Posts Tagged ‘war on terror’

Torture awareness month events organized across the nation

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm by

tortureIn February 1998, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared June 26 to be the International Day of Support for the Victims of Torture. Human rights advocates across the globe join together on this day each year in an effort to raise awareness about inhumane abuse and express solidarity with survivors.

In Los Angeles, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace hosted the Close Guantánamo Justice Luncheon at United University Church, welcoming attorneys Anne Richardson and Michael Rapkin, each of whom represents detainees at the world’s most notorious prison camp. The event brought together people from a variety of religious communities, exposing the realities of American-sponsored torture at home and abroad.

Numerous legal and advocacy organizations in Chicago worked together to lead a town hall meeting on torture at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies. Drawing upon the Convention Against Torture, a legally binding document ratified by the US in 1994, this town hall meeting focused on prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement practices by the Chicago Police Department. In addition to demanding an end to all torture practices throughout the nation, this event called upon the Governor of the State of Illinois to pardon all victims of torture and recognize their right to rehabilitation.

Finally, the fight to end US-sponsored torture and other human rights abuses emerged in our nation’s capital, where the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)  recognized Syracuse University Law professor David Crane with the 2014 Eclipse Award for his work to fight against impunity for torture. More recently, Crane has played a pivotal role in revealing the injustices perpetrated by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. The event also hosted David Luban, a professor at Georgetown University College of Law, and Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador at Large and Director of the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Guided by CVT Executive Director Curt Goering, these distinguished experts discussed principles to fighting impunity, and the challenges that emerge in implementing them.

For more information about how you can join the fight against torture email orgnanizing@bordc.org.

 

Anti-drone grandmother sentenced to one year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm by

Our government locked up a grandmother and member of New York’s Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars for protesting against drones at a US base.

Prior to her current case, Mary Anne Grady-Flores was issued an order of protection to keep her away from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base after she participated in an act of civil disobedience there on October 25, 2012.  The order was in effect for one year.

After the order of protection was put in place, Grady-Flores attended a protest.  Reports indicate that while she did not participate in the action, she took photographs of it from the roadway, fully believing that she was in compliance with the protective order.

Unfortunately for Grady-Flores, the property of the base extended all the way to the roadway.  Thus she was charged and tried with second degree criminal contempt for violating the protective order.  Rather than plead guilty to this abuse of our judicial and criminal process, Grady Flores took her case to trial.

On Thursday, Judge David Gideon of the DeWitt Town Court sentenced her to the maximum sentence of a year in prison for violating the protection order and fined her $1,000. In a courtroom packed with about 150 supporters, Grady Flores spoke about what she called the four perversions of justice in her case:

“The fourth perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base involved in killing innocent people halfway around the world or those innocent people themselves, who are the real ones in need of orders of protection? So I, as a nonviolent grandmother and a caregiver to my own mother, as I prepare for jail, itself a perversion, I stand before you remorseful. I’m remorseful about my own country and its continued perpetuating of violence and injustice.”

Newly released memo on drone killings based on faulty assumptions and secret law.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm by

droneThe US government may assassinate its own citizens.  We saw this in 2011 when the US killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen of Yemeni descent.  But under what conditions may the US government assassinate one of its own citizens?  This question was partially answered with the June 23 release of a legal memo authored in 2010 by former White House counsel, now federal appeals judge, David Barron.

The memo explains the legal reasoning justifying the 2011 drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. It was released by order of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in response to a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times. It is a follow up to a white paper released in 2013 by the Obama administration stating the legal opinion that a US citizen could be killed if he was a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an “associated force” posing an “imminent threat.” That memo specifically stated that assessing a target as an “imminent threat” need not require knowledge of a specific planned attack against the US. (more…)

Retired Air Force officer exhorts Americans to challenge “Fortress America”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:06 am by

Reflecting on his 20 years of military service as a US Air Force officer, and noting the dramatic changes in both law & culture over the past decade, Lt. Colonel (ret.) William J. Astore wrote last week about the acquiescence of Americans to what he describes as “Fortress America.” In Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want You—He Already Has You, Astore exhorts Americans to challenge the national security state in order to preserve basic liberty principles.

Referencing young people who may not recall an era in which privacy was ever respected, he explains:

Many of the college students I’ve taught recently take such a loss of privacy for granted. They have no idea what’s gone missing from their lives and so don’t value what they’ve lost or, if they fret about it at all, console themselves with magical thinking—incantations like “I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide.” They have little sense of how capricious governments can be about the definition of “wrong.”

