Uses of dictatorship & domination|Dandicat on torture & Bush

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Ezili Danto
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Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

Uses of dictatorship & domination|Dandicat on torture & Bush

Post by Ezili Danto » Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:03 pm

Justice denied. Impunity reigns. Vampires and their Black intermediaries, disguised as civilized, beautiful folks, feed on the blood and resources of the poor and Black. Equals the Haitian story. "La Banque du sang noir" is still a cash cow. More than $2 Billion was spent from 1994 to 1998 in Haiti to "uphold democracy!" And, in this second occupation, in less than ten years, another few billions have been spent since Feb. 2004. Nothing has been reformed, but many, the same old suspects, are definitely richer. Over 10,000 Haitians murdered to this profit since 2004. A gruesome and grim spectacle not seen since the Duvalier regimes. And, with the Internationals firmly grounded in Haiti, the UN as corporate proxies, this masturbating on Black pain, blood and resources in Haiti, has no end in sight.

Where, for instance, is d'André Labay these days? Shouldn't these folks be pursued in the fashion the old Nazis where by the Jews and brought to justice no matter how long it takes?

[quote]...Il convient aussi de rappeler le rôle du sinistre Luckner Cambronne dans une sombre affaire de trafic de sang qui avait causé la mort de nombreux haitiens des couches défavorisées et rapporté beaucoup d'argent aux puissants du régime des Duvalier. La "Banque du sang noir", fut créée avec le concours d'André Labay, un industriel et producteur de cinéma mafieux français qui avait déjà fait les 400 coups au Yémen, au Liban ou en Afrique. Peu après son arrivée en Haiti, il était devenu très proche de Duvalier et même l'amant de sa fille aînée Marie-Denise. Intermédiaire privilégié dans plusieurs transactions secrètes entre Haiti, les Etats-Unis et la Grèce et responsable de l'émission de 50.000 timbres d'or à l'effigie du dictateur haitien, le mercenaire Labay fut l'associé de Cambronne dans le fameux laboratoire installé en plein cœur de Port-au-Prince et qui achetait aux haitiens au prix de quinze gourdes (trois dollars américains, selon le taux de change de l'époque) le litre du plasma sanguin. Le produit était exporté aux Etats-Unis, en Allemagne et en Suède où il était utilisé dans des hôpitaux.[/quote]

Does It Work?
President Bush says harsh interrogation tactics are a key tool in the War on Terror. Two authors consider the painful dilemma posed by his claim
By Edwidge Danticat
Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Washington Post ... t/outlook/


A few years ago, as I worked on a documentary film about torture survivors in exile from my native Haiti, I met a young woman who under questioning by a military officer was slapped until she became deaf in one ear, was forced to chew and swallow a campaign poster, and was kicked so hard in the stomach by booted feet that she kept slipping in and out of consciousness in a pool of her own urine and blood. Another woman had an arm chopped off and her tongue sliced in two before she was dumped in a mass grave, miles from her home.

When I met these women, some time had passed since their ordeals. But they could still feel the hammering of the blows and hear the menacing voices, threatening to drown them, dismember them and set them on fire. The younger woman, Marie Carmel, remembers thinking about her mother. Manman will surely die if I'm killed, she thought. I have to stay alive for her. Alerte, whose arm and tongue were severed, kept thinking about her children as she climbed out of the corpse-filled pit and crawled to the side of the road where she found help. Both had no idea how much pain they could endure until then. They wanted to live, they remembered, to defy their torturers, to tell their stories.

"There is no need for torture," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre. "Hell is the other." Those women saw hell and came back. However, neither one told their torturers what they wanted to know. Marie Carmel did not reveal the names of her fellow pro-democracy activists. Alerte did not divulge the whereabouts of her husband, who was the real object of her captors' search.

For many who remember -- just as these women do, and my own parents do -- what it means to live under a dictatorial regime, a regime in which citizens must leave work or school to witness public executions, torture is not just an individual affliction but a communal one. And now, when political leaders in the United States are asking us as a society to consider not only the legal and moral ramifications of torture but its effectiveness, we are brought closer to these regimes than we may think. If we are part of all that has touched us, as Alfred Tennyson wrote, then we are all endorsers of torture when it is done in our name.

Torture aims for a single goal -- obtaining information -- but it achieves a slew of others. For one thing, it martyrizes the tortured. Think of the old Christlike images of Che Guevara's corpse in Bolivia -- or even of Christ himself.

While working on the documentary and researching the novel it eventually inspired, I interviewed torturers as well as their victims. I realized that torture diminishes us all by numbing us to human distress; the level of callousness in the society rises, with once unimaginable acts suddenly charted and rationalized.

"This is why we have this proverb," one repentant torturer told me, " bay kou bliye pote mak sonje ." The one who strikes the blow might easily forget, but the one who wears the scars must remember.

When seemingly noble ideals -- after all, what can be nobler than wanting to save lives? -- lead us to torture, the path to the torture chamber can find its way to our front door, just as it did for Marie Carmel, Alerte and countless others before them.

