Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier is Up for Parole This Month

“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all…” Leonard Peltier

Read the full article.

Imperialism, religion and class in Swat

The Pakistan military claimed at the beginning of June that it had achieved success in its all-out assault on Taliban insurgents after driving more than two million people from the Swat Valley and other areas of the north west of the country. The assault followed the breakdown of an agreement reached in February between the government and Sufi Mohammad, leader of one of the Islamist groups, for Swat’s legal code to be based on Nizam-e-Adl—an attempt to mix constitutional rules with the local interpretation of sharia law. The agreement was meant to bring an end to fighting between the Pakistan army and the Swat Taliban, led by Sufi Muhammad’s son in law, Maulana Fazullah.

The military onslaught happened after pressure from the US, which worried about the implications an agreement between the Pakistan government and the Taliban would have for its operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Pakistan. But the assault found favour with most liberal and “civil society” opinion, and much of the left, even if this was sometimes mixed with horror at the effects on civilians. Articles in the Pakistani press habitually refer to the “barbarity” of “terrorist” rule in Swat. This feeling was given a sharp edge by a mobile phone video supposedly showing a 17 year old woman receiving 30 whippings for “illicit” relations with a man—although other reports claim that the video was fraudulent and that the woman has denied she was whipped. 1 Whatever the truth of the matter, the video played a role in leading much of the left internationally to take a similar approach to the Pakistani liberals, treating the Pakistan Taliban as if it were as much a foreign force in Swat as the Pakistan army or the US army in Afghanistan. Yet there is strong evidence of a class element to the conflict. The New York Times could report in April, “The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants…the Taliban seized control by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power. To do so, the militants organised peasants into armed gangs that became their shock troops.”

The Karachi newspaper The News has carried a debate which, according to one far left contributor, “has pitted those who claim that the situation in Swat is a reflection of longstanding class inequities against those who refute this notion of ‘class war’; while the former suggest that the ‘Taliban’ has generated support amongst the subordinate classes, the latter argue that the ‘Taliban’ has imposed itself in the area on the basis of brute force”. 2 One of the articles prompting the debate, reprinted in edited form here, came from Sartaj Khan of the International Socialists of Pakistan. Full article.

Obama Courts Disaster With New Detention Plan

Obama’s argument for preventive detention “violates basic American values and is likely unconstitutional,” warned Sen. Russ Feingold in a recent letter to the President, cautioning that detention without trial “is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world.” Advancing such a controversial precedent on American soil, without the participation of Congress or the American people, would be disastrous. Full article.

Obama’s First Coup D’etat

As of 11:15am, Caracas time, President Zelaya is speaking live on Telesur from San Jose, Costa Rica. He has verified the soldiers entered his residence in the early morning hours, firing guns and threatening to kill him and his family if he resisted the coup. He was forced to go with the soldiers who took him to the air base and flew him to Costa Rica. He has requested the U.S. Government make a public statement condemning the coup, otherwise, it will indicate their compliance. Full article.

barack hoover obama – the best and brightest blow it again

“every instinct the president has honed, every voice he hears in washington, every inclination of our political culture urges incrementalism, urges deliberation, if any significant change is to be brought about. the trouble is that we are at one of those rare moments in history when the radical becomes pragmatic, when deliberation and compromise foster disaster. the question is not what can be done but WHAT MUST BE DONE.” (from “barack hoover obama – the best and brightest blow it again”, kevin baker, harper’s, july 2009)

the news from iran took the focus off of iraq – 200 deaths in one week…

BAGHDAD: The bombing of a Baghdad bus station yesterday pushed the death toll from a weeklong series of blasts near Shiite targets to about 200, calling into question Iraq’s ability to provide security as United States combat troops slowly withdraw from cities.

The wave of attacks is undermining Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s declaration of a “great victory” in the US pullout from urban areas by next Tuesday’s deadline.

He has declared June 30 a national holiday to be marked with celebrations. Full article.

White House Drafts Executive Order to Allow Indefinite Detention of Terror Suspects

disgusting.

“Obama administration officials, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, are crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.” Full article.

Animal Rights Activist Jailed at Secretive Prison Gives First Account of Life Inside a “CMU”

every american should watch this interview: the attack on dissent (animal rights activism, environmentalism, just being a muslim) under the guise of fighting terrorism. scary.

In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at a secretive prison known as a Communication Management Unit, or CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU and will talk about his experience there for the first time. He was sentenced to three years along with six other activists for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of CMUs. We also speak with Stepanian’s lawyer and a reporter covering the story. Watch the interview on Democracy Now!

Why America is a bank-owned state

Some of the banks should be allowed to die because they are so insolvent and holding so much in toxic assets that they will forever need to be on taxpayer-funded life support. The problem is, this life support is sucking the life out of the taxpayer in the process, as it weighs them down with ever-increasing debt. On top of that, the money could be used to restructure the economy in a way that is less reliant on the financial sector. Full article.

About 40,000 leave before new Pakistan battle

ISLAMABAD, June 22 (Reuters) – About 40,000 Pakistanis are on the move even before a military offensive begins in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, U.N. officials said on Monday, and are headed for communities already stretched to the limit.

Nearly 2 million people have fled fighting in northwest Pakistan, most since early May when the military began an offensive against Taliban insurgents, prompting the United Nations to launch an appeal for $543 million in aid to avert a long-term humanitarian crisis. Full article.

Obama Administration Seeks To Keep Torture Victims From Having Day In Court

Obama Administration Seeks To Keep Torture Victims From Having Day In Court (6/12/2009)

Justice Department Asks Court For Rehearing In Extraordinary Rendition Lawsuit Against Boeing Subsidiary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The Justice Department today argued that the victims of the “extraordinary rendition” program should not have their day in court, asking a federal appeals court to block a landmark case the court had earlier ruled could go forward. In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., for its role in the Bush administration’s unlawful “extraordinary rendition” program could proceed, but today the government asked the appeals court’s full panel of judges to rehear that decision.

“The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ‘state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”

In April, the appeals court reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit, brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The Bush administration had intervened, improperly asserting the “state secrets” privilege to have the case thrown out. The appeals court ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the “state secrets” privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit.

“The extraordinary rendition program is well known throughout the world. The only place it hasn’t been discussed is where it most cries out for examination – in a U.S. court of law,” said Steven Watt, a staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “Attempts to keep this case from moving forward fly in the face of Obama’s promise to reaffirm our commitment to domestic and international human rights law and restore an America we can be proud of. Victims of extraordinary rendition deserve their day in court.”

In recent years, the government has asserted the “state secrets” claim with increasing regularity in an attempt to throw out lawsuits and justify withholding information from the public not only about the rendition program, but also about illegal wiretapping, torture and other breaches of U.S. and international law.

Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen was brought on behalf of Al-Rawi, Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah.

In addition to Wizner and Watt, attorneys in the lawsuit are Steven R. Shapiro and Jameel Jaffer of the national ACLU, Ann Brick of the ACLU of Northern California, Paul Hoffman of the law firm Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP and Hope Metcalf of the Yale Law School Lowenstein Clinic. In addition, Margaret L. Satterthwaite and Amna Akbar of the International Human Rights Clinic of New York University School of Law and Clive Stafford-Smith and Zachary Katznelson represent plaintiffs in this case.

More information about the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/jeppesen