiz and [] Heymann, who wanted a high-profile computer crime conviction, to pursue felony charges. Heymann threatened the diminutive free culture activist with over 30 years in prison as recently as last week."

For numerous reasons, it is imperative that there be serious investigations about what took place here and meaningful consequences for this prosecutorial abuse, at least including firing. It is equally crucial that there be reform of the criminal laws and practices that enable this to take place in so many other cases and contexts.

To begin with, there has been a serious injustice in the Swartz case, and that alone compels accountability. Prosecutors are vested with the extraordinary power to investigate, prosecute, bankrupt, and use the power of the state to imprison people for decades. They have the corresponding obligation to exercise judgment and restraint in how that power is used. When they fail to do so, lives are ruined - or ended.

The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless - or especially, as in Swartz's case, those who challenge power - are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions. All one has to do to see that this is true is to contrast the incredible leniency given by Ortiz's office to large companies and executives accused of serious crimes with the indescribably excessive pursuit of Swartz.

This immunity for people with power needs to stop. The power of prosecutors is particularly potent, and abuse of that power is consequently devastating. Prosecutorial abuse is widespread in the US, and it's vital that a strong message be sent that it is not acceptable. Swartz's family strongly believes - with convincing rationale - that the abuse of this power by Ortiz and Heymann played a key role in the death of their 26-year-old son. It would be unconscionable to decide that this should be simply forgotten.

Beyond this specific case, the US government - as part of its war to vest control over the internet in itself and in corporate factions - has been wildly excessive, almost hysterical, in punishing even trivial and harmless activists who are perceived as "hackers". The 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) - enacted in the midst of that decade's hysteria over hackers - is so broad and extreme that it permits federal prosecutors to treat minor, victimless computer pranks - or even violations of a website's "terms of service" - as major felonies, which is why Rep. Lofgren just announced her proposed "Aaron's Law" to curb some of its abuses.

But the abuses here extend far beyond the statutes in question. There is, as I wrote about on Saturday when news of Swartz's suicide spread, a general effort to punish with particular harshness anyone who challenges the authority of government and corporations to maintain strict control over the internet and the information that flows on it. Swartz's persecution was clearly waged by the government as a battle in the broader war for control over the internet. As Swartz's friend, the NYU professor and Harvard researcher Danah Boyd, described in her superb analysis:

"When the federal government went after him – and MIT sheepishly played along – they weren't treating him as a person who may or may not have done something stupid. He was an example. And the reason they threw the book at him wasn't to teach him a lesson, but to make a point to the entire Cambridge hacker community that they were p0wned. It was a threat that had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with a broader battle over systemic power.

"In recent years, hackers have challenged the status quo and called into question the legitimacy of countless political actions. Their means may have been questionable, but their intentions have been valiant. The whole point of a functioning democracy is to always question the uses and abuses of power in order to prevent tyranny from emerging. Over the last few years, we've seen hackers demonized as anti-democratic even though so many of them see themselves as contemporary freedom fighters. And those in power used Aaron, reframing his information liberation project as a story of vicious hackers whose terroristic acts are meant to destroy democracy . . . .

"So much public effort has been put into controlling and harmonizing geek resistance, squashing the rebellion, and punishing whoever authorities can get their hands on. But most geeks operate in gray zones, making it hard for them to be pinned down and charged. It's in this context that Aaron's stunt gave federal agents enough evidence to bring him to trial to use him as an example. They used their power to silence him and publicly condemn him even before the trial even began."

The grotesque abuse of Bradley Manning. The dangerous efforts to criminalize WikiLeaks' journalism. The severe overkill that drives the effort to apprehend and punish minor protests by Anonymous teenagers while ignoring far more serious cyber-threats aimed at government critics. The Obama administration's unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers. And now the obscene abuse of power applied to Swartz.

This is not just prosecutorial abuse. It's broader than that. It's all part and parcel of the exploitation of law and the justice system to entrench those in power and shield themselves from meaningful dissent and challenge by making everyone petrified of the consequences of doing anything other than meekly submitting to the status quo. As another of Swartz's friends, Matt Stoller, wrote in an equally compelling essay:

"What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn't just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It's also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There's a reason whistleblowers get fired. There's a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There's a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriakou - who told the world it was going on. There's a reason those who destroyed the financial system 'dine at the White House', as Lawrence Lessig put it.

"There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq.

"This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice."

In most of what I've written and spoken about over the past several years, this is probably the overarching point: the abuse of state power, the systematic violation of civil liberties, is about creating a Climate of Fear, one that is geared toward entrenching the power and position of elites by intimidating the rest of society from meaningful challenges and dissent. There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent.

The law and prosecutorial power should not be abused to crush and destroy those who commit the "crime" of engaging in activism and dissent against the acts of elites. Nobody contests the propriety of charging Swartz with some crime for what he did. Civil disobedience is supposed to have consequences. The issue is that he was punished completely out of proportion to what he did, for ends that have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice. That has consequences far beyond his case, and simply cannot be tolerated.

Finally, there is the general disgrace of the US justice system: the wildly excessive emphasis on merciless punishment even for small transgressions. Numerous people have written extensively about the evils of America's penal state, including me in my last book and when the DOJ announced that HSBC would not be prosecuted for money laundering because, in essence, it was too big to jail.

All the statistics are well known at this point. The US imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. Despite having only roughly 5% of the world's population, the US has close to 25% of the world's prisoners in its cages. This is the result of decades of a warped, now-bipartisan obsession with proving "law and order" bona fides by advocating for ever harsher and less forgiving prison terms even for victimless "crimes".

The "drug war" is the leading but by no means only culprit. The result of this punishment-obsessed justice approach is not only that millions of Americans are branded as felons and locked away, but that the nation's racial minorities are disproportionately harmed. As the conservative writer Michael Moynihan detailed this morning in the Daily Beast, there is growing bipartisan recognition "the American criminal justice system, in its relentlessness and inflexibility, its unduly harsh sentencing guidelines, requires serious reexamination." As he documents, prosecutors have virtually unchallengeable power at this point to convict anyone they want.

In sum, as Sen Jim Webb courageously put it when he introduced a bill aimed at fundamentally reforming America's penal state, a bill that predictably went nowhere: "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace" and "we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail." The tragedy of Aaron Swartz's mistreatment can and should be used as a trigger to challenge these oppressive penal policies. As Moynihan wrote: "those outraged by Swartz's suicide and looking to convert their anger into action would be best served by focusing their attention on the brutishness and stupidity of America's criminal justice system."

But none of this reform will be possible without holding accountable the prime culprits in this case: Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann [MIT officials have their own reckoning to do]. Their status as federal prosecutors does not and must not vest them with immunity; the opposite is true: the vast power that has been vested in them requires consequences when it is abused. It is up to the rest of us to ensure that this happens, not to forget the anger and injustice from this case in a week or a month or a year. A sustained public campaign is necessary to bring real accountability to Ortiz and Heymann, and only then can further urgently needed reforms flow from the tragedy of Swartz's suicide.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited

Glenn Greenwald

US Law Prohibits Transferring Guantanamo Prisoners to America

guantanamo

FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation proscribes it.

January 11, 2013 marks Guantanamo’s 11th anniversary. More on that below.

On January 11, 2002, its first 20 prisoners arrived. It’s one of many US torture prisons globally.

Most held there are innocent victims. They’re not terrorists. They’re lawlessly detained. Many remained for years uncharged and untried. Fundamental rights are denied.

Seton Hall University Law Professor Mark Denebeaux analyzed unclassified government data. He got them through FOIA requests.

They revealed what’s vital to know. The vast majority of Guantanamo detainees weren’t accused of hostile acts. Afghan bounty hunters seized around 95% of them.

They sold them to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for alleged Al Qaeda members. Evidence of criminality wasn’t sought.

Washington wanted prisoners. It still does. Innocence or guilt didn’t matter. It still doesn’t.

What George Bush began, Obama continues. It’s institutionalized. Torture and other crimes against humanity reflect official US policy.

On January 20, 2009, Obama became America’s 44th president. He promised closure. On January 22, 2009, his Executive Order followed. It said:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Guantánamo) and promptly to close detention facilities at Guantánamo, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice…”

He promised “immediate review of all” detainees within 30 days and “humane standards of confinement.”

He lied. He’s a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. He’s a moral coward. He’s an unindicted war criminal. He belongs in prison, not government.

He’s got four more years to wage war on humanity. Expect him to take full advantage.

On January 3, 2013, the ACLU headlined “NDAA Prevents Closing Guantanamo, Could Lead to Claims of a Right to Discriminate.”

On December 31, 2012 (New Year’s eve), Obama signed FY 2012 NDAA legislation. He assumed diktat authority. He’s now judge, jury and executioner.

NDAA lets him order anyone arrested and indefinitely detained. He can do so based solely on suspicions, unfounded allegations, or none at all. US citizens are included. They can be targeted at home or abroad. There’s no place to hide.

FY 2013 NDAA repeats the same authority. Obama again signed quietly on New Year’s eve. Doing so helps institutionalize greater harshness. It’s fast-tracking America toward full-blown tyranny.

It targeted Guantanamo detainees. The ACLU explained, saying:

Obama signed NDAA. It “jeopardizes his ability to meet his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay during his presidency.”

It “contains a troubling provision compelling the military to accommodate the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of all members of the armed forces without accounting for the effect an accommodation would have.”

It “restricts Obama’s ability to transfer detainees for repatriation or resettlement in foreign countries or to prosecute them in federal criminal court.”

“Originally set to expire on March 27, the transfer restrictions have been extended through Sept. 30. As recently as October, Obama reiterated his commitment to close Guantanamo. Currently, 166 prisoners remain at the prison camp.”

According to ACLU director Anthony Romero:

Obama “utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.”

He “jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency.”

“Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime – including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer – may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reported on “torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of” Guantanamo prisoners.

Documented evidence was obtained. Abusive treatment is standard practice. Waterboarding is one of many tactics.

Others include beatings, painful hog-tying, prolonged stress positions, electric shocks, sensory deprivation, extreme heat and cold, deafening sounds, and much more.

CCR described prolonged isolation. “Approximately 70%” of detainees “are in solitary confinement or isolation,” it said.

“Virtually none have ever been charged, and most will never be charged or tried.”

“Yet, they remain in ‘super-maximum security confinement’ conditions.” Doing so exceeds what’s psychologically tolerable.

Pentagon authorities won’t acknowledge what’s done. Euphemisms substitute. Prisoners get greater “privacy” and “single-occupancy cells,” they claim. Hell is hell. Sanitizing it doesn’t wash.

Conditions speak for themselves. Cells are small, windowless steel cages without access to natural light or air. Fluorescent lights stay on 24 hours a day. Sleep is impeded.

Attorney Brent Mickum represents Bisher al-Rawi. He’s “slowly but surely, slipping into madness,” he said. He has no human contact. He’s entirely cut off from the outside world. So are most others.

Attorney Clive Stafford Smith said his client smeared feces on his cell walls. When asked why, he couldn’t explain.

Prisoners are zombie-like. They resemble the living dead. Appalling treatment continues out of sight and mind. Media scoundrels say nothing.

CCR explained Guantanamo by the numbers:

Since 2002, an estimated 779 men were detained. Nearly all were Muslims. Another 664 men were transferred from Guantanamo. It now holds 166 indefinitely.

According to US government records, 92% aren’t terrorists. They’re not Al Qaeda fighters. Eighty-six men cleared for release remain detained.

Another 46 are indefinitely held without charge or trial. Washington claims they can neither be released or prosecuted.

Twenty-two or more prisoners were under 18 when captured. Twelve or more fear torture or persecution if returned to their home countries. They’ll remain detained until or unless other nations offer them safe havens.

