* GEORGE W. BUSH AND ANTHONY L. BLAIR LIVE STREAMING OF WAR CRIMES TRIAL
Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal
By Global Research
CLICK TO VIEW: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kl-war-crime-tribunal
*UC DAVIS PEPPER-SPRAY INCIDENT REVEALS WEAKNESS UP TOP
By Matt Taibbi
Was absolutely mesmerized last night watching the viral video of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying. It was totally amazing, simultaneously one of most depressing and inspiring things I’ve seen in many years.
To recap for those who haven’t seen it: police in paramilitary gear line up in front of a group of Occupy protesters peacefully assembled on a quad pathway. Completely unprovoked, police decide to douse the whole group of sitting protesters with pepper spray. There is crying and chaos and panic, but the wheezing protesters sit resolutely in place and refuse to move despite the assault.
Finally, in what to me is the most amazing part, the protesters gather together and move forward shouting “Shame On You! Shame On You!” over and over again. You can literally see the painful truth of those words cutting the resolve of the policemen and forcing them backwards.
Glenn Greenwald’s post at Salon says this far better than I can, but there are undeniable conclusions one can draw from this incident. The main thing is that the frenzied dissolution of due process and individual rights that took took place under George Bush’s watch, and continued uncorrected even when supposed liberal constitutional lawyer Barack Obama took office, has now come full circle and become an important element to the newer political controversy involving domestic/financial corruption and economic injustice.
As Glenn points out, when we militarized our society in response to the global terrorist threat, we created a new psychological atmosphere in which the use of force and military technology became a favored method for dealing with dissent of any kind. As Glenn writes:
The U.S. Government — in the name of Terrorism — has aggressively para-militarized the nation’s domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone military tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with para-military weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil… It’s a very small step to go from supporting the abuse of defenseless detainees (including one’s fellow citizens) to supporting the pepper-spraying and tasering of non-violent political protesters.
We had all of these arguments in the Bush years and it’s nothing new to assert that much of our population made a huge mistake in giving up so many of our basic rights to due process. What’s new is that we’re now seeing the political consequences of those decisions.
Again, when we abandoned our principles in order to use force against terrorists and drug dealers, the answer to the question, What are we defending? started to change.
The original answer, ostensibly, was, “We are defending the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the United States, their principles, and everything America stands for.”
Then after a while it became, “We’re defending the current population of the country, but we can’t defend the principles so much anymore, because they weigh us down in the fight against a ruthless enemy who must be stopped at all costs.”
Then finally it became this: “We are defending ourselves, against the citizens who insist on keeping their rights and their principles.”
What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us.
And we are stuck now with this fundamental conflict, whereby most of us are insisting that the law should apply equally to everyone, while the people running this country for years now have been operating according to the completely opposite principle that different people have different rights, and who deserves what protections is a completely subjective matter, determined by those in power, on a case-by-case basis. …
* NYPD STOPS REPORTERS WITH BADGES AND FISTS
By Michael Powell
… Another truth co-exists. At least since the Republican National Convention of 2004, our police have grown accustomed to forcibly penning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and reporters. On Monday, The New York Times and 12 other organizations sent a letter of protest to the Police Department. “The police actions of last week,” the authors said, “have been more hostile to the press than any other event in recent memory.”
Their letter offered five examples. I’ll mention one: As the police carried off a young protester whose head was covered in a crown of blood, a photographer stood behind a metal barricade and raised his camera. Two officers ran at him, grabbed the barrier and struck him in the chest, knees and shins. You are not permitted, the police yelled, to photograph on the sidewalk.
Covering New York can be a contact sport. We grunt, curse and toss elbows. I’ve run across the Brooklyn Bridge as protesters tossed bottles at cops, stood inside illegal squats on the Lower East Side as police massed outside, and walked through Crown Heights as communal tensions exploded. The rough rule was this: Treat cops reasonably and you can go about your business of recording and bearing witness.
Those feel like ancient days. Paul J. Browne, police deputy commissioner, denies what you see with your own eyes. “There’s no change in policy,” he wrote in an e-mail, saying the police establish lines for safety and to ensure that evidence is preserved.
As for the press secretary, Mr. Loeser, he and his staff took to Twitter like a cloud of gnats, insisting that the Associated Press and Daily News reporters had “clearly trespassed” by following demonstrators and the police through a fence into a vacant lot.