"The people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes . . . " wrote Aldous Huxley, "these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they're the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals."

As a child growing up in a dictatorial state, I always dreaded the pounding I heard at some of my neighbors' doors at night, when many were yanked from their beds never to be seen again. The lucky ones returned from a pit that was as much a physical place as a darkness that would always surround them. They were missing an eye or some teeth; they showed swelling that would take weeks to go down or shaking that worsened over time. These markers of torment first drew me to people such as Marie Carmel and Alerte, women who could have been my mother or myself.

When I first encounter men and women who've been tortured, I notice their dramatic and disfiguring scars. But eventually I recognize their hardened core and, more often than not, their reinforced defiance and renewed commitment to that for which they were abused.

When I meet former torturers, they don't proudly stand up and say, "Here I am, a torturer." Unless they're infamous, they have sought to compartmentalize their lives. At a lively game of dominoes or across a family dinner table, they can distance themselves from their past in a way that their victims can never even attempt. Occasionally, though, they are unwittingly exposed by a child who might say, "Papa was in the military and worked in such-and-such prison at such-and-such time." The torturers squirm and change the subject, knowing they've been unmasked.

Rare is the opportunity, as we seem to have now, for the torturer to plot out methods in advance and in public. Should a person be strapped to a board and have water poured down his nose? Should she be forced to stand for long periods of time in the cold without being allowed to sleep? Should he be slapped in the chest, face or belly? These are almost novelistic questions with no more rational answers than some haywire plot or dark verse.

After first reading it as a young girl newly escaped from Jean-Claude Duvalier's dictatorship in Haiti, I recently rediscovered a poem called "The Colonel" by Carolyn Forché. The narrator describes dining with a dictator who, after the luxurious meal, empties a bag full of human ears on the table.

"I am tired of fooling around," he tells his visitor. "As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go [expletive] themselves."

He lifts his glass of wine, and with one sweep of his arm, brushes the ears to the floor.

When the ears hit the ground -- like those of all my disappeared neighbors, I imagine -- the narrator notices that some of them are pressed to the floor while others are catching "this scrap of his voice."

My fear is that when it is most needed, none of our ears will bother to catch any voices at all. Then will the tortured see any reason to live on? And if they live, whom will they tell?

Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian American writer, is the author of "The Dew Breaker" (Knopf).

(Emphasis Added)

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:11 pm

Are we so fearful and in love with our own security that giving the benefit of the doubt to a suspicious individual is out of the question?

If an unknown and suspicious individual is roaming in your neighborhood, would you call the police, or would you ask him: May I help you?

Unfortunately, Torture is inevitable in our new world of terror where people die by the millions.
The big question is how far could the perpetrators of torture or the “intelligence world go in order to collect valuable information that could save million of innocent people's life?
Ms. Danticat wrote:
[quote]My fear is that when it is most needed, none of our ears will bother to catch any voices at all. Then will the tortured see any reason to live on? And if they live, whom will they tell?[/quote]
If there is no one in the forest to hear trees falling, it didn't happen! Si zorey pa tande, e je pa we, ke pap tounin!
Should we let a criminal go due to the fact that we may have reasonable doubt that he may be an innocent person?
Suppose this presumed innocent, four months later blow up the Sears tower in Chicago, would you have the same feeling?
Desolately to say Ezili and unfortunately, torture is here to stay.
Our hope is to continue encouraging the victims and the witnesses to come forward to denounce unlawful tactics of collecting information, and the perpetrators to confess.


Empress Verite

Danticat on Torture

Post by Empress Verite » Wed Sep 27, 2006 8:57 pm

Sak Pase all?

Thanks a bunch Ezili for posting this article. I find it quite interesting in light of the fact that Edwidge's uncle was murdered and tortured by INS and Homeland Security. These folks have taken over Miami and South Florida and they've got so many Haitians in their pockets. These sell out isolator/ostricizers try to bully regular people everywhere all of the times. I feel strongly that Edwidge herself should have printed this article and passed it around her own block in Little Haiti and to her big shot friends at the University of Miami and she should make sure to have ALL of her relatives and close friends read it and discuss it. For instance, I would like to know how they perpetuate and promote this kind of atrocity/torture of innocent folks in their daily lives. Miami is the battleground for poor people or outspoken folks who don't wear designer duds and do not attempt to look white (shall we say). Many of these folks like her uncle suffer on a daily basis from abuse, verbal and physical at the hands of "normal" looking folks like Edwidge who have seemingly decided to look the other way when this abuse occurs.

I recall so many such incidents when the writer chose to look the other way with a smirk. I have not reached the heights of fame and fortune. And I am not seeking to. Nor do I have friends in high places and neither do I have skin color or height priviledge (I also did not graduate from Ivy League institutions) but I am glad I have the gift of sight. I will always see the truth. And I have sworn never to look away from it.

The fact is that bullies are torturers. In Miami and especially in Little Haiti, they are plentiful. They make their day by picking on the small fries. It is a sad thing because I am a US born Haitian and here I am being abused mostly by natif natals. You go figure. They along with their 2nd generation fat brats and thier 1.5 sell out wannabes have made it their cause celeb shall we say to squash all dissent and to abuse revolutionary voices.