Ten years or longer reflect how long most men have been held without charge or trial. Nine died in captivity. Two were forcibly sent to Algeria “despite credible fears of abuse.”

No US government officials have been held accountable. None will be. They freely get away with murder, torture, and other unconscionable abuses. They do it out of sight and mind.

Obama authorized it. He’s guilty of gross crimes against humanity. So are other complicit government and Pentagon officials.

Guantanamo remains open. Obama won’t close it. The New York Times tried having it both ways. On November 25, 2012, it headlined “Close Guantanamo Prison.”

Obama promised, it said. He pledged no more torture and abuse. It “was a bold beginning.” It’s unfilled. He continues Bush administration practices. He claims executive power.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Guantanamo “scarcely came up.”

At the same time, NYT editors “trust” he’ll fulfill his pledge. He spurned it for four years. Expect no change ahead.

Jennifer Daskal is Georgetown University adjunct professor. Formerly she was Justice Department counsel to the assistant attorney general. She’s senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch.

On January 10, her Times op-ed headlined “Don’t Close Guantanamo.”

Earlier she favored closure. No longer. She believes “Guantanamo should stay open – at least for the short term.”

Dozens of prisoners can’t be prosecuted, she said. They’re “too dangerous to be transferred or released.” Why she didn’t explain.

She turned international law on its head. She claims they’re “held under rules of war” that permit “detention without charge for the duration of hostilities.”

False! Bush officials called them “unlawful combatants.” They’re now classified “unprivileged enemy belligerents.”

Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Francis Boyle told this writer and others earlier. He said Bush spurned Geneva, constitutional and US statute laws.

He “created an anti-matter of legal nihilism where human beings (including US citizens) can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried in kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism.”

Obama continues the same practices. Lawlessness is official US policy.

Dascal claims “legal authority” permits detaining them. She says Guantanamo today “is a far cry from” 2002. She ignores continued abusive treatment.

She claims most detainees “live in communal facilities where they can eat, pray and exercise together.”

On June 24, 2012, Jimmy Carter headlined “A Cruel and Unusual Record.”

He condemned America’s “widespread abuse of human rights.”

He cited targeted assassinations, indiscriminate drone killings, indefinite detentions without charge, warrantless spying, abusing people based on “their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate,” keeping Guantanamo open, and obtaining confessions by torture.

What Bush authorized, Obama continues. Illegal practices remain policy. Torture is institutionalized. International law is spurned. Constitutional rights don’t matter.

America “abandon(ed) its role as the global champion of human rights,” said Carter. Remaining Guantanamo prisoners “have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom.”

US authorities “revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, (prisoners were) tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers.”

National security priorities prevent defense attorneys from raising these issues responsibly.

“Instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.”

Dascal disagrees. Closing Guantanamo “would do more harm than good,” she claims. Keep it open, she urges. Violating international, constitutional, and US statute laws wasn’t explained.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) headlined “January 11: (National) Day of Action Against Guantanamo.”

“Join us,” it said. “Call on President Obama to fulfill his promise.” Demand he uphold human rights.

“166 men remain detained at Guantanamo.” Most never should have been sent there in the first place.

They’ve been lawlessly held “over ten years without any charge or trial. They must be tried in a fair (civil) court or released. Guantanamo must be shut down.”

At 1:30PM in Washington, activists gathered outside the Supreme Court. They marched past Capitol Hill to the White House.

The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church hosted a 2:30PM interfaith prayer service. Efforts continue to do the right thing. Over 25 organizations participated.

They include CCR, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CloseGuantanamo.Org, Code Pink, Council on American Islamic Relations, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Physicians for Human Rights, Women Against Military Madness, and others.

Obama ignores them. He spurns rule of law principles. He’s defiant. He’s obstructionist.

Keep Gitmo open, he ordered. Torture and other forms of abuse continue out of sight and mind. They reflect official US policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/us-law-prohibits-transferring-guantanamo-prisoners-to-america/US Law Prohibits Transferring Guantanamo Prisoners to America

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Obama in Afghanistan

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by Stephen Lendman

He left Washington Saturday. He arrived in Afghanistan Sunday. It was his fourth visit. He stayed less than four hours.

Earlier trips were in March 2010, December 2010 and May 2012.

Obama addressed US troops. He did so at Bagram Air Base. It houses one of America's notorious torture prisons. 

Dozens of others operate globally. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg.

Bagram is called the Parwan Detention Facility (aka Bagram Theater Internment Facility). 

It's next to Bagram's air field. It was formerly called the Bagram Collection Point.

In mid-2011, it held 1,100 political prisoners. Maximum during Bush years was 600. None have POW status. All are political prisoners. They illegally held.

Abuse continues. It's notorious. It's not reported. It's out of sight and mind. Former detainees describe horrendous treatment. Not far from where Obama spoke. It includes:

  • painful extended period shackling;

  • exposure to extreme heat and cold;

  • abusive treatment while naked, hooded or blindfolded;

  • waterboarding numerous times;

  • isolation in tiny cells;

  • other times in overcrowded ones forcing detainees to sleep in shifts;

  • permanent trauma-creating torture and ill-treatment;

  • severe beatings;

  • continuous blaring noises or music;

  • 24-hour bright light or total darkness;

  • extended sleep deprivation periods;

  • painful stress positions for long periods;

  • being sodomized;

  • denied food, too little, or inedible kinds;

  • painful force-feeding for hunger strikers;

  • prisoners experiencing it call it torture;

  • denied medical care;

  • forced confessions for crimes not committed;

  • hung from steel bars in cells or metal hooks in interrogation rooms for extended periods;

  • kept in tubs of ice water creating hypothermia;

  • threatened with or attacked by dogs;

  • electro-shocking; and

  • other physical and psychological cruel, abusive and degrading treatment.

Investigative Journal Andy Worthington does extensive research on US torture prisons. He co-directed a documentary titled "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo."

One of his many articles is titled "Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List." He discussed foreign prisoners held.

He explained secret Bagram CIA operations. A subsequent "UN Secret Detention Report Ask(ed) 'Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?' "

Obama could end prisoner abuse by executive order. He could free every prisoner illegally held the same way. 

He could order torture prison closures. He could do it straightaway. He ignored Bagram international law violations during his stay.

He addressed about 3,000 US troops. He lied saying "Americans stand in awe of you."

"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan. America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."

"That progress is because of you, and the more than half a million Americans - military and civilian - who've served here in Afghanistan."

(Y)ou are completing our mission…(Y)ou've helped prevent attacks and save American lives back home."

"Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that's because of you."

"We said that we were going to reverse the Taliban's momentum. And so you went on the offensive, driving the Taliban out of its strongholds."

"(J)ust look at the progress that you've made possible. Afghans reclaiming their communities, and more girls returning to school, dramatic improvements in public health and life expectancy and literacy. That's your legacy."

Fact: "Prevent(ing) attacks and sav(ing) American lives back home" is rubbish.

Fact: Afghanistan didn't attack or threaten America.

Fact: Washington's Afghan war had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

Fact: Waging it was lawless.

Fact: No Security Council authorization was gotten.

Fact: No congressional one.

Fact: War was never formally declared.

Fact: No state of war exists.

Fact: It's raged since October 2001.

Fact: It shows no signs of ending.

Fact: It could continue for another decade or longer.

Fact: All post-WW II US wars were lawless.

Fact: America hasn't won a war since WW II.

Fact: Afghanistan is a lost cause.

Fact: Pentagon commanders know it.

Fact: Lt. Col. Daniel Davis' unclassified report and more detailed classified one explained ongoing disastrous conditions.

Fact: America can't win, he said.

Fact: Official statements conceal hard truths.

Fact: Davis visited Afghanistan.

Fact: He witnessed "the absence of success on virtually every level," he said.

Fact: Every area he observed firsthand "all over Afghanistan (showed) the tactical situation was bad to abysmal."

Fact: Taliban forces prevailed for over a decade.

Fact: They do now.

Fact: They're a force to be reckoned with.

Fact: They show no signs of quitting.

Fact: They want US forces and coalition partners out of Afghanistan.

Fact: They want their country back.

Fact: Washington's legacy is criminal.

Fact: 12 and a half years of war left millions dead.

Fact: Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them. 

Fact: Millions of Afghans suffer horrifically.

Fact: More than half of Afghan children suffer severe malnutrition.

Fact: An entire generation is affected.

Fact: Hunger is a national disease.

Fact: Unemployment affects millions.

Fact: Millions live in squalor.

Fact: In deplorable conditions.

Fact: With inadequate shelter, water, health care, and education.

Fact: Millions remain internally or externally displaced.

Fact: Thousands of women and girls continue to be beaten, raped and/or murdered. 

Fact: Humanitarian aid is woefully inadequate.

Fact: One in five children die before age five.

Fact: War claims some.

Fact: Most perish from preventable diseases, malnutrition or both.

Fact: Millions of Afghans are on their own.

Fact: It's hard imagining a more long-suffering people anywhere.

Fact: America abandoned them.

Fact: Obama lied claiming otherwise.

Fact: If hell on earth exists, it's in Afghanistan.

Fact: Coverup and denial don't wash.

Obama called horrific Afghanistan conditions "progress."

"Tomorrow (Monday) is Memorial Day," he said. "(W)e'll pay tribute to all those who’ve laid down their lives for our freedom." 

"And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice…We will honor every single one of them - not just (Monday), but forever."

Memorial Day is commemorated on the last Monday in May. It honors America's war dead. They fought and died in vain.

To benefit America's privileged. To advance its imperium. To make it safe for bankers, war profiteers and other corporate favorites.

Crimes of war, against humanity and genocides are small prices to pay. So is ravaging and destroying one country after another.

Conquering, colonizing, and plundering them. Exploiting their people. 

Claiming humanitarian intervention. Responsibility to protect. Democracy building rubbish.

One Big Lie follows others. Memorial Day warrants special condemnation. It reflects Washington's permanent war policy.

It discards peace as a viable option. It's an American tradition. Notably since WW II. Lincoln's words long ago went unheeded, saying:

"(W)e here resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Imagine inventing enemies. Imagine sending one generation after another of US youths to war for false reasons. 

Imagine destroying them physically and emotionally. Imagine pledging peace while waging war. 

Imagine duplicitous leaders like Obama saying one thing and doing another. He's back home in Washington.

On Wednesday, he'll address West Point cadets. He'll lay out what deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes calls his broad vision "interventionist and internationalist" agenda.

Expect typical Obama demagogic boilerplate. Duplicitous doublespeak. Beginning-to-end rubbish.

A follow-up article will discuss it. US policy won't change. Imperial lawlessness reflects it. 

Expect more of the same. Expect propaganda, political, financial and hot wars to continue. It's the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Defense contractor awards Abu Ghraib torture victims meager $5 million settlement

A board written in Arabic reminds prisoners of their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions, outside Camp Redemption, at the Abu Ghraib jail, on the outskirts of Baghdad, 24 July 2004. (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

A board written in Arabic reminds prisoners of their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions, outside Camp Redemption, at the Abu Ghraib jail, on the outskirts of Baghdad, 24 July 2004. (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

A US contractor responsible for torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has paid 71 former detainees $5.28 million in compensation, a meager amount compared to similar cases in the US.

Between 2003 and 2007, the prisoners were subjected to mock executions, severely beaten, stripped naked, threatened with rape and forced to drink water until vomiting blood.

“Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib,” Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, tells the Associated Press. “We are pleased that this settlement provides some accountability for one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the victims.”

The Virginia-based defense contractor Engility Holdings Inc. was heavily involved in the treatment of the Iraqi detainees and agreed to pay a total of $5.28 million in payments to 71 former inmates because of it during a deal reached last year. Only now, however, has the AP become aware of the details of the settlement.

