Posts Tagged gitmo

Quote of the Day

When I was secretary, we had basically a two-war strategy. We had to maintain sufficient forces to be able to fight two wars at once. He switched that. Now we’re going to have a one-war strategy. And that’s all being done as a rationale to justify further deep cuts in the defense budget so he can allocate that money to food stamps or whatever else he wants to spend it on.

Dick-Cheney-1-300x214Dick Cheney criticizing President Obama for prioritizing feeding people over waging wars.

If there ever was any doubt that Republicans do not believe people are entitled to food, what Dick Cheney, former Vice President and eternal war mongering war criminal at large, had to say at an energy industry trade show in Billings, Montana should put all those doubts – and denials – to rest.

If I had not read it, I would not believe that someone is and can be so openly callous so as to state, as a matter-of-factly and with a straight face, that spending money to feed human beings is a waste as that money could be better used engaging in wars.

The thing that is truly disturbing is that he is so cavalier and smug about this. There is not even any pretense to caring about peoples’ lives and the human cost of war. I can almost picture him saying this with the demeanor of a bad cop with a wicked grin who just wants anyone to give him a reason.

Another thing to note, of course, is that President Obama does not and has not prioritized the poor and hungry over anything. He was the architect behind the Draconian sequester (thinking that if he makes it cut-throat enough, it would turn away even Republicans. Little did he know), he failed to close down Gitmo, he continues to support and sign off on the use of drones and, if I recall, he personally signed an $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law!!

So, on the one hand you got this sorry excuse for a human being named Dick Cheney declare, without shame and compunction, that spending money on feeding people as opposed to going to war was a waste and on the other hand you got him accusing the President for having done precisely that when the President has clearly not ever put the poor and hungry before any other cause, including war, the defense budget, Wall Street and private industry in general.

Thirty years ago Obama would have been a proud candidate for the Republican party, palling around side-by-side Ronald Reagan. He is not a liberal, no matter how many times people repeat that. It is just that the Republican party of yesteryear is gone and what has remained has moved substantially more to the Right, getting greedier and more Orwellian than ever, in turn making someone like Obama look like a Liberal.

Conservative hypocrisy and callousness truly have no bounds.

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This Is What It Looks Like When You Force-Feed A GITMO Hunger Striker

This is your America. And this is what is being done to people by the US government in the name and with the tax dollars of American citizens.

Hunger Strike

There are currently over 100 inmates at Guantanamo Bay who are carrying out a hunger strike. On July 5, the Guardian reported that approximately 45 of those who are on strike are “being fed enterally” — or, to use the lay term, are being force-fed. The human rights organization Reprieve has staged one of those force-feedings, with the help of rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), following the standard operating procedure outlined in leaked instructions.The session was filmed and published by the Guardian.

Guantanamo prisoners have filed a motion asking for the practice to be stopped, arguing it’s torture, the Washington Post reported. Force-feeding is considered a violation of medical ethics by World Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Torture Does Not Make Us Safer

People say we need to do this to catch terrorists. That it makes us safer. But do we? And does it?

Crime and terrorism are not going to go away and they are not unique to the United States. All we can do is control how we respond to them, such as bring those who commit crimes to justice by utilizing a justice system under the rule of law with clear protocols and procedures aimed at ensuring that peoples constitutionally guaranteed civil and human rights are not violated,  which means no unlawful detainment or locking up anyone without due process. It also means  not resorting to torture and all sorts of other uncivilized, barbaric means in order to get information out of suspected enemies.

We cannot control the behavior of people, all we have control over is how we respond to it.

Yes, some people did heinous things, terrible things, but we as a society don’t have to do the same. That is the difference between us and countries that run kangaroo courts where people are tortured and then executed after speedy trials and under the auspices of “security”.

We have a choice as a society and government, and torture is not the answer.

It doesn’t matter what these men are guilty of – if anything – the point is that they do not deserve endless days of this torture and disrespect. Free them and put them on trial and then prove their guilt in a court of law instead of detaining them and making them prove their innocence under torture.

Innocent until proven guilty is not just a line in Law and Order, it is a very fundamental legal right that is essential to freedom  That the accused bears no burden of proof is a very fundamental legal principle put in place to insure innocent people do not end up in jail or be found guilty without proof.

Torturing  people on the suspicion that they may be involved in some terrorism cell violates this crucial principle. 

Just as we do not suspend the rights of the accused for crimes like rape and murder, we ought to not suspend them for terrorism. While terrorists exhibit seemingly inhuman cruelty, people accused of terroristic actions deserve the same rights we afford others accused of crimes because if the rule of law does not apply to everyone, it applies to no one.

Torture does not make us safer and it diminishes us undoing everything we fought for all this time to set us apart from the barbarians we used to be just a hundred years ago – where human life had no value.

If we decide that the life of certain people has no value and thus it is ok to torture and degrade them in such a manner,  then again, we diminish ourselves and this society, not to mention that we then also set a precedent for such transgressions.