To write about the big issues and the events surrounding them like the torture of Haitians is one thing. We've all known folks who been through that what we need to do is to kill the buds. We have to stop those folks with the tendency to do this kind of thing from the get go. These are the sell outs wannabes who will do anything to get next to Massah. These are the folks who accuse the righteous courageous voices of jumping on the bandwagon everytime they shout against injustice and white priviledge. You know who you are, you will not always be safe. Us now you next.

And Michel, I don't understand your reference to the Sears Tower plot at all. Are you accusing these folks of being would be torturers. If so, I suggest strongly that you read over the material on this situation carefully before you judge. It's really about time that Haitians start being so lach and start standing up for those strong enough to fight the power.

I would like to ask all who read this article to please consider how they bully in their every day lives. For instance, do you use your skin color, your class, gender or institutional affiliation to get you there. And do you stop to smirk at those who cannot? Do you empathize with their plight or do you feel self righteous in your "success"? It seems to me that some of Edwidge's own possy, mainly the 1.5 smirk constantly at those of us who are not able to get there because we don't have those same priviledges and because we refuse to sell Haiti out for pennies. Go figure, I guess it is true, the weakest link can be the strongest tie after all.


Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:37 pm

Ezili wrote:[quote]the Internationals firmly grounded in Haiti, the UN as corporate proxies, this masturbating on Black pain, blood and resources in Haiti, has no end in sight.[/quote] I agree with you Ezili, I don't believe in endless masturbation.
This is a waste of resources (time, money and manpower). The UN needs to have a conceivable and realizable plan, a clear benchmark on how long they going to stay, and when they are going to leave and to give a progress report of their goal.
Li le pou voye an blan sa fini.
They need to commit or they need to quit.
empress verite wrote:
[quote]And Michel, I don't understand your reference to the Sears Tower plot at all. Are you accusing these folks of being would be torturers.[/quote]These young Haitians have been accusing of plotting against the National Security of the Federal government. They are our blood and we should be concerned about their well being.
Where are they now, and who is looking over them?
How much do they know about Osama Ben Laden, and Al-Qaeda?
Were they kidding, like young Haitians usually do?
During my days, a lot of juvenile and immature young Haitian boys were passionate about Communism, El Che, Castro, Riobe, Brisson, and “les 13 Jeunes”. They thought that it was cool at that time. A lot of them were tortured and kill by the Duvalier regime for nothing.
I made reference to the Sears tower because they have been detained for plotting to blow it up. This is not fiction! This is real.
Are they being tortured?
Who knows? But what I know is, I am happy that the Federal government got them first before they become suicide bombers. At least they are still alive, and their parents are not crying.

Apharion wrote:
[quote]Since when did we decide to become the bad guys?[/quote]They are cutting Americans and coalition force members head live in TV!!
It's not a matter of being the bad guys. It's a matter of being proactive about National Security. Let's get them first before they get us.
Le jeux force a couper!!


Empress Verite

The Miami 7 were Entrapped

Post by Empress Verite » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:45 pm

Greetings Michel:

Thank you for clarifying what you wrote about the Miami 7. These young men were entrapped. They were railroaded into this situation by sinister and self hating individuals who felt that they could sell out their own kind. Although there was little proof of their intent they were still entrapped and are now facing imprisonment without Habeas Corpus. Please read Edwidge well. She and I grew up in Ayiti at the same time. Folks came back home maimed and dismembered or disfigured and it was widely discussed but people were too affraid to do anything about it. Whether or not the parents know where these guys are is not the issue, the fact is they had no means of carrying out their so-called plan.
On top of it, their primary profession was construction and they were going on with their lives happily. Secondly, how do you plan to regain your rights exactly through civil disobedience and passive obervation? That did not even work for Ghandi or MLK or John Lennon. I know a lot of so-called Budhist loving individuals. In fact, I used to go to their superficial peaceful gatherings. It was all pretense. A neat way for the well to do to appease their guilt. It was like being around the Quakers who preach peace but are racist, and violent toward black people. Remember Richard Nixon? He was a Quaker.
I don't begrudge anyone who feel that they can no longer turn the other cheek and instead choose to fight back by any means necessary. The Honorable El Hadj El Malik Shabazz aka Malcom X also realized this when he had to be vigilant about his family's safety and strove to protect them with his own riffle everytime. I don't think that those guys had any such plan because Al Quaida is as much of a racist and anti black organization as any of those Middle Eastern Islamic ones are. They don't like dark skin black folks and they certainly do not like poor people or those with dreadlocks let alone Haitians! Ben Laden would have never allowed those guys into their midsts. Any good intelligence could have told them that.

Let's get it together folks and go after the true vioolators and KKKriminal perpetrators.