L-3 Services Inc., a subsidiary of Engility, sent more than 6,000 private translators to Iraq and “permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq,” states the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Greenbelt, Md. in 2008. The company “willfully failed to report L-3 employees’ repeated assaults and other criminal conduct by its employees to the United States or Iraq authorities.”

One inmate says he was subjected to a mock execution, in which contractors pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger for the entertainment of the staffers. Another was knocked unconscious by being repeatedly slammed against a wall. One man says he was stripped naked with his hands and legs chained together, fearing rape. Some of the inmates claim the contractors did indeed rape them, after which they were beaten and left naked for long periods of time.

In 2004, photographs were released picturing naked inmates piled on top of each other, hooded and wired for electric shocks. A military investigation that year discovered 44 incidents of detainee abuse at the prison, but did nothing to stop L-3 Services from working for the federal government.

But it wasn’t until 2008 that a lawsuit was filed against the defense contractor and until 2012 that the victims were compensated. Such compensation is rare: the US Army has been unable to document a single US government payment for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and other defense contractors accused of being involved have refused to make settlements. The Virginia-based company CACI International Inc., which provided interrogators to the US military during the Iraq War, is facing a separate lawsuit by four Iraqis who accused the company’s employees of subjecting them to torture. CACI is taking the case to trial, claiming the “plaintiffs bring claims seeking money damages for their detention and treatment while in the custody of the US military in the midst of a belligerent occupation in Iraq.”

Although monetary compensation in such cases is rare and Engility has been praised for its settlement, the contractor’s payments to the victims are scant in comparison to settlements made in the US. If divided equally, the settlement equates to about $74,000 per detainee. Azmy declined to tell AP how the money was distributed between the victims.

But in the US, victims of mistreatment are often awarded hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in compensation. The wrongful arrest of 55-year-old Doug Miller and his 30-year-old son in Palm Beach County, Fl., ended up in a $600,000 payment. An elderly couple in Baltimore received $500,000 for being falsely arrested for kidnapping their grandchild.

Settlements for prison abuse in the US have been even higher: an inmate who had his head slammed against a cement wall by a corrections officer in a New Jersey state prison received a $1.5 million settlement for his mistreatment. In Virginia, nine women who sued a state prison for sexual harassment were paid $10 million – more than $1 million each.

Even in cases where hundreds of prisoners are involved, the compensation numbers are higher than those paid to the Iraqi victims. The state of Michigan paid $100 million to about 500 female prisoners who said they were sexually assaulted by prison guards, which equates to about $200,000 per victim, if divided equally.

The average $74,000 compensation for each Abu Ghraib victim of rape, torture, death threats and physical harm seems almost inconsiderable in comparison, especially given the high levels of torture the Iraqi prisoners were subjected to. And many more Iraqi victims of abuses are unlikely to receive any sort of compensation at all.

“No court in the United States has allowed aliens – detained on the battlefield or in the course of postwar occupation and military operations by the US military – to seek damages for their detention,” CACI told the federal court.

Defense contractor awards Abu Ghraib torture victims meager $5 million settlement

A board written in Arabic reminds prisoners of their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions, outside Camp Redemption, at the Abu Ghraib jail, on the outskirts of Baghdad, 24 July 2004. (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

A board written in Arabic reminds prisoners of their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions, outside Camp Redemption, at the Abu Ghraib jail, on the outskirts of Baghdad, 24 July 2004. (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

A US contractor responsible for torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has paid 71 former detainees $5.28 million in compensation, a meager amount compared to similar cases in the US.

Between 2003 and 2007, the prisoners were subjected to mock executions, severely beaten, stripped naked, threatened with rape and forced to drink water until vomiting blood.

“Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib,” Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, tells the Associated Press. “We are pleased that this settlement provides some accountability for one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the victims.”

The Virginia-based defense contractor Engility Holdings Inc. was heavily involved in the treatment of the Iraqi detainees and agreed to pay a total of $5.28 million in payments to 71 former inmates because of it during a deal reached last year. Only now, however, has the AP become aware of the details of the settlement.

L-3 Services Inc., a subsidiary of Engility, sent more than 6,000 private translators to Iraq and “permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq,” states the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Greenbelt, Md. in 2008. The company “willfully failed to report L-3 employees’ repeated assaults and other criminal conduct by its employees to the United States or Iraq authorities.”

One inmate says he was subjected to a mock execution, in which contractors pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger for the entertainment of the staffers. Another was knocked unconscious by being repeatedly slammed against a wall. One man says he was stripped naked with his hands and legs chained together, fearing rape. Some of the inmates claim the contractors did indeed rape them, after which they were beaten and left naked for long periods of time.

In 2004, photographs were released picturing naked inmates piled on top of each other, hooded and wired for electric shocks. A military investigation that year discovered 44 incidents of detainee abuse at the prison, but did nothing to stop L-3 Services from working for the federal government.

But it wasn’t until 2008 that a lawsuit was filed against the defense contractor and until 2012 that the victims were compensated. Such compensation is rare: the US Army has been unable to document a single US government payment for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and other defense contractors accused of being involved have refused to make settlements. The Virginia-based company CACI International Inc., which provided interrogators to the US military during the Iraq War, is facing a separate lawsuit by four Iraqis who accused the company’s employees of subjecting them to torture. CACI is taking the case to trial, claiming the “plaintiffs bring claims seeking money damages for their detention and treatment while in the custody of the US military in the midst of a belligerent occupation in Iraq.”

Although monetary compensation in such cases is rare and Engility has been praised for its settlement, the contractor’s payments to the victims are scant in comparison to settlements made in the US. If divided equally, the settlement equates to about $74,000 per detainee. Azmy declined to tell AP how the money was distributed between the victims.

But in the US, victims of mistreatment are often awarded hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in compensation. The wrongful arrest of 55-year-old Doug Miller and his 30-year-old son in Palm Beach County, Fl., ended up in a $600,000 payment. An elderly couple in Baltimore received $500,000 for being falsely arrested for kidnapping their grandchild.

Settlements for prison abuse in the US have been even higher: an inmate who had his head slammed against a cement wall by a corrections officer in a New Jersey state prison received a $1.5 million settlement for his mistreatment. In Virginia, nine women who sued a state prison for sexual harassment were paid $10 million – more than $1 million each.

Even in cases where hundreds of prisoners are involved, the compensation numbers are higher than those paid to the Iraqi victims. The state of Michigan paid $100 million to about 500 female prisoners who said they were sexually assaulted by prison guards, which equates to about $200,000 per victim, if divided equally.

The average $74,000 compensation for each Abu Ghraib victim of rape, torture, death threats and physical harm seems almost inconsiderable in comparison, especially given the high levels of torture the Iraqi prisoners were subjected to. And many more Iraqi victims of abuses are unlikely to receive any sort of compensation at all.

“No court in the United States has allowed aliens – detained on the battlefield or in the course of postwar occupation and military operations by the US military – to seek damages for their detention,” CACI told the federal court.

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Despotic Saudi Regime Lobbies to Chair Human Rights Council

Despotic Saudi Regime Lobbies to Chair Human Rights Council

by Stephen Lendman

It's one of the world's most repressive states - a blight on humanity, a cancer in a part of the world known for despotic regimes.

Its human rights record is horrific by any standard. Fundamental rights don't exist.

State terror is official policy. Democracy is strictly prohibited. Torture and physical abuse are commonplace. So are public whippings, beheadings and hangings.

Due process and judicial fairness don't exist. Thousands of political prisoners languish in its gulag under deplorable conditions.

Abuse of power is extreme. So is massive corruption and lack of transparency. Inequality is institutionalized. Independent media don't exist. Nor do labor rights.

Islam is the state religion. No other is tolerated. All Saudis are required by law to be Muslims. Failure to comply is considered apostasy - a capital offense.

Capital punishment is standard practice for non-violent crimes - including adultery, armed robbery, drug smuggling, kidnapping, witchcraft, sorcery, and apostasy. 

Absolute monarchal rule tolerates no criticism or opposition. It's despotic, lawless and brutal - a police state by any standard.

Riyadh is Washington's main Arab regional ally. One rogue state supports another.

The UN Human Rights Council includes 47 Member States. Many comprise a rogue's gallery of major human rights abusers - including Saudi Arabia, America, Algeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

Membership is apportioned regionally as follows:

African nations - 13 seats

Asia/Pacific: 13 seats

Latin America and Caribbean - 8 seats

Western Europe and other states - 7 seats

Eastern Europe - 6 seats.

Members serve for three years. They're not eligible for immediate reelection after serving two consecutive terms.

General Assembly Res. 60/251 (April 2006) states:

"(T)he Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner…" 

"(T)he Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon..."

Most often HRC mocks what it's mandated to support. It functions as a US imperial tool - notably siding with Washington-backed takfiri terrorists waging war on sovereign Syria. Failing to condemn US-orchestrated/Saudi-led terror-bombing of Yemen.

Reports indicate Riyadh wants to chair the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Its membership alone is a travesty of justice.

One human rights group called letting Riyadh head the HRC an "abomination, and cynical by a nation that beheads people in public squares."

It's like letting a serial killer become police chief or a pyromaniac being appointed fire commissioner.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticized Riyadh's human rights record - including its treatment of blogger Raif Badawi.

He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years imprisonment and possible capital punishment -  for freely expressing his views.

Wallstrom said "(o)ne must protest against what are (punitive) medieval methods." 

Riyadh responded by refusing to issue business visas to Swedish nationals or renew current ones. It tolerates no criticism of its horrific practices - even from a high-ranking diplomat like Wallstrom.

In January she tweeted: Riyadh's "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression has to be stopped."

Independent human rights groups condemn Riyadh's record as one of the world's most egregious for good reason.

Human rights in the Kingdom don't exist. Saudi Arabia is included in HRC's Asian group. One of its member states is next in line for HRC's chairmanship.

Reports indicate Riyadh is lobbying intensively to get it. Washington is supportive. US pressure may get other Asian nations to back what demands rejection.

Rogue state HRC chairmanship would mock what it claims to stand for. Riyadh's membership alone lacks legitimacy. 

Appointing it head of the human rights group would make the organization a laughing stock. Don't bet against it happening.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Poland pays compensation to ex-inmates of CIA torture sites on its territory

Published time: May 15, 2015 19:36

Szymany airport in Poland, allegedly used for covert prisoner transportation by the CIA in 2003 Poland.(AFP Photo / Piotr Placzkowski )

Warsaw has paid €230,000 to two former inmates of CIA "black site" prisons, which used to be on Poland's territory - a move that has raised questions in the country.

"Poland has fulfilled the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights," Deputy Foreign Minister Rafał Trzaskowski said on Thursday, RIA Novosti reports. He said that money had been sent to one victim's bank account. The other's share had been transferred to his court deposit, as he is under international sanctions.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in July 2014 that Poland must pay compensation to the two terror suspects: Palestinian Abu Zubaydah and Saudi Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who were held and tortured in CIA-run detention centers in Poland between 2002 and 2003. The court set this Saturday as the deadline for the payments.

The two men are now being held in America's Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. They are to receive €100,000 each for psychological damage, plus Zubaydah is due an additional €30,000 in court expenses.

READ MORE: Renewed suspicions US was ‘lobbied’ to leave UK out of CIA torture report

Warsaw's decision to pay up raised questions in Poland. Opposition lawmaker Witold Waszczykowski, cited by AP, said: “I think we shouldn’t pay, we shouldn’t respect this judgment. This is a case not between us and them – it’s between them and the United States government.”

However, no US officials have been held accountable to date. The only other related ruling handed down by the European Court of Human Rights was to Macedonia. In 2012, it was ordered to pay €60,000 for the detention of a Lebanese-German, who was subjected to abuse by the CIA on trumped up terror suspicions.