When I, as a columnist for The Times, questioned these arrests, a Bloomberg spokesman advised: “N.Y.T. policy does not allow breaking law to gather news as you know.” …
* MEET THE NEW RECESSION, SAME AS THE OLD RECESSION – FINANCIAL SECTOR DEVOURING A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF REVENUES. SHARE OF WEALTH TO FINANCIAL SECOTR AT RECORD LEVELS
By My Budget 360
The middle class is being squeezed like a ripe tomato out of existence in the United States and the media is largely fixated on trivial nonsense, political theatre, and flashy car advertisements to keep people numb from the grim reality. The financial sector has become a large drag on the overall economy instead of serving as the lubricant of real business growth. A similar thing happened during the years prior to the Great Depression. A massive amount of wealth was pushed to a segment of society based on gambling and large bets. Making money on doing no actual work or really producing anything of real substance. These massive misallocations of resources cause bubbles and pop with gusto. The big difference this time, and this is even more troubling, is that nothing has been changed to fix the system that led us into this precarious dark hole of financial graft. Our politicians work for the large financial institutions and most of the public is starting to realize what is good for banks is not necessarily what is good for the middle class.
Meet the New Recession, same as the Old Recession
Income inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet like most things in life, there are always extremes and unfortunately we have a system that doesn’t reward hard work but actually rewards those that are politically connected and have power to write the laws even if they economically fail. They thrive merely because of their plutocratic connections. Massive income inequality leads to distortions in the system: …
* HOW UC DAVIS CHANCELLOR LINDA KATEHI BROUGHT OPPRESSION BACK TO GREECE’S UNIVERSITIES
By Mark Ames, Naked Capitalism
A friend of mine sent me this link claiming that UC Davis chancellor “Chemical” Linda Katehi, whose crackdown on peaceful university students shocked America, played a role in allowing Greece security forces to raid university campuses for the first time since the junta was overthrown in 1974. (H/T: Crooked Timber) I’ve checked this out with our friend in Athens, reporter Kostas Kallergis (who runs the local blog “When The Crisis Hits The Fan”), and he confirmed it–Linda Katehi really is the worst of all possible chancellors imaginable, the worst for us, and the worst for her native Greece.
First, some background: Last week, The eXiled published two pieces on Greece’s doomed struggle against global financial institutions—an article on how the EU and Western bankers essentially overthrew the nearly-uppity government of prime minister George Papandreou, and replaced it with a banker-friendly “technocratic” government that includes real-life, no-bullshit neo-Nazis and fascists from the LAOS party, fascists with a banker-friendly fetish for imposing austerity measures. One of those fascists, Makis “Hammer” Voridis, spent his early 20s “hammering” non-fascist students for sport. Voridis was booted out of Athens University law school after ax-bashing fellow law students who didn’t share his fascist ideology. Today, Mikaes Voridis is the Minister for Infrastructure in the “technocratic” government. Imagine Lt. John Pike in leather and an 80s hairdo, carrying a homemade ax rather than a pepper spray weapon, and you have Makis “Hammer” Voridis.
We also published a powerful and necessary history primer by Greek journalist Kostas Kallergis on the almost-holy significance of the date November 17 in contemporary Greek history. On that day in 1973, pro-democracy students at the Athens Polytechnic university were crushed by tanks and soldiers sent in by the ruling junta dictatorship, which collapsed less than a year later, returning democracy to Greece. With CIA backing, the generals in the junta overthrew Greece’s democracy in 1967, jailed and tortured suspected leftists (meaning students and union leaders), and even went the extra-weird-fascist mile by banning the Beatles, mini-skirts, long hair, along with Mark Twain and Sophocles. The student rebellion at the Polytechnic, and its martyrdom, became the symbol for Greeks of their fight against fascism and tyranny, something like the briefcase man at Tiananmen Square, or the slaughtered rebels of the Boston Tea Party. That is why, as soon as the junta was overthrown and democracy restored in 1974, Greece immediately banned the presence of army, police or state security forces on university campuses. This so-called “university asylum” law turned Greece’s university campuses into cop-free zones of “political asylum,” where no one could interfere in the students’ rights to dissent against the government.
Today, thanks in part to UC Davis chancellor “Chemical” Linda Katehi, Greek university campuses are no longer protected from state security forces. She helped undo her native country’s “university asylum” laws just in time for the latest austerity measures to kick in. Incredibly, Katehi attacked university campus freedom despite the fact that she was once a student at the very center of Greece’s anti-junta, pro-democracy rebellion–although what she was doing there, if anything at all, no one really knows.