Mesi anpil

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Fri Sep 29, 2006 5:20 pm

In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: "[quote]The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right.[/quote]
Alas !!!
Emperess Verite wrote:[quote]Although there was little proof of their intent they[young Haitians group] were still entrapped and are now facing imprisonment without Habeas Corpus.[/quote]

You are right Emperess, yet the interrogation bill headed for Bush's desk would allow him to detain anyone indefinitely and decide (privately) what constitutes torture; it eliminates habeas corpus and judicial review, and it permits coerced evidence.

The Republicans have made it clear that they'll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler.
The bill simply removes a suspect's right to challenge his detention in court.
It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.
The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.
One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

Some people are saying: This bill is not a national security issue -- this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies.
This bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary -- these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.

Washington, DC, Combined News.

Empress Verite

Sans Habeas Corpus

Post by Empress Verite » Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:22 pm

Sak Pase Michel et all?

What can we do? The CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) has argued that this was a death blow to human rights in the US especially against non US born citizens. Michael Ratner, also said today on Democracy Now! that the Senators who voted for the bill should be held for war crimes and I agree. How could we do this? The WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) outlined in an article today how this might bring us back to 900 years ago back to the Western European days without law or human rights. (This article is posted on the South Africa and Desmond Tutu thread.)

I signed the petition that the CRC sent me a letter to my Senator Bill Nelson and I forwarded it to many other folks. I feel that too many folks dragged their feet on this. Especially since this applies to any Haitian person who may be caught in the system for immigration or other non-terror related issues. Many forget that Haitians and Cubans were the first to be held in GitMO (Guantanamo) and some are still there. Now that the Muslims and Arabs are being processed there because of the war on terror the media is giving this air time. ( As an aside, it is my view that this is because they have social capital and their ethnicity, race and places of origin have currency in the US economy whereas the Haitians don't have these things). I am going to continue watching the CRC and read what they send me to further understand what comes next.

Until then, here is the article on Democracy Now!
Friday, September 29th, 2006
“A Total Rollback Of Everything This Country Has Stood For”: Sen. Patrick Leahy Blasts Congressional Approval of Detainee Bill

The Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The legislation strips detainees of the right to challenge their own detention and gives the President the power to detain them indefinitely. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. We get reaction from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. On Capitol Hill, the Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The editors of the New York Times described the law as tyrannical. They said its passage marks a low point in American democracy and that it is our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts. The legislation strips detainees of the right to file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their own detention or treatment. It gives the president the power to indefinitely detain anyone it deems to have provided material support to anti-U.S. hostilities. Secret and coerced evidence could be used to try detainees held in U.S. military prisons. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year.

The Senate passed the measure sixty five to thirty four. Twelve Democrats joined the Republican majority. The House passed virtually the same legislation on Wednesday. Legal groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, are already preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the law in court.

* Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. See Senator Leahy's statement on the detainee bill here.

* Michael Ratner. President of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont condemned the legislation from the floor of the Senate.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: It grieves me to think that three decades in this body that I stand here in the Senate, knowing that we're thinking of doing this. It is so wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American. It is designed to ensure the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power. The Supreme Court said, ‘You abused your power.' He said, ‘Ha, we'll fix that. We have a rubber stamp, a rubber stamp, Congress, that will just set that aside and give us power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having.'

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy speaking Thursday prior to the vote. He joins us now on the telephone. Welcome to Democracy Now!

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us, Senator. Now, if you could explain exactly what this bill that the Senate has just approved with a number of Democrats joining with the Republicans, what exactly it does.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: First off, as you probably gathered from what I was saying on the floor, it's a terrible bill. It removes as many checks and balances as possible so that any president can basically set the law, determine what laws they'll follow and what laws they'll break and not have anybody be able to question them on it.

In this case, the particular section I was speaking about at that point was the so-called habeas protection. Now, habeas corpus was first brought in the Magna Carta in the 1200s. It's been a tenet of our rights as Americans. And what they're saying is that if you're an alien, even if you're in the United States legally, a legal alien, may have been here ten years, fifteen years, twenty years legally, if a determination is made by anybody in the executive that you may be a threat, they can hold you indefinitely, they could put you in Guantanamo, not bring any charges, not allow you to have a lawyer, not allow you to ever question what they've done, even in cases, as they now acknowledge, where they have large numbers of people in Guantanamo who are there by mistake, that they put you -- say you're a college professor who has written on Islam or for whatever reason, and they lock you up. You're not even allowed to question it. You're not allowed to have a lawyer, not allowed to say, “Wait a minute, you've got the wrong person. Or you've got -- the one you're looking for, their name is spelled similar to mine, but it's not me.” It makes no difference. You have no recourse whatsoever.