Poland has been investigating allegations of secret CIA detention centers or "black sites" on its territory since 2008. In December 2014, Poland's former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski officially admitted that a secret CIA prison had existed at an airbase, where terror suspects were brought for torture and interrogation. He insisted, though, that Warsaw had no idea about the abuse happening at the site.

Kwaśniewski's statement came on the heels of a US Senate committee report on CIA activities. In August the same year, Barack Obama admitted for the first time that torture had indeed taken place in American custody after the 9/11 attacks.

READ MORE: 'Crimes and Impunity': Amnesty slams US failure to act on torture report

The authorities should have expected to be held accountable sooner or later, criminology professor Ben Davis told RT. "The only people who have been betrayed in all of this are the ordinary people in all of these countries," he said. "The ordinary citizens who count on their governments not to torture people, to comply with their obligations in international law or domestic law."

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Priority Saudi Targets in Yemen: Civilian Men, Women, Children and Infants

Priority Saudi Targets in Yemen: Civilian Men, Women, Children and Infants

by Stephen Lendman

Saudi Arabia is a ruthless dictatorship. It's a rogue terror state. It brutalizes its own people. 

It punishes anyone challenging its rule with arbitrary arrests and imprisonment under horrific gulag conditions.

Torture and physical abuse are commonplace. So are public whippings and beheadings.

Fair public trials, due process and judicial fairness don't exist. Anyone charged by state authorities is automatically guilty by accusation. Harsh treatment follows.

Most Saudi prisoners are political ones or for offenses too minor to matter.

Human and civil rights are nonexistent. Despotic rule governs virtually all aspects of daily life.

After Israel, Saudi Arabia is Washington's main Middle East ally. Three rogue states partner in each other's high crimes - notably against Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Saudis actively recruit, fund and arm takfiri death squads against Bashar al-Assad's popularly elected government and Yemeni Houthi rebels unwilling to accept US-installed despotic rule.

Obama's war against both countries rages. Saudis are reliable axis of evil partners.

Their money and US weapons are responsible for hundreds of thousands of regional deaths - millions including victims of preventable diseases, starvation, overall deprivation and endless violence.

Washington, Israel, Saudis, and allied dictatorships bear full responsibility for regional nightmarish conditions.

Ongoing in Syria into its fifth year with no end of conflict in sight. Raging in Yemen into its 26th day heading for genocidal mass slaughter, destruction and appalling human suffering.

Saudis conducted over 2,300 airstrikes in less than a month of terror-bombing.

Speaking on national television, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said "(i)t's the right of our people to resist (Saudi) aggression and face the aggressor by any means."

Saudis plan "invasion (and) occupation (to) place this country again under its feet and hegemony."

"Our Yemeni people will never give in. (They) will resist in the face of the savage aggression."

Saudis have "no right to interfere" in internal Yemeni affairs. "The political problem is an internal one, and it is up to us to define our future."

"The US is sponsoring the attacks. The US is directing the attacks against Yemen."

US "criminal hands" are killing Yemenis. America, Saudi Arabia and Israel are partners in war on its people.

Washington chooses targets to strike. Israel is actively involved.

Saudis claim they plan to "restore Yemen to its Arab identity. What kind of Arab identity is this," Houthi asked?

It's to "return Yemen to the Israeli and US identity." It's to let "Al Qaeda seize control of Yemen."

"The Yemeni people have the right and legitimacy to defend" their nation. "Our great people will not surrender. They will stand."

It's the right of all people to resist aggression, he added. He called on Yemenis to unite against a common enemy.

Up to hundreds are being killed or wounded daily across most of the country - by terror-bombing and ground fighting.

Prime Saudi targets include civilian neighborhoods, refugee camps, farming areas, hospitals, schools, mosques, power facilities, food storage ones, and other nonmilitary related sites - ones chosen by Washington to attack.

On Sunday, Oxfam said Saudis terror-bombed its Saada governorate food storage facilities. Its country director Grace Ommer issued a statement saying:

"This is an absolute outrage, particularly when one considers that we have shared detailed information with the coalition on the locations of our offices and storage facilities."

Saudi strategy includes starving Yemenis to death, depriving them of electricity, water and vitally needed medical care.

It's denying them essentials to survive. It's destroying an entire country to control it.

It's partnering with US imperial ruthlessness. On Sunday, Red Crescent Society representative Abdollah Maboud al-Shokri accused Saudis of using lethal chemical agents.

"We will display a video on the death of tens of children who died after inhaling poisonous gases," he said.

Expect increasing Saudi use of banned toxic agents as terror-bombing continues. Washington, other Western powers and rogue regional states encourage it.

Media scoundrels report nothing. They're silent about horrific US-sponsored war crimes. Noncombatant men, women and children suffer most of all.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei condemned Saudi child killers, saying:

"We feel hatred and disgust for those who attack the civilians, women and children and believe that they are not aware of Islam and human conscience, but we don’t meddle in other countries' affairs."

He blamed Washington and other Western states for involvement in what's ongoing - including Saudi, Egyptian and US warships enforcing blockade.

Ships carrying food, medical supplies and fuel can't access Yemeni ports. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure targets were destroyed.

Grinding poverty and deprivation during normal times are greatly exacerbated under wartime conditions.

A humanitarian disaster increases daily. Dire shortages of everything exist. Some hospitals can't function properly for lack of electricity and vital medical supplies.

Yemen's capital Sanaa resembles a ghost town. Usually congested streets are empty. One Yemeni spoke for others saying "(w)e're suffering terribly." 

Obama bears full responsibility. His rogue partners share it. Expect the worst to come.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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Fascist Killers

Fascist Killers

by Stephen Lendman

Three nations among others stand out: America, Israel and Ukraine.

America's deplorable history reflects barbarism writ large. Killing civilians is longstanding policy. Doing so violates core international law.

It prohibits collective punishment. It forbids attacking noncombatants. Targets unrelated to military necessity are strictly off-limits. 

Lawless attacks constitute crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Committing them reflects official US policy. It's been so throughout America's sordid history.

It's guilty as charged. Its drone program alone is damning. It reflects out-of-control state terror.

Attacks are indiscriminate. Mostly noncombatant civilians are killed. A 2012 "Living Under Drones" report explained.

Stanford University's International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (SU) and New York University School of Law's Global Justice Clinic (NYU) jointly prepared it.

Credible firsthand documentation was compiled. It "present(ed) (clear) evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of" Obama's drone-strike policy.

So-called benefits don't exist. Mostly noncombatant civilians are harmed. Men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm are murdered in cold blood.

"Living Under Drones" exposed what official accounts suppress.

US imperial wars killed millions of civilians. Indiscriminate mass murder reflects longstanding US policy. 

March 19 marked the 10th anniversary of Washington's Iraq war. Waging it destroyed the cradle of civilization.

It's one of history's greatest crimes. It followed Gulf War devastation and punishing sanctions. 

They caused about 1.5 million Iraqi deaths. Most were young children. Up to 7,000 died monthly. 

Former UN humanitarian coordinator Dennis Halliday resigned in protest. He refused to be part of what he called "genocide."

Weeks of so-called "Operation Iraqi Freedom" destroyed virtually everything needed for normal functioning.

Terror bombings and ground assaults damaged or demolished targets unrelated to military necessity.

They included power plants, dams, water purification facilities, sewage treatment and disposal systems, telephone and other communications, hospitals, schools, mosques, residential neighborhoods, factories and private businesses, government buildings, historical sites and much more.

The region's most developed country was systematically destroyed. The cradle of civilization no longer exists. Dystopian hell replaced it.

Millions of Iraqis suffer horrifically. They struggle daily to survive. Their nation remains a cauldron of violence and instability. 

US installed stooge governance remains. So-called elections are farcical when held. Democracy is pure fantasy. 

Crimes of war and against humanity continue. Iraq is a virtual free-fire zone. Washington bears full responsibility. Obama continues what Bush began.

Hegemons operate this way. Fascist regimes give no quarter. America represents the worst of imperial barbarism.

Conquest, domination, colonization and plundering nations for profit matter most. Millions of human lives lost attest to Washington's ruthlessness. 

They're inconsequential. They're considered a small price to pay. Coverup and denial suppress the worst of US policy.

America's human rights record is appalling. It's by far the world's worst. Every imaginable crime and then some was committed. 

They continue out-of-control. They're largely out of sight and mind. They're unreported.

Torture is sanctioned. Peace and stability are verboten. Permanent war is official policy. So is global state terror.

America operates the world's largest gulag. Thousands of political prisoners fill it. Global torture prisons supplement it.

Crime bosses make policy. Monied interests control them. New World Order ruthlessness reflects official policy. Rule of law principles don't matter. Washington rules alone apply.

Israel operates the same way. So-called "Dahiya Doctrine" lawlessness is official policy. It's named after a Beirut suburb. 

It reflects how all Israeli wars are waged. Former IDF Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot explained earlier, saying:

"What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on." 

"We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction." 

"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities). They are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."

Terror bombings target civilians. They're murdered in cold blood. 
Israel's preemptive 2006 Lebanon war horrific. Weeks of slaughter, destruction, mass displacement and human misery followed.

Over 1,000 died. One-fourth of Lebanese people fled for their lives. Terror bombings were merciless.

They destroyed or damaged ports, Beirut International Airport, roads, bridges, other infrastructure, schools, hospitals, power stations, commercial sites, factories, dams, civilian neighborhoods, government buildings, mosques, churches, radio and TV stations, an orphanage, Sidon's refugee camp and other non-military targets.

Jiyeh’s utility plant south of Beirut was struck. Doing so caused massive oil spillage. Over 90 miles of coastal waters were polluted. 

Biodiversity was damaged. Heightened cancer risk followed. Many thousands of Lebanese remain vulnerable.

A land, sea and air siege was imposed. Illegal weapons were used. They included depleted uranium, chemical agents, as well as white phosphorous bombs and shells. They burn flesh to the bone.

So-called thermobaric bombs were dropped. They contain polymer-bonded or solid fuel-air explosives. They penetrate buildings, underground shelters and tunnels. 

Their blast pressure sucks oxygen out of affected areas. It horrifically affects people in them. It’s a terror weapon designed to kill and destroy monstrously.

Israel's December 2008/January 2009 Gaza war replicated Lebanon atrocities. Appalling crimes of war and against humanity were committed.

Israel did so with impunity. Goldstone Commission findings were damning. They showed clear "evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law…"

They said Israeli "actions amount(ed) to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity." Indisputable evidence explained.

Over 1,400 Palestinians died. They were murdered in cold blood. Roads, bridges, other infrastructure, residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, mosques, public buildings, factories, Gaza's sole power plant, police stations, other structures and facilities were damaged or destroyed.

Israel's lawless siege prevents proper reconstruction. So do repeated air, ground and sea attacks. 

They inflict more death and destruction. Children are affected most. Longterm trauma persists.

World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. Doing so lets Israel get away with mass murder. Committing it is official Israeli policy. Unaccountability follows every time.

Ukraine represents America's latest imperial adventurism. Democratic governance was destroyed. Illegitimate coup-appointed fascists replaced it.

They're committing the unthinkable. They're waging war on their own people. 

They're using tanks, artillery, mortars, APCs, helicopter gunships other heavy weapons, and toxic chemicals against lightly armed Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.

They're willfully murdering unarmed civilians. They're doing it daily. The May 2 Odessa massacre killed around 300 defenseless city residents. 

Doing so reflects how far they'll go. It suggests much worse to follow. Washington endorses their worst barbarism. 

Orders come straight from the White House. No-holds-barred death and destruction was OK'd. Tyrants operate this way. One fascist regime supports another.

Washington blamed victims for their own deaths. It blames Russia for its crimes. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki consistently turns truth on its head. She lies for power. 