Once you set the precedent that in some random cases torture and the disregard for the rule of law is acceptable, who is to stop someone else from coming in and trying to take it a step further and apply it to something “very similar”? Since there is no accountability, and secret courts issue all the warrants, who is going to stop them?

A court that operates in secrecy is not much of a court and not much justice and due process and rule of law can be expected to apply. It is a kangaroo court, a tribunal where one is guilty until proven innocent.

Secret courts don’t dispense justice, they dispense sentences violating a person’s constitutional rights while not accountable to anyone.

Torture, which is approved and condoned by such secret courts is  inhumane and it is a disgrace to this nation to treat human beings in this manner – no matter who they are and what they did.

They say violence is not the solution and terrorists are condemned for trying to use violence to make their point. But if we continue in this manner, then we are no better than some terrorist who believes that violence and atrocities are ok as long as they happen for a noble, worthy cause. In that case, our crimes would exceed anything Al Qaeda has done.

We need to evolve past those crude ways of thinking of and treating people. Torture is barbaric and uncivilized and it does not make us safer and I do not believe it would be justified, even if it did.

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George Orwell Hails From 1984

There is so much bullshit of the Orwellian kind going on in this country I cannot keep up.

government or private cartoon

First (and I’ll get to second, which is the SCOTUS gutting the Voting Rights Act in a later post), we got Edward Snowden being chased around the globe because he exposed the United States government, which is meant to be of, by, and for the people, as encroaching upon the very liberties it’s purporting to defend via an extensive drag net of government surveillance programs via which millions of law abiding Americans are being spied on and monitored everyday.

Naturally, Snowden  is called a traitor when the only people he is a traitor to are the liars who claim to value transparency and liberty, while obfuscating their cloaked intrusions into peoples’ privacy.

In the name of security and terrorism prevention, Americans have not only handed over their very hard-won and hard-fought-for civil liberties and constitutional rights, but in many cases it was right out usurped out of them. And anyone who opposes it or, in Snowden’s case, decides to expose it, is called a traitor who must hang and his supporters are dismissed with the usual rigmarole about how what we should really be worried about is the dire threat to national security that exposure of the PRISM program constitutes. The same refrain that has been used by the Bush administration as well as the Obama administration to justify every overreach of executive power and unconstitutional intelligence-gathering—not to mention torture, extraordinary rendition, and indefinite detainment—for the last 13 years.

It does make you wonder why this program, which is supposed to be so effective, didn’t it catch the Boston Marathon bombers? The Tsarnaev brothers were not very sophisticated. They used pots and pan for cryin’ out loud.  Everything we’ve learned about them suggests that they operated more openly and crudely than most terrorists. So if this program didn’t catch their plot, what are the “dozens of terrorism threats” that this program has allegedly halted? And why didn’t it catch the Tsarnaevs?

Yesterday, President Obama issued a statement saying that the United States is following legal channels on how to bring National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden back to the U.S. to make sure “the rule of law is observed”, which is very rich and not hypocritical at all coming from the same administration that just last year cared so much for the “rule of law” that they chose not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.

To purport to care about the Rule of Law when it is convenient and when just a few months ago we chose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as money laundering is not only deeply hypocritical and arbitrary, it also  diminishes that law, which Obama is now claiming must be upheld, itself. So “Rule of Law” my dissenting ass, Mr. President.

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Obama has no problem bypassing the Rule of Law that he is holding in such high regard when it comes to “too big to fail” financial institutions that own our government and continue to remain “too big to fail” based on his continued failed policies, but now suddenly we must spend endless efforts and resources to bring to justice a man who exposed government crimes.

But then again, what do I expect? He is just another god damn politician. To quote Woody Allen “You know the ethics those guys have It’s like a notch underneath child molester.”

Indeed.

What is making all of this worse is the public’s complacency and that so many people are seriously asking for this guy to go to jail because he violated that sham law The Patriot Act. A law that should never have been. And really, who cares it is the law? Laws can be wrong. And just because something is the law doesn’t make it right.

Some 80 years ago Germany enacted a bunch of laws of its own, for the safety and protection of the state, and we saw where that ended. After the war everyone was blaming people for not speaking up when they saw evil happen. Now someone does exactly that, and everyone thinks he should go to jail? What is wrong with people?

The government is spying on Americans.  That is not acceptable, that is not a bargain we should accept, especially if there is no oversight and accountability. Of course they say this is only to take down the bad guys. “Oh and by the way, we will also determine who the bad guys are, don’t you worry”. That’s reassuring.

Spying on citizens and such infringements are serious transgressions and they undermine the very core of a democracy and everything this country stands for. It always starts with “we are only going after the bad guys” and “this is only for your protection” and before you know it’s turned into something else, something bigger. Too big to fail and then too big to shut down. That is scary. That is unacceptable. I cannot believe people are so sheepish to seriously think that this is ok because “the law says so. Baaaaaahhhhhh.”

Yeah. Priorities. We got them. 

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