This goes so much against everything we've ever done. Now, we've had some on the other side say, ‘Well, they're trying to give rights to terrorists.' No, we're just saying that the United States will follow the rules it has before and will protect rights of people. We're not giving any new rights. We're just saying that if, for example, if you picked up the wrong person, you at least have a chance to get somebody independent to make that judgment.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, on this issue of habeas corpus, I want to play a clip from yesterday's Senate debate and have you respond. This is Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: It was never, ever, ever, ever intended or imagined that during the War of 1812, that it British soldiers were captured burning of the Capitol of the United States, as they did, that they would have been given habeas corpus rights. It was never thought to be. habeas corpus was applied to citizens, really, at that time, and I believe that that's so plain as to be without dispute.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. Senator Leahy, your response.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Well, I wish it was as plain as he says. Of course, in the Hamdan decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it very clear that it is available in somebody captured. In a case like what he was talking about, if somebody had been captured there and held in prison, and they said, “You have the wrong person,” they could at least raise it. And you also have, of course, under the Constitution, that habeas can be suspended if there is an invasion, if there is an insurrection. We have neither case here. Even the most conservative Republican legal thinkers have said this is not a case to suspend habeas corpus.

You know, they can set up all the straw men they want, but the fact is this allows the Bush administration to act totally arbitrarily with no court or anybody else to raise any questions about it. It allows them to cover up any mistakes they make. And this goes beyond just marking everything “secret,” as they do now. Every mistake they make, they just mark it “secret.” But this is even worse. This means somebody could be locked up for five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years. They have the wrong person, and they have no rights to be able to say, “Hey guys, you've got the wrong person.” It goes against everything that we've done as Americans.

You know, when things like this were done during the Cold War in some of the Iron Curtain countries, I remember all the speeches on the Senate floor, Democrats and Republicans alike saying, “How horrible this is! Thank God we don't do things like this in America.” I wish they'd go back and listen to some of their speeches at that time.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, this was not a close vote: 65 to 34. The twelve Democrats who joined with the Republicans, except for Senator Chafee of Rhode Island, the twelve Democrats are Tom Carper of Delaware, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, as well as Senator Menendez of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senator Pryor of Arkansas, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. They joined with the Republicans. You are working very hard to get a Democratic majority in the Senate in these next elections and in Congress overall. What difference would it make?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: In their defense, all but one of them voted with me when we moved to strike the habeas provisions out. That was the Specter-Leahy amendment, and we had, I think it was, 51-48, I think, was the final vote on that. All but one of the Democrats joined with me on that. If we had gotten three or four more Republicans, we would have at least struck out the habeas provision. There are -- you know, I --

AMY GOODMAN: But they voted for this bill without that, with the habeas provision being stripped out.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: I'll let each one speak for themselves. The fact that the Republicans were virtually lockstep in it, though, should be what I would look at. And maybe we're blessed in Vermont --

AMY GOODMAN: But that larger question, that larger question of, what would be any different if Democrats were in power?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: For one thing, we would have been asking the questions about what's been going on for six years. We've had a rubberstamp congress that automatically has given the President anything he wants, because nobody's asked questions. Nobody's asked the questions that are in the Woodward book that's coming out this weekend, where you find all the mistakes were made because they will acknowledge no mistakes. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate. They will not call hearings. They won't try to find out how did Halliburton walk off with billions of dollars in cost overruns in Iraq. Why did the Bush administration refuse to send the body armor our troops needed in Iraq? Why did they send inferior material?

And, of course, the two questions that the Congress would not ask, because the Republicans won't allow it, is, why did 9/11 happen on George Bush's watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen? And secondly, when they had Osama bin Laden cornered, why didn't they get him? Had there been an independent congress, one that could ask questions, these questions would have been asked years ago. We'd be much better off. We would have had the answers to that. I think with those answers, we would not have the fiasco we have in Iraq today, we would have caught Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan would be a more stable place, and the world would be safer.

AMY GOODMAN: Was President Bush on Capitol Hill yesterday?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, yes, indeed. You can always tell, because virtually the whole city comes to a screeching halt with the motorcades, although it's sort of like that when Dick Cheney comes up to give orders to the Republican Caucus. He comes up with a 15 to 25 vehicle caravan. It's amazing to watch.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was Bush doing yesterday on Capitol Hill?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, he was just telling them they had to vote this way. They had to vote. They couldn't hand him a defeat. They had to go with him They had to trust him. It'll get us past the election. We had offered a -- you know, five years ago, I and others had suggested there is a way to have military tribunals for the detainees, where it would meet all our standards and basic international standards. They rejected that. And now, five weeks before the elections, they say, ‘Oh, yes, we need something like that.' No, basically what he was saying to them, don't ask questions, get us past the elections, because if you ask questions, the answers are going to be embarrassing, and it could hurt you in the elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, we have to break for one minute. We ask you to stay with us. We'll also be joined by CCR president, Center for Constitutional Rights president, Michael Ratner.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is president there. Michael Ratner, your response, as we speak with the senator about this groundbreaking legislation?

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, I think Senator Leahy really got it right. I mean, what this bill authorizes is really the authority of an authoritarian despot to the president. I mean, what it gives him is the power, as the senator said, to detain any person anywhere in the world, citizen or non-citizen, whether living in the United States or anywhere else. I mean, what kind of authority is that? No checks and balances. Nothing. Now, if you're a citizen, you still get your right of habeas corpus. If you're a non-citizen, as the senator pointed out, you're completely finished. Picked up, legal permanent resident in the United States, detained forever, no writ of habeas corpus.