She suppresses what people most need to know. She does it in regular press briefings. She substitutes misinformation Big Lies for vital truths.

On Friday, she outrageously "condemned the outbreak of violence caused by pro-Russian separatists…in Mariupol…"

Fact: Kiev putschists bear full responsibility.

Fact: They acted on direct orders from Washington.

Fact: They murdered around 20 civilians in cold blood.

Fact: They injured many others.

Fact: They violated core international law provisions.

Fact: They operate with impunity.

Fact: They likely plan much greater bloodbaths.

Fact: Eastern Ukrainian self-defense forces aren't separatists.

Fact: They're not terrorists.

Fact: They're federalist supporters.

Fact: They're freedom fighters.

Fact: They reject US-installed Kiev fascist putschists.

Fact: They want local autonomy.

Fact: They're Ukraine's best and bravest.

Fact: They fighting for rights everyone deserves.

Fact: They merit worldwide support.

Fact: Kiev putschists have no legitimacy.

Fact: They demand universal condemnation.

It bears repeating. Fascist regimes operate this way. America is by far the worst. Kiev putschists serve US interests. 

They do so at the expense of their own people. Exploiting them ruthlessly is planned. So is letting Western corporations plunder Ukraine's resources. IMF diktats demand it.

War on Eastern Ukraine continues. Mass slaughter may follow. Bloodbath conditions promise much worse ahead. 

It bears repeating. Hegemons operate this way. Proxy stooges serve their interests. One fascist regime supports another. 

Longstanding US policy reflects its dark side. It shows America's true face. It exposes the depths of its depravity. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

A Final Comment

Jaime Lopez and Dallas Peavy endured weeks of political imprisonment. They're US citizens. 

From March 14 through April 22, they were held lawlessly in Djibouti. They committed no crimes. They're uncharged.

US consular officials are complicit with Djiboutian authorities. They want Lopez/Peavy abuse kept under wraps. They want Congress US media kept uninformed.

On Saturday, Lopez emailed this writer. He asked for help. He explained what happened. 

He detailed how grievously he and Peavy were treated. He explained:

"US embassy (officials) provided derogatory written and verbal information to US military base (Camp Lemonier)" authorities.

Doing so got its commander "to declare us to be persona non-grata at the base." Misinformation claimed "Mr. Peavy (was) wanted by the FBI."

US consular officials hold Lopez's passport. They won't return it. Both men committed no crimes. They want to go home.

They're prevented from doing so. They remain effectively imprisoned.

US consular officials lied. They claimed "they are no longer involved in the legal matter," said Lopez.

Even though both men are uncharged. US citizens warrant consular protection. Their fundamental rights were violated. 

It bears repeating. Washington is complicit with Djiboutian authorities.

It's acting against the welfare of two of its citizens. It doesn't give a damn how they're treated. Lopez emailed this writer for help.

He and Peavy are two among countless victims of America's contempt for fundamental human rights. They're trapped against their will in Djibouti. 

They can't get out. They can't go home. They're stuck where they don't want to be. 

Consular officials haven't done a thing to help. Whether things get resolved appears unlikely short-term. Both men remain in limbo.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Mass Hunger Striking for Justice

Mass Hunger Striking for Justice

by Stephen Lendman

Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israel's gulag. Hundreds are detained administratively. 

They're uncharged. They committed no crimes. Many are held longterm. Some are released and rearrested.

Prolonged arbitrary detention breaches international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

1. "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention." 

"No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law."

2. "Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him."

4. "Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful."

Arbitrary administrative detentions violate international laws, standards and norms. Israeli abuse of power is longstanding.

Four Israeli entities have authorizing power:

  • its Israeli Security Agency (ISA);

  • military commanders;

  • military prosecutor's office; and

  • military judges adjudicating cases.

ISA or police interrogate detainees. Military commanders decide on whether to hold them and for how long.

Judges have final say. Each order permits three or six month detentions. They can be indefinitely renewed. They can last years. Potentially forever.

Innocent Palestinians suffer grievous Israeli injustice. On April 24, 186 administrative detainee began hunger striking for justice.

A press release called it the only way possible for legitimate rights. Prisoners urged widespread public support.

They demand their unconditional release. International law supports them.

On April 24, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association headlined "Mass Hunger-Strike Launched by Palestinian 'Administrative Detainees,' " saying:

"All those involved are being held under administrative detention, which is a procedure whereby detainees are held without charge or trial."

Palestinian hunger strikers reflect uncommon courage. Mass willingness to die for justice is unprecedented. Many hunger struck before en masse. In 2012, about 2,000 political prisoners were involved.

In May 2012, Israeli promises were made. They were systematically broken. They included: 

  • ending administrative detentions except under special circumstances;

  • ending solitary confinement with 72 hours;

  • ending family visitation bans;

  • revoking the punitive Shalit Law; it toughened prison conditions; and

  • improved conditions overall.

Israeli promises aren't worth the paper they're written. Key ones Palestinians demanded were violated straightaway.

Ofer, Megiddo and Naqab Prison detainees hunger stuck. Plans suggest escalating it if key demands aren't met.

Strikers want long denied justice. They want administrative detentions ended. They want current ones limited to one 3 - 6 month extension only.

Israel's Prison Service responded harshly. Strikers were isolated. They're held in tents. They're uncharged. They're untried. 

They're detained on secret nonexistent evidence. Defense counsel can't access it. Denying them violates fundamental international law. Israel does it with impunity.

Some detainees spend years in prison. They're never told why. Since June 1967, tens of thousands of Palestinians were administratively held.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, over 800,000 were lawlessly imprisoned since June 1967 overall. Around 5,000 are currently held.

"Administrative Detention is the 'unknown enemy' which the detainees face, as it is a punishment without a charge, without an indictment," said the Ministry.

"Administrative detainees are held without trial. Neither they or their lawyers are allowed to defend themselves, simply because they face what Israel calls a 'secret file' that no one is allowed to see."

"Each arbitrary Administrative Detention order is usually 1 to 6 months, issued by military commanders in the occupied Palestinian territories." 

"Such orders target both men and women of different ages, young and old, including physicians, engineers, professors, teachers, journalists and elected legislators and officials."

"Such orders are repeatedly renewed and, in many cases, just as the detainees are about to step out of prison, they are informed of a new order, often spending months and years under such orders without even knowing when, or if, they will ever be freed."

Addameer is clear and unequivocal saying it "holds the Israeli authorities solely responsible for the health of all hunger strikers." 

It "demands that all contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention pressure Israel to immediately release all administrative detainees and cease the use of administrative detention." 

It "calls on global civil society to mobilize without delay in support of the striking detainees and 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons."

A Final Comment

"Stop administrative detention(s)," says Addameer. "Join (its) Global End Administrative Detention Campaign!"

"Addameer calls on activists and people of conscience to stand in solidarity with all political prisoners and join Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Organization's upcoming global campaign against administrative detention."

Around 5,000 "Palestinians are currently detained by Israel; 10 of them women, 193 of them children, and (nearly 200) under administrative detention, a decrepit policy that Israel uses to hold Palestinians on secret information indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial."

"Not only are these prisoners held arbitrarily, but Israel's use of administrative detention violates several international standards, such as deporting Palestinians from the occupied territory to Israel, denying regular family visits and failing to take into account the best interests of child detainees as required under international law."

"We need your support to break their chains and the silence on administrative detention."

"Today, Israel has outsourced security for prisons where Palestinians are held to a British-Danish company named G4S." 

"Along with the Israeli Prison Service, G4S is responsible for the harsh conditions the prisoners faced during the historic 2012 hunger strikes that thousands of Palestinians participated in, including two hunger strikers that neared death in protest of their arbitrary detention, Khader Adnan and Hana Al-Shalabi." 

"G4S is also complicit in Israel’s detention of nearly one-third of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, and for dozens of human rights defenders being arrested every year for participating in popular resistance."

"The government of Israel should release all administrative detainees, and in the meantime, all administrative detainees must be granted their rights in accordance with international law."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

by Stephen Lendman

Obama represents the worst of rogue governance. On April 10, he honored Lyndon Johnson. One war criminal paid tribute to another.

He spoke at his Austin-based Presidential Library and Museum. He did so commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

His words rang hollow. The New York Times called his speech "stirr(ing)." It stopped short of denouncing his duplicity. More on what he said below.

America's human and civil rights record is by far the world's worst. No other nation matches its lawlessness. None approach it.

It's by far the world's most unprincipled. It's responsible for virtually every crime imaginable and then some.

It's police state than democracy. It's more battleground than homeland.

Lawless FBI, CIA, NSA, FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol, and other federal operatives work jointly with state and local authorities. 

They target fundamental freedoms. They harm their own people.

Anyone can be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for any reason or none at all. US citizens at home or abroad can be murdered. Obama can order them killed by presidential diktat.

Others can be arrested and detained. They can be held indefinitely. They can be thrown into military dungeons. They can be denied civil justice. They can be held uncharged.

Innocence is no defense. State terrorism is official policy at home and abroad. Police states operate this way. America is by far the world's worst.

Freedom, human rights, and other democratic values don't matter. Supporting right over wrong is hazardous. 

Challenging Washington's right to dominate globally risks persecution or death. America is unfit to live in. Things go from bad to worse.

Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Rogue governance defines his agenda. Humanity may not survive on his watch.

On July 2, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Officially it's called:

"An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes."

It was more feel good than do good. Objectives fell short of promise. They were more hype than reality. They weren't achieved. Things today are worse than ever in modern times.

On June 11, 1963, Jack Kennedy called for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public…"

He included "hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments." He urged "greater protection for the right to vote."

Segregationists kept legislation from being enacted. Bottling it up in committee works as intended.

Kennedy's November 22, 1963 assassination changed things. Johnson was a former Senate Majority Leader. He was a powerful mover and shaker.

He wielded bully pulpit power as president. He supported civil and voting rights legislation. On November 27, 1963, he told Congress:

"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."

Enactment of legislation he sought followed. Designed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin fell woefully short.

Powers enacted were weak. They remain so. Equal protection under law is more fantasy than real. It's a figure of speech.

Millions of persons of color bear witness. Muslims in America at the wrong time know the sting of US injustice. They're persecuted for praying to the wrong God. Constitutional protections don't help.

Johnson's July 2, 1964 statement rang hollow. He called signing the Civil Rights act a "proud triumph."

"Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom," he said. 

They died for imperial lawlessness. More than ever today. Johnson didn't explain. Nor presidents following him.

"Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities," he said. For America's rich, well-born and able alone. 

"Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders," he added. 

It's selectively given. America has the best democracy money can buy.

"We believe that all men are created equal," said Johnson. "Yet many are denied equal treatment."

The vast majority do today. A select few benefit. They do so at the expense of all others.

"We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights," said Johnson. 

"Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights." Overwhelming numbers enjoy few today. 

Freedom is an endangered species. It's disappearing in plain sight. Tyranny is on a fast track toward replacing it. International, constitutional and US statute laws don't matter.

Democracy is pure fantasy. A year after civil rights legislation passed, the Voting Rights Act followed. On August 6, 1965, Johnson signed it into law.

It nominally supports 15th Amendment protections. They prohibit federal or state governments from denying citizens voting rights based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

On February 3, 1870, it was ratified. Fulfillment didn't follow promise. Nor from the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

US voting rights were constitutionally flawed by design. America's founders enfranchised adult white male property owners only.

Laborers were excluded. So were women. They were considered homemakers and child-bearers alone. Slaves were called property, not people. 

Native Americans, free Black men, apprentices, felons, and persons considered incompetent were denied.

From inception to today, US elections were never open, free and fair. Big money controls them. Electoral fraud is rife.

Things are pre-scripted. Voters have no say. Secrecy and back-room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process.

Candidates are pre-selected. Monied interests own them. Key outcomes are predetermined. America is a one-party state.

Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference separates them.

Independent candidates are shut out. Media scoundrels ignore them. 

Issues mattering most are unaddressed. Horse race journalism and trivia substitute.

Millions of Americans are disenfranchised. Criminal records alone exclude many. Effort to suppress minority voters are rife.

Half of eligible voters opt out. They do so because interests they most care about go unaddressed. 

Because candidates from either party don't care. Because corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic voting machines are rigged.

They're programmed using secret software. They're easy to manipulate. They steal elections.

They provide no receipts. Excluding them prevents vetting. Opponents end up with voter choices. Losers are declared winners.

Partisan politics serves privileged elites. Democracy is pure illusion. It's a figure of speech. It bears repeating. Americans get the best one money can buy. 

Supreme Court rulings affirmed it. One dollar = one vote. Deep pockets cast many. It's the American way. It shams the right way.

Commemorating civil rights legislation ignores today's deplorable conditions. Duplicitous Obama rhetoric highlighted the disgraceful state of the nation. He called expressing them "a singular honor."

Doors "swung open for" him, he said. "That's why I'm standing here today," he added. 

"…I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts." He spoke at the end of a three-day summit. It commemorated civil rights law. Carter, Clinton and GW Bush spoke earlier. 

None connect to popular struggles. Jim Crow never touched their lives. Human and civil rights eroded on their watch. 

So did other fundamental freedoms. They did nothing to prevent it. They support wealth, power and privilege. Ordinary people don't count. People of color least of all.

Clinton signed the repressive 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law. It violates constitutional protections. 

It compromises habeas rights. It limits judicial relief. It assured more capital punishment for innocent victims. 

Nearly always, people of color, Muslims, or others among society's most disadvantaged are affected.

Clinton lied calling AEDPA "an important step forward in the federal government's continuing efforts to combat terrorism."

Its enactment had nothing whatsoever to do with it. International or homegrown terrorism is a ruse.

Clinton said he requested legislation after Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, a massive explosion destroyed its downtown Murrah Federal Building.

It killed 168 people. Hundreds more were injured. A 16-block area was affected. Over 300 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Elgin Air Force Base's Armament Wright Laboratory studied the incident. No single truck bomb caused it. 

Former director/explosives and ordnance expert/(Ret.) Brig. General Benton K. Partin was in charge. His report was damning. In part it said:

"Indeed, a careful examination of photographs showing the collapsed column bases reveal a failure mode produced by (internally installed) demolition charges and not by a blast from (a) truck bomb" as claimed.

Additional forensic evidence showed other devices were involved. Official reports suppressed what happened. 

Lies substituted for truth. It's longstanding US practice. So-called terror plots are state-sponsored. 9/11 is Exhibit A.

Bush administration police state laws followed. Civil and human rights were targeted. They were eviscerated.

Patriot Act legislation alone gutted Fifth and 14th Amendment due process rights.

First Amendment ones eroded. Anyone can be wrongfully accused. Prosecutions can claim membership in, association with or support for so-called "undesirable groups."

Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures no longer exist. Unchecked surveillance was authorized.

Powers include accessing personal financial, medical and other records. So-called "sneak and peak" searchers are OK.

"Delayed notice" warrants were approved. Warrantless searches became standard practice.

So were roving wiretaps, email and text message tracking, as well as Internet and telecommunications monitoring.

Prosecutions include secret evidence withheld from defense counsel. It's officially OK. It's common police state practice.

Guilt by accusation follows. For the first time, so-called "domestic terrorism" became a federal crime.

Virtually none exists. Numerous innocent victims were charged. They languish unjustly in America's gulag. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other political prisoners do so.

Patriot Act legislation began things. Other harsh measures followed. Homeland Security is America's Gestapo. 

It operates ruthlessly. It does so extrajudicially. It targets innocent victims. It lies calling them terrorists.

Military commission legislation gutted civil protections. It grants extraordinary power to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged terrorists extrajudicially.

It legalized torture. Bush made it official US policy. It continues under Obama. He exceeded the worst of all his predecessors.

He presides over a repressive police state apparatus. Big Brother watches everyone. Mass surveillance is official US policy.

Fake war on terror persists. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor democratic values. Human and civil liberty violations are rife.

Administration policies are the most secretive in US history. Whistleblowers are ruthlessly targeted. Exposing government lawlessness was criminalized.

So is protesting for fundamental constitutional rights. Tyranny is official US policy. Executive diktats can declare martial law. 

Constitutional law can be suspended. It can be abolished altogether. Federal troops can be deployed against ordinary people.

Peaceful protests are endangered. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation authorized indefinite detentions. 

Anyone can be held without charge or trial. Solely based on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all is OK.

Presidents have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens. They can target anyone they wish. They can do it extrajudicially.

No one is safe. Due process, civil protections, and judicial fairness don't apply. Abuse of power replaced them. Obama endorses them.

He mocks legitimacy. He governs lawlessly. His duplicitous civil right rhetoric rings hollow. His agenda bears witness to his lies.

'No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson," he said . 

"He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required."

"Those of us who've had the singular privilege to hold the office of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating. And sometimes you're stymied." 

"You're reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions of those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision." 

"But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates, by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be."

Obama's demagoguery wore thin long ago. Duplicity substitutes for truth. His deplorable record speaks for itself. He's a world class con man.

He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. Throughout is tenure, he waged war on freedom.

He's gone all-out to destroy it altogether. He deplores equity and justice for all. He's beholden solely to monied interests.

He supports wealth, power and privilege. He's mindless of popular needs. He trashed human and civil rights throughout his tenure.

He represents the worst of rogue governance. His agenda is state terrorism writ large. His worst crimes go unpunished. 

He's got nearly three more years left in office. Humanity may not survive his onslaught.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Sham Peace Talks Continue

Sham Peace Talks Continue

by Stephen Lendman

They mock legitimate ones. Palestinians agreed to continue them despite zero chance for success. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir once said:

"I would have conducted the autonomy negotiations for 10 years, and in the meantime we would have reached half a million souls in Judea and Samaria."

"I didn't believe there was a majority in favor of a greater land of Israel. But it could have been attained over time." 

"Without such a basis, there would be nothing to stop the establishment of a Palestinian state."

Shamir went all-out to prevent it. So did other Israeli prime ministers before and after him. Netanyahu deplores the notion.

He demands unconditional Palestinian surrender. He wants occupation harshness continued. He wants all valued Judea and Samaria land stolen.

He wants Palestinians denied all rights. Talks with his negotiators reflect the futility of hoping for what won't happen.

UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian human rights Richard Falk condemns Israeli colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. In late March, he said:

"Every increment of enlarging the settlements, or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations."

"To sustain indefinitely an oppressive occupation containing many punitive elements also seems designed to encourage residents to leave Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent annexationist, colonialist and ethnic-cleansing goals of Israel, especially in relation to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

Falk noted "a strong internal Israeli opposition" to Palestinian self-determination. Netanyahu and other right wing extremists mock it. They deplore it. They won't permit it.

Ongoing talks are a charade. They mock legitimacy. They continue. Why Palestinians participate futilely they must explain.

Every stolen dunum of Palestinian land makes viable statehood less likely. Every settlement expansion.

Every demolished Palestinian home. Every ethnically cleansed resident. Every Palestinian blame game victim of Israeli intransigency. 

Every Palestinian murdered. Everyone arrested. Every day without conflict resolution. Every Israeli effort to subvert talks. Every opportunity lost.

Israeli/Palestinian/US negotiators met Monday. Again on Tuesday. Zero progress was made. An unnamed Israeli official said talks will continue. No date for more was set.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied saying: "Gaps remain but both sides are committed to narrow the gaps."

Chasms remain. Nothing whatever was resolved. Nothing will be. Israel won't permit it. Nor Washington. They want unconditional Palestinian surrender.

Israeli rights alone matter. Palestinians are on their own like always. They're blamed for what Israel denies them. Netanyahu and likeminded extremists call wanting to live free on their own land "terrorism."

New York Times editors one-sidedly support Israel. It's longstanding policy. It goes back decades. Jodi Rudoren serves as Jerusalem bureau chief. Her agenda is obscuring reality.

She avoids discussing Israeli torture, targeted assassinations, cold-blooded murder, demolished Palestinian homes, dispossessions, and other lawless practices, as well as unaccountable settler violence and vandalism.

She equates BDS activism with anti-Semitism. It reminds her of Nazi era practices.

At best, she calls Israeli settlements "controversial." International law calls them illegal. No ambiguity exists.

She believes sham peace talks are legitimate. Palestinians share blame for no progress, she claims. On April 7, she discussed political prisoner Marwan Barghouti.

She linked him to peace talks. She lied calling him a convicted "murderer." He faced spurious charges. He's no terrorist. 

He calls himself "a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people." Israel had no right to try him, he said.

He's a political prisoner. Israel lawlessly gave him multiple life sentences plus 40 years. He's Palestine's most popular political figure. 

Why Israel wants him imprisoned and forgotten. In a free, fair, open presidential election, he'd win in a landslide. Palestinians want him freed to participate.

Rudoren ludicrously calls him Palestine's Jonathan Pollard. He's a convicted spy. Barghouti is a framed Palestinian hero.

He challenges Israel responsibly. His political statements circulate. Rudoren ignores Palestinian suffering. She ducks controversial issues.

She ignores key Palestinian voices. She substitutes one-sided Israeli support for full and accurate reporting. 

She blames Palestinians for peace talks failure. She called legitimately applying to 15 UN bodies and treaties "contentious."

Her featured Netanyahu comments suggest she believes he negotiates in good faith. Truth is polar opposite.

The Elders is an independent group. Its members include global leaders. They support peace and human rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu formerly served as chairman.

In May 2013, he stepped down. He remains an Honorary Elder. Members have shared interests. They call human rights universal.

They support Palestinian self-determination. They endorse fair and equitable peace talks.

They issued a supportive Palestinian statement. They're "deeply worried by the impasse in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," they said.

They "welcome(d) Mahmoud Abbas' decision" to join 15 UN bodies and treaties.

Gro Harlem Brundtland is a former Norwegian prime minister. He's current deputy Elders chair. He issued a statement, saying:

"As a UN non-member observer state, Palestine is entitled to join international bodies. We welcome President Abbas’ decision to sign the Geneva Conventions and other important international human rights treaties."

"This move opens the way to more inclusive and accountable government in the West Bank and Gaza." 

"It has the potential to strengthen respect for human rights and provide ordinary Palestinians with essential legal protections against discrimination or abuses by their own government." 

"In global terms, it will also increase their ability to enjoy, in practice, the protection of their basic rights granted to them by international law."

Jimmy Carter is an Elders member. He supports Palestinians joining 15 UN bodies and treaties. 

"The decision by the Palestinians to exercise their right to join international organizations should not be seen as a blow to the peace talks," he said.

"I hope that, on the contrary, it will help to redress the power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians…"

"More than ever, both parties urgently need to make the necessary compromises to reach a lasting peace with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

In 2012, Carter criticized Netanyahu. He rejects a two-state solution, said Carter. Conditions reached "crisis stage," he added. Decades-long conflict shows no signs of resolution.

Carter's book titled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" called Israel's version "worse…than what we witnessed in South Africa."

He hoped his book would stimulate debate. "There's never been (any) on this issue of any significance," he said. 

He holds Netanyahu and other Israeli hardliners responsible. They're "moving forward towards a 'greater Israel," he stressed. 

Doing so makes peace impossible. Achieving it is more distant now than then.

"Israel will never have peace until they agree to" end occupation and grant Palestinians self-determination, Carter said. 

They show no signs of doing so. They negotiate one-way. They're hardline. They're unbending. They're all take. They're no give. Militarized occupation is illegal. It's unforgiving. 