Astore goes on to note the sycophancy of Hollywood, reflected in movies repeatedly glorifying US intelligence agencies despite their serial crimes, in sharp contrast to the films of the 1970s and 1980s that offered storylines and narratives more reflective of the agencies actual behavior.

He also takes on border security and police militarization:

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The cost of liberty? Or what will cost us our liberty?

Monday, April 28, 2014 at 9:30 am by

Lady_Liberty_New_YorkThe 9/11 incident and subsequent terrorist attacks have left the American people living in a perpetual state of fear. As a result, the public has largely deferred to those actions that the government has deemed as “essential” to national security. The proliferation of already contested, by the public and legally, practices such as racial profiling, deportation of individuals without due process, and the militarization of the police – may appear to be promoting the public welfare but it can be seen that they are imposing too high of a price. In exchange for the perception of safety, the people are sacrificing the civil rights and liberties that American ideals rely upon.

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Federal Judge abandons the Constitution, and the rights of Muslim Americans

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 8:20 am by

nypd-ny-muslims-811-thumb-640xauto-3955On Thursday, February 20, a federal judge based in Newark, NJ dismissed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) large scale surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. The case of Hassan v. City of New York was brought by several individuals and organizations, with legal representation by Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
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Locking the public out of public trials in Chicago: Your rights aren’t worth crap

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 11:42 am by

Original commentary by Chris Geovanis and was published to CounterPunch on January 21, 2014.

nato-protest-01-horizontal-galleryPublic trials are one of the fundamental tenets of American democracy. And they’ve been cancelled in Chicago, at least for the trial of the NATO 3 — three defendants battling terrorism charges for alleged ‘crimes’ wholly instigated, manufactured and advanced by undercover cops in a blatant case of entrapment. But you’ll be hard pressed to determine this for yourself, since you’re essentially banned from the courtroom unless you’re willing to surrender your right to privacy, your right to even a glimmer of free expression, or your right as a non-corporate reporter to cover the case in real time like your corporate colleagues can.

Government officials are forcing every member of the public seeking to observe the NATO 3 trial to ‘pre-register’, produce a government-issued ID, submit to a criminal background check — and, of course, trust them with your data.

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New study reveals that NSA spying does not prevent terrorism

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm by

006368-nsa-director-general-keith-alexanderSince the public revelation of the NSA’s phone record collection in June of 2013, government officials have defended the program, emphasizing its necessity in finding and thwarting terrorist plots. The New America Foundation released a report this week that undermines such claims and reveals the futility of the NSA’s bulk surveillance in preventing terrorist attacks in the United States. The study reviews the investigative methods used in each of the 225 terrorism cases since September 11, 2001. The study also evaluates the significance of the NSA’s collection of phone and email records in preventing these terrorist activities.

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Drone gaze, drone injury: the war on communities of color

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm by

Commentary provided by Joe Scarry and originally published on Scarry Thoughts blog on November 21, 2013.

drone-pilotHere’s what I was thinking about as the 2013 CODEPINK Drones Summit concluded:

“There is a wing of this movement that is concerned about surveillance; there is a wing of this movement that’s concerned about physical injury to people. If there is one area where there is not always full communication, coordination or agreement, that’s it. . . . If the people who feel most concerned about surveillance are actually successful at sitting together with the people concerned about physical injury, this is going to be an incredibly powerful movement.”

(See Drone Free Zone: At the second annual Drone Summit, Code Pink and Cornel West argue that all lives are equal. in In These Times quoted me the day after)

“This movement,” of course, is the movement to stop drone surveillance and warfare. During the summit we need an enormous amount of progress in building the national (and soon-to-be global) network to stop drone surveillance and warfare. Are there really two different wings — two different struggles — or is it, in fact, a single struggle?

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News Digest 12/03/13

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Current News 

12/3, Editorial, The Detroit News, Government should pull back on forfeitures

12/2, Kevin Gosztola, FIREDOGLAKE, NSA Sent Home Talking Points for Employees to Use in Conversations with Family & Friends During Holidays

12/2, Cory Doctorow, Bing Bong, How big corporations and government spy agencies surveil and sabotage activist groups

12/1, Ross Anderson, The Guardian, Work and surveillance in a post-Snowden world

12/1, Lawrence Roberts, Bloomberg, Feinstein Says U.S. No Safer From Terror Than Two Years Ago

11/23, Eyder Peralta, NPR, Miami-Area Police Force Accused Of Rampant Racial Profiling