It was incredibly shocking. I watched that vote yesterday. I had been in Washington for two or three days trying to line up the votes for Senator Leahy's amendment that would have restored habeas. We thought we had them. We lost at 51 to 48. I have to tell you, Amy, I just -- I basically broke down at that point. I had been working like a dog on this thing. And there I saw the President come to Capitol Hill and persuade two or three or four of the Republicans who we thought we had to vote to strip habeas corpus from this legislation. It was a shock. I mean, an utter shock.

So you have this ability to detain anyone anywhere in the world. You deny them the writ of habeas corpus. And when they're in detention, you have a right to do all kinds of coercive techniques on them: hooding, stripping, anything really the president says goes, short of what he defines as torture. And then, if you are lucky enough to be tried, and I say “lucky enough,” because, for example, the 460 people the Center represents at Guantanamo may never get trials. In fact, only ten have even been charged. Those people, they've been stripped of their right to go to court and test their detention by habeas corpus. They're just -- they've been there five years. Right now, under this legislation, they could be there forever.

Let me tell you, this bill will be struck down and struck down badly. But meanwhile, for two more years or whatever it's going to take us to litigate it, we're going to be litigating what was a basic right, as the senator said, since the Magna Carta of 1215, the right of any human being to test their detention in court. It's one of the saddest days I've seen. You've called it “groundbreaking,” Amy. It's really Constitution-breaking. It's Constitution-shattering. It shatters really basic rights that we've had for a very long time.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Leahy, how long have you been a senator?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: I've been there 32 years. I have to absolutely agree with what I just heard. I mean, this is -- it's Kafka. But it's more than that. It's just a total rollback of everything this country has stood for. I mean, you have 100 people, very privileged, members of the Senate voting this way and with no realization of what it would be like if you were the one who was picked up. Maybe you're guilty, but quite often, as we've seen, purely by accident and then held for years.

You know, I was a prosecutor for eight years. I prosecuted an awful lot of people, sent a lot of people to prison. But I did it arguing that everybody's rights had to be protected, because mistakes are often made. You want to make sure that if you're prosecuting somebody, you're prosecuting the right person. Here, they don't care whether mistakes are made or not.

And you have to stand up. I mean, it was a Vermonter -- you go way back in history -- it was a Vermonter who stood up against the Alien and Sedition Act, Matthew Lyon. He was prosecuted on that, put in jail, as a congressman, put in jail. And Vermont showed what they thought of these unconstitutional laws. We in Vermont reelected him, and eventually the laws fell down. There was another Vermonter, Ralph Flanders, who stood up to Joseph McCarthy and his reign of fear and stopped that. I mean, you have to stand. What has happened, here we are, a great powerful good nation, and we're running scared. We're willing to set aside all our values and running scared. What an example that is to the rest of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: You gave an example, Senator Leahy, when you talked about what would happen here. And, I mean, even the fact that “habeas corpus” is in Latin, I think, distances people. They don't quite understand what this is about.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”

AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very -- sorry?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”

AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very graphic example. You said, “Imagine you're a law-abiding lawful permanent resident. In your spare time you do charitable fundraising for international relief agencies that lend a hand in disasters.” Take that story from there, the example you used.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: You send money. You don't care which particular religious group or civic group it is. They're doing humanitarian work. You send the money. It turns out that one of them is giving money to various Islamic causes that the United States is concerned about. They come to your house. Maybe somebody has called into one of these anonymous tipster lines, saying, “You know, this Amy Goodman. I'm somewhat worried about her, simply because she's going -- and I think I've seen some Muslim-looking people coming to her house.” They come in there, and they say, “We want to talk to you.” They bring you downtown. You're a legal alien, legal resident here. And you say, “Well, look, I've got my rights. I'd like to talk to a lawyer.” They say, “No, no. You don't have any rights.” “Well, then I'm not going to talk to you.” “Well, then now we're twice as concerned about you. We're going to spirit you down to Guantanamo, and we'll get back to in a few years.” And, I mean, that could actually happen under this. And these are not far-fetched ideas, as the professor knows. He's seen similar things.

And with that, and I would love to continue this conversation, unfortunately I've got to go back to my day job, back to the judiciary. I think this is going to go down as one of those black marks in the Congress. You know, I wasn't there at the time, but virtually everybody voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution. When I came to the Senate, you couldn't find anybody there who thought that was a good idea. They knew it was a terrible mistake. You had members of congress supported the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II. Everybody knows that was a terrible mistake now. That day will come when everybody will look at this and say, “What were we thinking?”

AMY GOODMAN: Patrick Leahy, thanks very much for joining us. We only have about 30 seconds. Michael Ratner, president of Center for Constitutional Rights, your final comment on this.