So is the worst of Israeli apartheid. It's institutionalized. It's illegitimate.

International law is clear and unequivocal. Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime, stating:

"For the purpose of this Statute, (a) 'crime against humanity' means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

The crime of apartheid" includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by one group on another.

Racist Zionist exclusivity is key to understanding Israeli policy. It's extremist, undemocratic and hateful. 

It denies non-Jews equal rights. It claims Jewish supremacy, specialness and uniqueness.

It eschews peace and reconciliation. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy.

It believes in strength through belligerence and intimidation. Doing so threatens Jews and non-Jews alike.

Apartheid extremism is longstanding Israeli policy. Palestinians suffer horrifically.

They're denied their cultural heritage. They're driven from their own land. Israeli settlers occupy it. More come daily. 

Doing so violates international law. Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states:

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive." 

Neither shall "The Occupying Power...deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

Apartheid is the worst form of racism. Israeli militarized occupation is the worst form of apartheid. 

It incorporates state terrorism, belligerence, land theft, home demolitions, dispossessions, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, torture, destruction of property and agricultural lands, isolation and genocide.

Besieged Gazans suffer most of all. Slow-motion suffocation explains their condition. West Bank Palestinians face multiple daily community incursions. Arrests and detentions follow.

Sham peace talks continue. They do so despite daily Israeli violence. On April 8, Israeli soldiers invaded Tal and Osarin villages.

They kidnapped five Palestinian civilians, including one child. Two more were lawlessly abducted in Hebron. 

Army elements bulldozed two Bethlehem homes. Israeli naval vessels attacked Gazan fishermen. They used live ammunition.

They do it often. Deaths, injuries and heavy property damage follow. Bulldozers escorted by Israeli troops destroyed agricultural structures northwest of Hebron.

At the same time, they uprooted fields. PA security forces collaborate. Doing so shows which side Abbas supports.

He uses riot police and undercover security service forces against his own people. They attack anti-sham peace talks protesters.

They do so violently. Dozens are arrested. They're accused of protesting without permit permission. Abbas serves as Israel's enforcer. 

Conflict resolution is impossible with him in charge. Expect applying for membership in 15 UN bodies and treaties to be all show and no dough.

Membership is worthless without taking full advantage. Full UN membership is important. Abbas could have gotten it straightaway as president.

Most UN members support it. An overwhelming number. Enough to assure de facto and de jure membership. 

Petitioning the General Assembly through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 assures it.

It's veto proof. Washington can't override it. Membership gives Palestinians the same rights as all other member states.

Observer status lets them join the World Court and International Criminal Court. Doing so lets them challenge Israel as well as current and past government and military officials.

Perhaps holding them accountable is possible. Not if attempts aren't made to do so. Abbas never tried. 

Nor will he. He's close to retirement. He won't spoil a good thing now. He's on the wrong side of history. Betrayal is one of the worst crimes. Abbas stands guilty as charged.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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One-sided Human Rights Council Vote on Syria

One-Sided Human Rights Council Vote on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

On March 28, UN Human Rights Council members voted 32 - 4 to renew investigating war crimes in Syria for another year. Eleven members abstained.

Washington, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco initiated the resolution. 

Other HRC members were bullied for support. Washington and Western partners threatened refusers with consequences. 

Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba voted no. So-called investigations are biased. They're one-sided. They largely blame Assad for insurgent crimes. They do so duplicitously.

UK ambassador Karen Piece said three resolution aims include:

  • continuing to investigating human rights abuses;

  • condemning violators; and

  • supporting efforts to hold culpable parties accountable.

Doing so is almost entirely one-way. Victims are blamed for insurgent crimes.

Pierce lied saying: "We believe that this resolution represents a measured response to the worst human rights situation that this council has ever faced."

She stopped short of explaining her government's culpability. It's directly involved in Obama's war on Syria. So are other rogue EU partners, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Gulf states and Jordan.

Commission of Inquiry for Syria chairman Paulo Pinheiro prepared spurious lists of people and groups he holds responsible for Syrian crimes. It includes:

  • Syrian intelligence branches and officials;

  • government detention facility officials;

  • Syrian military commanders;

  • airport officials from which attacks are planned and executed; and

  • leaders of armed groups.

Syria's HRC envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui called its resolution biased against his government. It's wrongfully blamed for Western-supported death squad crimes.

Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced the resolution, saying:

"For instance, while enumerating the violations of human rights, the resolution does not make any mention of violence on the part of rebels that was described in (HRC's) report in detail…"

It includes "mass executions, abductions of women and children, sexual violence, the use of children soldiers, mortar shelling of densely populated areas, as well as the terrorist acts committed by the groups making up the Syrian Free Army and closely linked to the Islamic Front."

Western nations call some groups committing atrocities and other high crimes Syria's "moderate opposition," Russia's Foreign Ministry added.

They're cold-blooded killers. Washington and rogue partners support them. They plan arming them more heavily. 

They intend recruiting larger numbers of like-minded extremists. They plan stepped up efforts to oust Assad. They likely intend Libya 2.0.

Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed concern about refusing Moscow's suggestion to condemn terrorism in Syria.

"The Russian side has been actively working with a group of co-authors and proposed a number of amendments for a balanced text," it said. 

"Most of our proposals, however, were not taken into account."

“This is despite the fact that the agreed counter-terrorism clause is in Resolution 2139 of the UN Security Council," it added.

Duplicitous HRC members exceeded their mandate. They urged Syria to accelerate eliminating its chemical weapons.

They're being disposed of responsibly. "The UN Council on Human Rights is not authorized to interfere in the process, to dictate priorities and decide which provisions of the Geneva communique need special attention," Russia's Foreign Ministry stressed. 

Western-supported Syrian violence claimed tens of thousands of lives. Many more were injured. Mostly civilians are affected.

Death squad invaders target Assad loyalists. Dozens die daily. Obama's war on Syria entered its fourth year. He bears full responsibility for mass slaughter and destruction.

He's waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He's ravaging one country after another lawlessly. He wants multiple imperial trophies collected.

He targets anyone considered a state enemy for extrajudicial assassination. He governs by diktat. He's got more death and destruction in mind.

He's waging war on humanity. He's doing it at home and abroad. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. 

He's the greatest menace of our time. He threatens world peace. He risks global war. He's surrounded by likeminded neocon extremists.

They deplore peace. They promote war. They want unchallenged global dominance. They're willing to destroy planet earth to own it.

Lunatics think this way. They operate this way. They do so extrajudicially. They ravage and destroy countries indiscriminately. They falsely claim humanitarian intervention.

They're destroying humanity to save it. They infest Washington. They target Americans like others abroad. They tolerate no opposition. 

Anything goes is policy. Business as usual persists. Powerful interests control things. They partner with likeminded extremists. No one is safe anywhere with them around.

A Final Comment 

Israel is a lawless rogue state. It's the Middle East's most ruthless regime. It wages wars on Lebanon and Palestine. It bombs Syria. 

It gets away with murder and other high crimes too grave to ignore. Justice is systematically denied.

Israel's High Court most often is rubber-stamp. On March 30, RT International headlined "Israeli Supreme Court to hear war crimes case against top officials - report."

RT cited Jonathan Cook's article titled "Israel to consider war crimes case," saying:

Palestinian Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel lawyer Marwan Dalal brought charges. He's an Israeli citizen. 

He's the only Palestinian jurist "to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands."

On April 2, Israel's High Court for the first time will hear evidence of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.

A 52-page petition was submitted. It addressed three Israeli operations. They include:

  • its preemptive 2006 Lebanon war;

  • its Operation Cast Lead Gaza aggression (December 2008 - January 2009,) and 

  • murdering nine Turkish Mavi Marmara Gaza humanitarian mission activists in May 2010 in cold blood.

Evidence against Israel is overwhelming. Culpability is indisputable. Systematic coverup whitewashed it. Independent reports were denounced. 

Israel remains unaccountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. It's high time things changed. Don't expect Israeli Supreme Court justices to do it.

It won't matter either way. Israel does what it wants whatever they rule. It ignored the World Court calling its Apartheid Wall illegal.

It ordered it dismantled. It mandated compensation for victims. Justice was systematically denied. Lawless Israeli settlements expand exponentially.

Besieged Gazans struggle daily to survive. They endure slow-motion genocide. They live in the world's largest open-air prison. Multiple daily Israeli incursions target West Bank Palestinian communities. 

Nonviolent civilians are ruthlessly persecuted. Praying to the wrong God is criminalized.

Soldiers shoot children for target practice. Fishermen are attacked at sea. Settlers freely commit vandalism. Once in a while murder. Israeli security forces do nothing to stop them.

High Court justices will hear "strong factual and legal findings," said Cook. They're from public sources.

They include official Israeli inquiries. They implicate high-ranking military and government officials.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, current Justice Minister/former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and perhaps current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are vulnerable.

So are two former IDF chiefs of staff, a former domestic intelligence chief, and a former defense minister.

Dalal plans arguing that Israeli police are legally required to investigate charges relating to possible war crimes.

Prosecutors must order them. "The evidence is in the public realm and obliges Israeli prosecutors to order investigations," he said. 

"The failure to do so is unreasonable conduct and the court must rectify the matter."

Indisputable war crimes were committed. Clear evidence proves them. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash. Getting High Court justices to agree is another matter entirely.

Most often they rubber-stamp official policy. A conservative majority makes it more likely. B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said:

"There has been no discussion in Israel of the responsibility of high-ranking officials for issuing apparently illegal orders such as using white phosphorus in built-up areas, the adoption of flexible open-fire regulations, and a policy of targeting certain population groups, such as males over a certain age."

Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's most ruthless. It's a democracy in name only. Jews get a sham version. 

Muslims are considered subhumans. Israeli Arabs are considered fifth columns threats. Palestinians have no rights whatever. 

Institutionalized racism is official policy. Equity, peace and justice are non-starters. Jews alone have rights. 

Israel's gulag alone attests to its barbarity. Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish inside. Horrific treatment occurs daily.

Proper food and medical care are denied. Brutal treatment is standard practice. International law is systematically violated. Israel remains unaccountable for high crimes. 

Don't expect High Court members to hold culpable officials accountable. Don't expect Israeli war criminals to be punished. 

Business as usual persists. Long denied justice remains a distant dream.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Britain Harasses Human Rights Lawyer

Britain Harasses Human Rights Lawyer

by Stephen Lendman

Britain, America and Israel are likeminded. They're rogue states. They're axis of evil partners. 

They operate ruthlessly. They mock democratic values. They trash rule of law principles. They tolerate no one challenging their lawlessness. 

They vilify them. They imprison some. They do so to threaten others. Most often they harass. They do it no-holds-barred.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) calls itself "the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization."

Jesselyn Radack is a prominent human rights lawyer/whistleblower. She's GAP's National Security & Human Rights director.

She's involved mainly with national security and intelligence community whistleblowers. She focuses on torture, lawless surveillance, secrecy and political discrimination.

She represented former senior NSA official Thomas Drake. He won awards for truth-telling and intelligence integrity. 

On April 15, 2010, he was wrongfully indicted. Obama prosecutors did so under the 1917 Espionage Act.

He faced multiple charges. They included willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

He leaked information on lawless NSA spying. He exposed agency waste, fraud and abuse. 

He performed a vital public service. He deserved praise, not prosecution. In May 2011, 60 Minutes featured his case. He was lucky.

In early June, Obama's Justice Department dropped all charges. They did so in return for his pleading guilty to a misdemeanor too minor to matter.

He got one year probation. He agreed to perform community service. Federal Judge Richard D. Bennett presided at his sentencing hearing.

He chastised government prosecutors. He called it "unconscionable" charging Drake with crimes potentially calling for 35 years in prison only to drop them on the eve of trial.