Here’s the sordid back-story: Linda Katehi was born in Athens in 1954 and got her undergraduate degree at the famous Athens Polytechnic. She just happened to be the right age to be a student at the Polytechnic university on the very day, November 17, 1973, when the junta sent in tanks and soldiers to crush her fellow pro-democracy students. It was only after democracy was restored in 1974–and Greek university campuses were turned into police-free “asylum zones”–that Linda Katehi eventually moved to the USA, earning her PhD at UCLA.
Earlier this year, Linda Katehi served on an “International Committee On Higher Education In Greece,” along with a handful of American, European and Asian academics. The ostensible goal was to “reform” Greece’s university system. The real problem, from the real powers behind the scenes (banksters and the EU), was how to get Greece under control as the austerity-screws tightened. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that squeezing more money from Greece’s beleaguered citizens would mean clamping down on Greece’s democracy and doing something about those pesky Greek university students. And that meant taking away the universities’ “amnesty” protection, in place for nearly four decades, so that no one, nowhere, would be safe from police truncheons, gas, or bullets.
Thanks to the EU, bankers, and UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi, university freedom for Greece’s students has taken a huge, dark step backwards.
Here you can read a translation of the report co-authored by UC Davis’ Linda Katehi–the report which brought about the end of Greece’s “university asylum” law.What’s particularly disturbing is that Linda Katehi was the only Greek on that commission. Presumably that would give her a certain amount of extra sway–both because of her inside knowledge, and because of her moral authority among the other non-Greek committee members. And yet, Linda Katehi signed off on a report that provided the rationale for repealing Greece’s long-standing “university asylum” law. She basically helped undo the very heart and soul of Greece’s pro-democracy uprising against the junta.
And perfect timing too, now that one of Greece’s most notorious pro-junta fascists is a member of the new austerity government. …
* WHAT ENDLESS WAR LOOKS LIKE
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
Anonymous U.S. officials this morning are announcing in The Washington Post that they have effectively defeated what they call “the organization that brought us 9/11″ — Al Qaeda — by rendering it “operationally ineffective.” Specifically, “the leadership ranks of the main al-Qaeda terrorist network have been reduced to just two figures whose demise would mean the group’s defeat, U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials said.” And: “asked what exists of al-Qaeda’s leadership group beyond the top two positions, the official said: ‘Not very much’.”
You might think this means that the vastly expanded National Security and Surveillance States justified in the name of 9/11, as well as the slew of wars and other aggressive deployments which it spawned, can now be reversed and wound down. After all, the stated purpose of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) which provided legal cover to all of this was expressed in the very first line: “To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” The purpose of this authorized force was equally clear and limited: “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”
Now, the group which the U.S. government has always said was the one that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001″ is, according to this same government, “operationally ineffective.” So what does that mean in terms of policy? Absolutely nothing:
U.S. officials stressed that al-Qaeda’s influence extends far beyond its operational reach, meaning that the terrorist group will remain a major security threat for years.
Not just a threat — but a major security threat — “for years” to come. In fact, it turns out that the version of Al Qaeda that the U.S. just spent the last decade “defeating” on the ground that it perpetrated 9/11 does not even really matter: “U.S. counterterrorism officials now assess al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen as a significantly greater threat.” Even in Pakistan, where the “effectively inoperable” group is based, the CIA refuses even to reduce its activities: “letting up now could allow them to regenerate,” an anonymous official decreed. And if that’s not enough to keep your fear levels sufficiently high to support (or at least acquiesce to) more militarism, there is always this: “The arrest this week of an alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer in New York underscored the group’s ability to inspire ‘lone wolf’ attacks.”
That last bit about the “lone wolf” refers to the scary Terrorist Super-Villain, Jose Pimental, caught and unveiled at a dramatic Press Conference this week by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: a Terrorist even more hapless and inept than the failed Texan used car salesman whose chronic inability to find his keys didn’t prevent him from being recruited as a dastardly Terrorist Mastermind by Iran’s elite Quds Force. This latest frightening lone wolf menace, according to The New York Times, “had little money to speak of, was unable to pay his cellphone bill and scrounged for money to buy the drill bits that court papers said he required to make his pipe bombs” and, furthermore, “had trouble drilling the small holes that needed to be made in the metal tubes.” Also, he “lived with his uncle in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood after his mother threw him out recently, appears to be unstable, according to several of the people briefed on the case, three of whom said he had tried to circumcise himself.”