MICHAEL RATNER: This was really, as the senator said, probably the worst piece of legislation I've seen in my 40-year career as a lawyer. The idea, and even the example Senator Leahy gave, of someone being picked up, you don't need anything. The President can decide tomorrow that you, Amy, or me, or particularly a non-citizen, can be picked up, put in jail forever, essentially, and if you're a non-citizen in Guantanamo or anywhere else in the world, you never get a chance to go to court to test your detention. It's an incredible thing, and any senator who voted for this, in my view, is essentially guilty, guilty, guilty of undermining basic fundamental rights and may well be guilty of war crimes, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, thanks very much for joining us, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Ezili Danto
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Joined: Sat May 31, 2003 11:57 pm

The Erosion of Democracy and Freedom in America

Post by Ezili Danto » Mon Oct 02, 2006 2:40 pm

Thank you for the above article Empress Verite.

This is truly sad and morally depraved. We are indeed living in dark, dark times. The ugliness gets uglier. There's a need for a measure of moderation, a focus on how far is far enough to go to protect life. Where are the spiritual leaders of America? Is war and torture the only answer? Is destroying the earth worth protecting one's existence, our US lifestyle? Or, could we better use our energies by addressing US foreign "investments" that oppress, impoverishes, destroys lives, cultures, common ground, peaceful co-existence and consensus. Is numbing humanity by making torture a systematic, legal and necessary tool a satisfactory way of protecting certain "top-of-the-feeding-chain" human life forms, but not others? Has the Bush administration not put in jeopardy the very US freedoms, values and lifestyles it claims to be protecting? Are we truly facing such a powerfully ferocious, alien, twilight zone, inhumane and abominable enemy that the time has come to legalize barbarism or to push the self-destruct button ourselves?

A glimmer of hope may come November, if the public tips the Republican Congress' majority back, makes itself heard and the people's vote, this time, in the US is duly counted. Of course, in the newest version of the "land of the free and brave" that's almost not even a public expectation, much less a given.

[quote] The Erosion of Democracy and Freedom in America - by Stephen Lendman

On December 8, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the US Congress the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He said that "date....will live in infamy" because of what the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan did. Two and one-half months later on February 19, 1942, FDR himself committed an infamous act signing into law Executive Order 9066 which authorized the internment of 120,000 Japanese civilians, two-thirds of whom were US citizens. These Americans committed no crimes and were only "guilty" of being of Japanese ancestry and thus by presidential edict were judged potential enemies of the state. Because of FDR's action, these otherwise ordinary peace-loving Americans lost all their sacred constitutional protections including habeas corpus and their rights of trial by jury and to own and keep their property. They also lost their freedoms and were treated like criminals. They were sent to concentration camps where they were interned for the duration of the war until 1946.

It should be noted no similar action was taken against white German Americans. It seems the Japanese then were more guilty of their skin color and race than their country of national origin. The US Supreme Court agreed in their 1944 landmark Korematsu v. United States decision in which a Court majority ruled military necessity justified their internment.
Justice Frank Murphy and two other Justices disagreed denouncing the decision. In Justice Murphy's dissent, he said this act amounted to the "legalization of racism." It took until 1988 for the US Congress to undue this presidential act of infamy and High Court approval of it. It then passed Public Law 100-383 apologizing to those internees still living and their families, provided reparations for them (too late and far too inadequate), and created a public education fund to "inform the public about the internment of such individuals so as to prevent the recurrence of any similar event (ever again)."

Dare anyone suggest members of the 109th Congress have an immediate and urgent need for an industrial strength dose of its own re-education program. On two late September, 2006 days of infamy, the US House and Senate passed and sent to President Bush for his certain signature the Military Commissions Act of 2006 appropriately called "the torture authorization bill."

This clear unconstitutional act gives the administration extraordinary powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terror suspects and anyone thought to be their supporters. This law grants the executive branch (specifically President Bush) the extraordinary right to label anyone anywhere in the world an "unlawful enemy combatant" and gives him the legal right to arrest and incarcerate them indefinitely in military prisons. Persons liable will include anyone who even innocently contributes financially to a charitable organization thought to be associated with any nation or group the US believes supports terrorist or hostile actions against the US.

On September 27 and 28, 2006, freedom and justice effectively died in the US, and no one will be secure anywhere in the world as long as this act is the law of the land. One day it will be repealed - if the republic survives long enough to do it which now is very much in doubt.

US citizens are not exempted from this law with one important exception - for now at least. Because of the June, 2004 Supreme Court Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision, citizens of this country legally still retain their legal right to file a writ of habeas corpus if arrested and detained. This means they must be charged with a crime, be tried and allowed the right to appeal any conviction in a US court of law. But even this remaining right now hangs by a weak thread. It, too, may be abolished in the name of national security in a time of war if or when another major "terrorist" attack occurs on US soil. Should that happen, which some experts believe is a certainty, democracy will likely give way to martial law and the suspension of the constitution, and echos of Benjamin Franklin's words at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 will be heard. At that time, he reportedly said in answer to whether the nation now had a republic or a monarchy: "A republic, if you can keep it." We hardly need wonder what he'd say today.

Provisions in the Military Commissions Act

Some of the key elements of the Military Commissions Act are as follows:

-- It annuls the right of habeas corpus for all non-US citizens and applies it retroactively to all current detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution specifically says: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." This provision is now constitutionally null and void for all non-US citizens and nearly so for those of us who are.