He refused to impose a fine. Drake's defense devastated him financially. He lost his six-figure NSA job and pension.

Perhaps he inspired Edward Snowden's revelations. He's an activist against lawless surveillance state practices.

Last September, he called NSA spying too systemically out-of-control to fix. The only solution is shutting it down and starting over.

He should have included everything ongoing politically. It's unprincipled. It's lawless. It's corrupted. It's too broken to fix. 

The only solution is turning a page. It's making a clean sweep. It's cleaning house. It's starting over. Nothing else can work.

Radack is on the frontline for justice. She's a Yale Law School grad. She's a former Justice Department ethics advisor. She practiced constitutional tort law.

She gained prominence from John Walker Lindh's case. He was captured in Afghanistan. He was persecuted unjustly. He was outrageously called the "American Taliban." 

He was brutally tortured and abused. He was falsely accused of treason. He was victimized by post-9/11 hysteria. His case was the first prominent terrorism-related one. He was Bush "Detainee 001."

His trial was a travesty of justice. He was guilty by accusation. In 2002, he got 20 years without the possibility of parole. 

With good behavior, it could be three less. It depends entirely on the political climate at the time. 

America's fast track toward full-blown tyranny isn't encouraging. Lindh and many other political prisoners may stay buried in prison hell interminably. 

Obama can detain anyone on his say alone. He can hold them indefinitely with or without charges. 

Innocence is no defense. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Lindh, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and many others like them bear testimony to US ruthlessness. It's worse than ever now. It shows no signs of improving.

Radack chronicled her whistleblowing connection to Lindh in her memoir titled "TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the 'American Taliban.' "

She exposed Bush administration wrongdoing in his case. He was horrendously treated. He was brutally interrogated without legal counsel. 

Justice Department officials suppressed important information. Attorney General John Ashcroft made false and misleading public statements.

Whistleblowing got Radack targeted. She was harassed. She experienced it at DOJ and subsequent private employment.

She was put on a No-Fly "Selectee" list. She remained on from 2003 through 2009. She endured unjustifiable/harassing security scrutiny.

She uses lessons drawn from her ordeal to help others. Lindh's mistreatment was a "harbinger" for what followed, she explained.

It included institutionalizing torture as official policy. Radack was the first post-9/11 whistleblower raising alarms. She exposed outrageous Bush administration wrongdoing.

"I am the Department of Justice attorney who blew the whistle on the government misconduct in the case of John Walker Lindh, the 'American Taliban."

She said so in Chapter 1 of her book. She's a leading whistleblower champion. "I don't wear the label 'whistleblower' comfortably," she said.

"Why should I get some special moniker for doing what I would have done anyway," she asked? Others like her call it "doing their jobs."

It's as simple as knowing right from wrong. It's how civil servants should behave. Just societies demand no less.

Whistleblowers should be honored. They deserve praise, not retaliatory targeting. Happy outcomes aren't typical, said Radack.

"(F)or every success story" like Daniel Ellsberg, "there are a hundred stories of professional martyrdom," she explained.

"Mine is one of them," she added. She represents Edward Snowden. She's in the line of fire. 

She was detained at London's Heathrow Airport. She was interrogated about trips to Russia, Julian Assange, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Snowden.

She was asked why she went to Russia twice in three months. She spoke to Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola.

A Border Force agent harassed her. She faced "very hostile questioning." She was asked why she was there. "To see friends," she said.

She was asked to identify them. They're members of a group called Sam Adams Associates. They're former CIA officers.

They're intelligence professionals for integrity. Annually they present the Sam Adams Award. It's named after Samuel A. Adams. He was a Vietnam War era CIA whistleblower. 

Past recipients include Coleen Rowley, Katherine Gun, Sibel Edmonds, Craig Murray, Samuel Provance, Andrew Wilkie, Frank Grevil, Larry Wilkerson, Julian Assange, Thomas Drake, Thomas Fingar, Edward Snowden, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Radack.

She was asked where she planned to meet friends she came to see. "At the Ecuadorian Embassy," she said.

It's where Julian Assange remains a political refugee. Ecuador granted him asylum. He faces lawless extradition to America. 

Obama wants him prosecuted. He wants him imprisoned longterm like Manning. He wants another message sent potential whistleblowers. 

He wants them warned about being declared enemies of the state. He wants them told they'd receive harsh treatment.

Throughout his tenure, he waged war on freedom. Truth-telling and dissent increasingly aren't tolerated.

Whistleblowers are called threats to national security. Obama targeted more of them than all his predecessors combined.

Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability and "change (to) believe in." President Obama delivered business as usual and then some.

Police state lawlessness defines his administration. So does waging war on humanity worldwide. He's gone all-out to defend the indefensible. 

Americans have never been less safe. Doing the right thing is risky. Anyone trying becomes vulnerable. 

Radack knows what whistleblowers face. She was "stone face cold" during Heathrow Airport interrogation. 

She was asked if she represents Snowden. "Yes, "I'm a human rights lawyer," she said.

Her interrogator "barked" questions. His demeanor was "threatening." Radack was told she's on an "inhibited persons list." It's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminology.

A DHS document states: 

" ‘Inhibited status’, as defined in this rule, means the status of a passenger or non-traveling individual to whom TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has instructed a covered aircraft operator or a covered airport operator not to issue a boarding pass or to provide access to the sterile area."

Radack later responded to her mistreatment, saying "(t)he government, whether in the US, UK, or elsewhere does not have the authority to monitor, harass or intimidate lawyers for representing unpopular clients."

It's standard American practice. It warns attorneys about steering clear of defendants Washington wants convicted. Otherwise they're vulnerable.

Pastor Martin Niemoller recounted how Nazis came for communists, socialists, trade unionists, and Jews. 

Each time, he didn't speak out. He wasn't among those targeted. "Then they came for me," he said. "(T)here was no one left to speak" on his behalf.

Now they're coming after lawyers. They're doing it in America. Representing unpopular clients leaves them vulnerable.

Imagine targeting anyone for doing the right thing. Imagine spying on them lawlessly. Imagine ruthlessly harassing them. 

Imagine violating attorney/client confidentiality. Imagine rule of law principles no longer applying. Imagine defending the indefensible. 

Radack quoted former White House speechwriter Jerome Doolittle on Bush administration DOJ officials targeting her, saying:

"There is something primordial about Team Bush's reaction to dissent, something reptilian."

"They're like the gila monster, its jaws holding their poisonous grip even after its head is severed."

Radack added: "If the Bush administration was primordial, the Obama administration is downright pathological..."

She felt obligated to tell her story. She felt a "moral imperative" to do so. She had many "pent-up things to say."

If white, well-educated, "comfortably middle-class" US lawyers can lose freedom, what chance have people of color, Muslims, immigrants, or others most disadvantaged.

Howard Zinn said "you can't be neutral on a moving train...You cannot be neutral on the crucial issues of our time."

Doing so means accepting the unacceptable. Late in life he said:

"Wherever any kind of injustice has been overturned, it's been because people acted as citizens, and not as politicians. They didn't just moan." 

"They worked, they acted, they organized, they rioted if necessary to bring their situation to the attention of people in power. And that's what we have to do today."

"(T)he emperor has no clothes," said Radack. "(E)xpos(ing) the nakedness of government policies should be applauded, not annihilated." 

On 9/11, her "life-altering" journey began. "The years immediately following" what happened "were the most difficult of (her) life..."

At the same time, she deepened her commitment for human and civil rights. She promised to use her "voice to try to prevent" anyone with something important to say from being silenced.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it radiate where most needed.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Vienna

Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Vienna

by Stephen Lendman

On November 24, 2013, Iran and P5 + 1 countries agreed on Joint Plan of Action (JPA) terms. A previous article said hold the cheers. It asked if it matters.

Longstanding hardline US/Israeli policy won't change. Anti-Iranian AIPAC pressure is relentless.

Obama twice breached JPA terms. He did so unilaterally. On February 18, talks resumed. Focus is on agreeing on a comprehensive "permanent resolution." Prospects aren't encouraging.

Longstanding US policy calls for regime change. Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful. No evidence suggests otherwise.

It doesn't matter. "My goal is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," says Obama. "All options are on the table."

On February 17, an unnamed senior administration official said Obama calls achieving a final agreement "a 50-50 proposition" at best. "(H)igh expectations" don't exist. We're "cautious, very cautious."

Iranians have just cause for concern. US agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. Washington doesn't negotiate in good faith.

Promises made are broken. Obama broke every major one made. Throughout his tenure, he targeted Iran for regime change. Believing policy shifted now requires a giant leap of faith.

On Monday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said:

"What our officials started will continue. We will not renege…But I will say again: there is no use. (Talks) will not lead anywhere."

"Don't try to dress up America and erase its past record of terror, violence and ugliness."

"The nuclear issue is just hype. American officials are already raising other issues like human rights and missile threat."

Even if a comprehensive deal is reached, "everyone must know that America's enmity is with the core of the Islamic Revolution and with Islam." 

"The enmity will not end with the negotiations" no matter what happens ahead.

Current talks are expected to last three days. They'll focus on how to proceed from here. According to an unnamed senior US official:

"This is the beginning of what will be a complicated, difficult and lengthy process." 

"When the stakes are this high, and the devil is truly in the details, one has to take the time to ensure the confidence of the international community in the result."

The problem with Iran's nuclear program is Washington. It's Israel. Netanyahu is unrelenting.

In January, he addressed the World Economic Forum. He lied saying Arab countries "understand that Iran remains aggressive, supports terror, that it participates in the slaughter in Syria, (and) that (it's) pursuing the development of ballistic missiles and plutonium for nuclear weapons."

He said Rohani's address had "no connection to what's going on on the ground. (He) continues Iran's deception show."

"The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs' regime, that hides behind Rohani's smile, is to ease sanctions without giving up their program to produce nuclear weapons."

He urged the international community "not to be duped."

On February 16, he held his weekly cabinet meeting. He lied saying:

Iran "received a major easing of sanctions...(It's) continuing its aggressive policy both" internally and externally.

It's "execution innocent people. (I)t supports the continued killings by the Syrian regime."

It "continu(es) to arm terrorist organizations with advanced, deadly weapons and, of course, it is continuing to call for the destruction of the State of Israel."

"At the same time, Iran is continuing with advanced research and development of centrifuges. Iran is not prepared to concede even one centrifuge." 

"Israel's policy is clear and is active on two tracks: First, to expose Iran's unchanging aggressive policy. Second, to demand the dismantling of Iran's enrichment capacity."

Fact check

Iran conceded plenty in Geneva. Much more than was warranted. It got little in return. 

Its one success was getting Washington to bend modestly for the first time. Whether it's smoke and mirrors deception remains to be seen. Smart money says so.

Netanyahu said nothing about Israel's formidable nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It's the elephant in the room routinely ignored.

Iran threatens no one. Israel represents a global threat. It never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

In 1993, it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It refused to ratify it. It did so for spurious reasons. It wrongfully claims it's surrounded by hostile neighbors. Israel's only enemies are ones it invents.

It never signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Its policy is CBW ambiguity. It fools no one.

Netanyahu is unhinged. He's a world class bully. He shames the office he holds. He's an embarrassment to legitimate governance. He out-Sharon's Sharon.

He knows Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful. He knows Tehran threatens no one. 

No Iranian leader ever threatened to annihilate Israel. Netanyahu's comments turn truth on its head. Last October, he said:

"Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map." 

"Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons."

On February 17, Netanyahu addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (CPMJO) in Jerusalem.

He urged "more pressure on Iran, not less." He lied saying Joint Plan of Action terms set Iran's program back "four weeks. That's what Iran has given to the world, which means it's given practically nothing."

"But Iran received a great deal," he claimed. "It received the easing of sanctions. It received nations that are