Even the FBI — which specializes in converting hapless Muslim youth into Terrorists and then providing the planning, funding and training for the attacks, so they can jump in at the last minute and heroically disrupt the plots they themselves created — refused to get involved in this case out of “concern that the informer might have played too active a role in helping Mr. Pimentel.” In other words, even the Supreme Entrapers known as the FBI “were concerned that the case raised some entrapment questions” and “wondered whether Mr. Pimentel had the even small amount of money or technical know-how necessary to produce a pipe bomb on his own, had he not received help from the informer.” Also: they’re worried because many of Pimental’s recorded statements were made as he smoked marijuana with the NYPD’s informer as he guided Pimental to attack and instructed him how to do it. …
* WHY DO LIBERALS KEEP SANITIZING THE OBAMA STORY?
By Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
When I pleaded with liberals to stop ignoring President Obama’s failures on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the separation of powers, treating them as if they didn’t even merit a mention, the quintessential example of the troubling phenomenon hadn’t yet been published. Now it has. In New York, one of America’s premier magazines, Jonathan Chait, a sharp, experienced political writer, has penned a 5,000 word essay purporting to defend the president’s first term. It is aimed at liberal critics who, in Chait’s telling, naively expected too much.
Tellingly, as Chait writes for affluent urban liberals who railed against the Bush Administration’s excesses in the War on Terrorism, he neither desires nor feels compelled to grapple with President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, national security, or homeland security. The closest he comes in a piece overwhelmingly focused on domestic policy and political maneuvering is the breezy assertion that Obama “has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes — expanding targeted strikes against Al Qaeda (including one that killed Osama bin Laden), ending the war in Iraq, and helping to orchestrate an apparently successful international campaign to rescue Libyan dissidents and then topple a brutal kleptocratic regime.”
Isn’t that something?
Apparently it isn’t even worthy of mention that Obama’s actions in Libya violated the War Powers Resolution, the president’s own professed standards for what he can do without Congressional permission, and the legal advice provided to him by the Office of Legal Counsel.
In Chait’s telling, expanded drone strikes in Pakistan are a clear success. Why even grapple with Jane Mayer’s meticulously researched article on the risks of an drone war run by the CIA, Glenn Greenwald’s polemics on the innocent civilians being killed, or Jeff Goldberg and Marc Ambinder’s reporting on the Pakistani generals who are moving lightly guarded nuclear weapons around the country in civilian trucks as a direct consequence of the cathartic bin Laden raid.
Chait mentions the Iraq withdrawal, but doesn’t point out that Obama sought to violate his campaign promise, and would’ve kept American troops in the country beyond 2011 had the Iraqis allowed it; that as it is, he’ll leave behind a huge State Department presence with a private security army; and that he’s expanding America’s presence elsewhere in the Persian Gulf to make up for the troops no longer in Iraq. Is any of that possibly relevant to a liberal’s assessment?
Perhaps most egregiously, Chait doesn’t even allude to Obama’s practice of putting American citizens on a secret kill list without any due process, or even consistent, transparent standards.
Nor does he grapple with warrantless spying on American citizens, Obama’s escalation of the war on whistleblowers, his serial invocation of the state secrets privilege, the Orwellian turn airport security has taken, the record-breaking number of deportations over which Obama presided, or his broken promise to lay off medical marijuana in states where dispensing it is legal.
Why is all this ignored? …
* TORTURE’S FUTURE
By Eric Lewis, NYTimes
As a candidate in 2008, President Obama stated categorically, “We’ll reject torture — without exception or equivocation.” During his first month in office, he made good on his pledge, signing an executive order prohibiting torture or inhumane treatment. There is no reason to doubt that the order has been followed. This was a huge step forward for the United States.
But if he loses the presidency next year, Obama’s failure to deal with the legacy of torture that he inherited may turn out to be a huge problem. He has left the door open for state-sanctioned torture to be part of the next administration’s tool kit for dealing with the “global war on terror.” The leading Republican candidates understand that in many circles advocating torture is good politics. In their debates and in their foreign policy pronouncements, they are effectively capitalizing on a series of decisions that the Obama administration made as it failed to enshrine its own ban on torture as an absolute legal norm. Torture remains on the table as a future policy choice.
So what happened? The president has rejected three clear opportunities to erect a high legal wall against the return of torture: he has made it clear that criminal prosecutions for torture will not go forward; he has opposed the creation of a truth commission to examine events comprehensively; and he has affirmatively intervened to stop civil litigation by detainees against their torturers.