-- It empowers the president with authority to decide what constitutes torture, effectively legalizing this act of barbarism henceforth against any detainee anywhere.

-- It grants US officials, including CIA operatives, retroactive immunity from prosecution for having authorized the use of torture or directly committed acts of it.

-- It prohibits detainees from the right to invoke the protections of the Geneva Conventions or the use of them in any US court. These conventions are binding international laws and thus the supreme law of the
land. It no longer matters here.

-- It gives the chief executive authority to interpret and apply the Geneva Conventions according to his sole judgment.

-- It grants the president the right to convene military commissions to try "unlawful enemy combatants" and gives the chief executive broad latitude to decide on his sole authority whomever he wishes to so-designate and for whatever reason.

-- It allows civilians to be tried by military commissions and not in a civilian court of law and limits the rights of detainees to be represented by
the counsel of their choosing.

-- It allows no guarantee trials will be conducted within a reasonable time.

-- In violation of binding international law, it permits torture-extracted evidence to be used against the accused in a trial.

-- It allows the use of classified evidence to be used but not to make it available to be challenged by defendants.

-- It permits hearsay evidence and coerced testimony to be used.

-- It allows military commissions to impose death sentences.

-- It allows indefinite and secret detentions.

On September 21, 2001, Amnesty International faxed a letter to George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. It urged the president to respect human rights and the rule of law in whatever response was to be undertaken. Specifically it said: "In the wake of a crime of such magnitude, principled leadership becomes crucial....We urge you to lead your government to take every necessary human rights precaution in the pursuit of justice." Five years later, Amnesty concluded "its appeal fell on deaf ears. The past five years have seen the USA engage in systematic violations of international law, with a distressing impact on thousands of detainees and their families."

Amnesty cited the following violations:

-- secret detentions

-- enforced disappearances

-- the use of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment

-- outrages of personal dignity including humiliating treatment

-- denial of habeas rights

-- indefinite detentions without charges or trials

-- prolonged detentions incommunicado

-- arbitrary detention

-- unfair trial procedures

Amnesty accused the Bush administration of hypocrisy saying that while claiming the US is a "nation of laws" adhering to the "rule of law," it practices the very policies it condemns. It said this administration's "interpretation of the law has been driven by its policy choices rather than a credible postulation of its legal obligations." It cynically interprets US and international law any way it chooses and as such acts outrageously and in contempt of all legal standards and norms. Amnesty also stated that by having passed the Military Commissions Act, the Congress has allowed thousands of detainees to remain in indefinite detention without charge or trial and to be legally subjected to the worst kinds of abuses. It
said "Congress has failed these detainees and their families. Those defending human rights should be prepared for a long struggle."

The Long Struggle to Save the Republic Has Begun

By its legislative action prior to recessing for the November congressional elections, the Congress shamelessly sunk to its lowest yet depths in pledging its fealty to a morally depraved president who believes no one has the right to challenge his authority, champions the use of torture, defies constitutional and international laws and norms, (law or no law) conducts secret surveillance through warrentless wiretaps or any other means, and believes dissent is an act of terrorism. In brazen defiance of over 200 years of governance under the rule of constitutional law, this Congress and president have made a mockery of every norm and standard the Founders stood for and handed down to us for posterity - if we could keep it.

By their actions, this body has shaken the very foundation of the republic. It gave the president near-unlimited authority to act as he chooses in the name of national security as he defines it. It simply means the rule of law effectively has been abolished and ordinary people no longer have constitutionally protected rights. For now, US citizens still have the right of habeas corpus, but it, too, may be taken from us in the name of national security. How low we've now sunk in coming so far.

In his 1935 novel, It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis showed it most certainly can happen here. He wrote about a charismatic senator who becomes president, claims to be a reformer and a champion of the common man. It's all cover to hide his alliance with the corporate interests of his day and the support of religious extremists he appeals to. Instead of serving the people he denies them their rights. He then takes full advantage of the Great Depression economic crisis to support a strong military and pass unconstitutional laws during a national emergency. He further convenes military tribunals for civilians and calls dissenters unpatriotic and even traitors. Sound familiar?

Anyone reading this book will be scared wondering if it really can happen here. Anyone living in the surreal age of George Bush and his out-of-control extremist neocon administration knows it sure can unless a way is found to stop it. This is no time for complacency.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at[/quote]

Empress Verite

Thank You Very Much Ezili

Post by Empress Verite » Mon Oct 02, 2006 4:35 pm

Mesi anpil Ezili:

This article outlines many of the issues in this recent ruling or law. We have lost our rights and so many are oblivious or don't care. For me it's like losing my Miranda rights. In fact, I am very concerned that local police and the State troopers might become more abusive. Police abuse happens mostly when the accused is held in custody. And so now we have more reason to be concern.

I have so many feelings about this and the article but I need time to gather my thoughts. I feel enraged and outraged that the so-called leaders like Jesse and the NAACP have not come out in full force to blast this. Many of the Democrats are afraid to voice their concern for fear that it might make them seem soft on terror.

Thanks again for providing an article that gives me much food for thought.

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