When President Obama took office, I was in the midst of litigating a civil case against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the military chain of command for torture. A panel of judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had found that as “aliens without presence or property in the United States,” Guantánamo detainees had no right not to be tortured under the Constitution and, in any event, even if there were such rights, there was no reason that Rumsfeld and other military leaders should have been aware that the right to be free from torture was “clearly established.” Accordingly they were immune from suit. In 2009, the Supreme Court directed that the Court of Appeals reconsider its decision in light of its recent finding in Boumediene v. Bush of a constitutional right to habeas corpus for detainees at Guantánamo.
Surely, I thought, the new administration would weigh in and support the argument that there was an inarguable and fundamental right not to be tortured by the government of the United States. What’s more, supporting civil actions for damages would have allowed the facts of torture to emerge through judicial proceedings, avoiding the political conflict of direct executive involvement.
Instead, the Obama administration slammed the door on constitutional challenges to torture. It reiterated the Bush administration’s position, arguing that “aliens held at Guantánamo do not have due process rights,” limiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene to habeas corpus only. In other words, it was the position of the Obama administration that even though the Supreme Court had found a constitutional right for detainees to challenge their confinement, detainees had no constitutional right not to be tortured while in confinement. The Obama administration also insisted that it was not sufficiently clear that the Constitution prohibited torture of aliens, and so “a reasonable officer would not have concluded that plaintiffs here possessed Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights while they were detained at Guantánamo.”
Yet reasonable officers have known since the founding of the republic that military law prohibits torturing prisoners and, since the 1930s, that it was cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of due process to torture prisoners in the custody of the United States. What these officers apparently could not have been expected to figure out was whether by bringing prisoners to Guantánamo, they could evade the Constitutional ban on torture or prisoners. Finally, the Obama administration warned that civil remedies for torture would “enmesh the courts in military, national security, and foreign affairs matters that are the exclusive province of the political branches.” In plain English, it is up to us — the executive — and not you — the courts — to decide whether detainees can be tortured or not.
While the norm against torture could have been enforced through criminal prosecution, even in the absence of the remedy of civil damages, the Obama administration then eliminated the option of prosecution. As a candidate, Obama called for a “thorough investigation” of detainee mistreatment; President-elect Obama, however, declared his “belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” No prosecutions have been brought and it is overwhelmingly likely that there will be none, despite the Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory, requiring criminal investigation where there are credible allegations of torture.
A South-African style truth commission, which would have had the virtue of getting all the facts out into the open and at least creating a record that would have precluded future officials from claiming that there was ambiguity or uncertainty about whether they had the power to torture under the Constitution, didn’t happen either, despite earlier indications of support. Harboring a vain hope for what has turned out to be imaginary reconciliation, the Obama administration has failed in its legal and moral obligation to create an effective and durable bar to torture. …
* TIME FOR OBAMA TO ACT TO END POLICE-STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE OCCUPIERS
By Dave Lindorff, This Can’t Be Happening
The growing number of video clips and photos showing police in Darth Vader-like riot gear assaulting peaceful demonstrators with everything from tear gas and mace to truncheons, point-blank shots with beanbags and rubber bullets, and of course the ubiquitous fist and club, have made a bad joke out of claims that America is either the land of the free or the home of the brave.
Scott Olson, a veteran of America’s Iraq War, suffered a severe brain injury that nearly killed him, and left him with difficulty speaking, thanks to a shot to his head by an attacking police officer in Oakland who was firing teargas canisters from a gun-like weapon. Olsen is lucky to be alive and will hopefully recover over time. A comrade, veteran Kayvan Sabehgi, who was retreating from advancing police that same night with his hands tucked in his pockets, can be seen being chased and so brutally beaten by another attacking thug cop that he had to be hospitalized for treatment of a lacerated spleen (although the cops left him writing in agony in a cell for hours before sending him to the hospital).
Old women, pregnant mothers-to-be, and even children have been hit with pepper spray, teargassed and terrorized by police goons in New York, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Dallas, Chicago, Boston and elsewhere in what is almost certainly a coordinated attack on the Occupy Movement being run out of Washington. One 19-year old pregnant woman, struck several times and pepper sprayed (but not arrested) by Seattle Police who were clearing out Occupiers there, suffered a miscarriage several days after suffering the assault. A 70-year old poet and retired professor at UC Berkeley was punched and knocked down by a policeman as he pleaded with the police not to hurt protesting students. His wife had been knocked to the ground just before him.
Americans have been watching these scenes of cops assaulting peaceful demonstrators in shock. They are used to seeing this kind of thing going on in Latin America or the Middle East or Asia, and our own government would always make noises of protest. Now it’s happening here at home. …