Category "Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror') "

U.S. Army Conducts Chemical Tests On Populations of American Cities

This is reason number 19,768 as to why we need organizations like WikiLeaks. For enabling whistleblowing and being engaged in publishing, they have been labeled by the Obama administration and the military as “enemies of the state.” Yet here, the state operates with impunity as an enemy of the people, and to the rights and dignity of the human person. So just who is the “enemy”, when this is the government at work for our “protection”?

It also makes you question just how concerned the U.S. government really is about the infliction of chemical weapons on civilians, such as what has been reported in Syria. After all, how morally outraged can you actually be by their use when you are the same institution responsible for the ongoing devastation caused by agent orange, depleted uranium in Iraq, and political policies such as This?

On a February night in 1953, a worker employed by the U.S. Army opened a valve on a motorized blower and for five minutes dispersed a mysterious fluffy powder into downtown St. Louis.

So began military-sponsored tests in St. Louis that remained secret for four decades and, to this day, raise questions about what the government was up to in the Cold War operation.


Martino-Taylor found in her research that the aerosol particles were milled so as to be easily absorbed into lungs.

“Under the sparkling stars and clear bright moon, as children, their parents, and grandparents, slept on their porches or beneath an open window to escape the blazing heat of a St. Louis summer, toxins drifted silently inside through open windows and settled into their lungs. The particulates were designed to be optimal size for deep inhalation by the sleeping, unsuspecting victims. It was the Cold War, and this was America.”

In an interview, Martino-Taylor acknowledged that she had uncovered no proof that St. Louisans were subject to radiological testing. But, she noted, “There’s an awful lot of evidence that there were radiological components to the study.”

Martino-Taylor approaches the testing from a sociological standpoint, noting that national and international codes of conduct prohibited testing on humans without their consent.

“There has to be a sense of betrayal here, of people being deceived and targeted by their own government,” she said.

“Even if there are laws in place which appear to protect people, without transparency, governments may be able to violate rights without their victims even knowing it. This case is an example of that.”

Read The Complete Report

As researcher Lisa Martino-Taylor’s report pointed out in this article

This vast project transcended national boundaries, Martino-Taylor noted, and ultimately targeted tens of thousands of unwitting, disempowered and dehumanized civilians, who were purposely tested for, and exposed to, toxic compounds without their knowledge or consent, in a blatant violation of civil and human rights. “Through understanding the specific elements and mechanisms of complex institutional deviance that disengage critical analysis, and pave the path towards victimization of populations, we can develop public policies that prioritize the publicís right to know, and construct checks and methods to minimize the chance of covert projects that are contrary to societal norms, human dignity and human rights,” Martino-Taylor said.

Democracy Now also did a brief news report on this as well.

This is by no means the only example of this kind of grotesque application of science, and manipulation of people, even whole populaces, by the U.S. government, in the name of “national security.” Too numerous to go into detail here, MKULTRA and the atomic radiation testing done in the mid-20th Century being only two of multitudes, the very informative film Human Resources goes to great lengths to provide a lot of background and examples of the abuse and exploitation of human beings by the powers-that-be, for means and ends beyond the knowledge or well-being of the people. A must-watch for any student of history.

American Voices For American Values: The Campaign To Ban Torture

January 21st, 2013 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror') , Video

“American Voices For American Values: The Campaign To Ban Torture” - Event which took place at the University of Dayton, October 13th, 2008, and sponsored by the UD Human Rights Studies program and the Center for the Victims of Torture. It was organized as part of the campaign to promote the adoption of the Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, which unequivocally rejects torture and cruelty to prisoners, and which was signed into law by President Obama on his third day in office. This program features presentations and audience discussions with a number of former high-ranking CIA, defense department and military officials, as well as religious leaders.

This program was co-produced by UnCommon Sense TV Media, in conjunction with Dayton Access Television, with live streaming video of the event provided by DONet, Inc. (now DataYard).

Zero Conscience In ‘Zero Dark Thirty’; Rationalizing Torture Through Entertainment

January 13th, 2013 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

There’s been an awful lot of discourse and debate these past few weeks over the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the new film by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal (produced with some notable help from the CIA). I’ve heard a number of different perspectives argued regarding the film, some even calling it “brilliant.” Brilliant, perhaps, in its execution; Insidious in its implications.

That’s a point driven home in what is probably one of the single best pieces yet written regarding the film; Learning to Love Torture, Zero Dark Thirty-Style: Seven Easy, Onscreen Steps to Making U.S. Torture and Detention Policies Once Again Palatable, by Karen Greenberg, posted on the always excellent

The sad fact is that Zero Dark Thirty could have been written by the tight circle of national security advisors who counseled President George W. Bush to create the post-9/11 policies that led to Guantanamo, the global network of borrowed “black sites” that added up to an offshore universe of injustice, and the grim torture practices — euphemistically known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” — that went with them.

It’s also a film that those in the Obama administration who have championed non-accountability for such shameful policies could and (evidently did) get behind. It might as well be called Back to the Future, Part IV, for the film, like the country it speaks to, seems stuck forever in that time warp moment of revenge and hubris that swept the country just after 9/11.

As its core, Bigelow’s film makes the bald-faced assertion that torture did help the United States track down the perpetrator of 9/11.

Tom Engelhardt’s addendum comments to her piece are also humorously relevatory, as they entertain the suggestion that this film is hardly the only real-life CIA film that needed to be made. He suggests a whole range of stories that Hollywood’s storytellers can mine for a cavalcade of cinematic suspense and daring-do, all with plenty of opportunities for blood and torture, such as the dramatic (yet historically buried) story of the CIA’s 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, whose democratically elected government had nationalized the country’s oil industry.

What a story! It couldn’t be oilier, involving BP in an earlier incarnation, the CIA, British intelligence, bribery, secretly funded street demonstrations, and (lest you think there’d be no torture in the film) the installation of an autocratic regime that would create a fearsome secret police and torture opponents for decades to come. All of this was done in the name of what used to be called “the Free World.” That “successful” coup was the point of origin for just about every disaster and bit of “blowback” — a term first used in the CIA’s secret history of the coup — in U.S.-Iranian relations to this day. Many of the documents have been released and whatta story it turned out to be! Hollywood, where are you?

Read all about them Here.

One of the most scathing indictments of the films moral and ethical emptiness, and the dangers it poses as a political statement, has been delivered by Glenn Greenwald, with his must-read piece Zero Dark Thirty: CIA hagiography, pernicious propaganda.

Greenwald is particularly dead on in regards to challenging those who defend the film on the ground that it is “art,” and shouldn’t be held accountable as a political statement, calling that…

…pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, and ultimately amoral claptrap…

First, this excuse completely contradicts what the filmmakers themselves say about what they are doing. Bigelow has been praising herself for the “journalistic” approach she has taken to depicting these events. The film’s first screen assures viewers that it is all “based on first hand accounts of actual events”. You can’t claim you’re doing journalism and then scream “art” to justify radical inaccuracies. Serwer aptly noted the manipulative shell-game driving this: “If you’re thinking of giving them an award, Zero Dark Thirty is ‘history’; if you’re a journalist asking a question about a factual error in the film, it’s just a movie.”

Second, the very idea that this is some sort of apolitical work of art is ludicrous. The film is about the two most politicized events of the last decade: the 9/11 attack (which it starts with) and the killing of bin Laden (which it ends with). George Bush got re-elected running on the former, while Obama just got re-elected running on the latter. It was made with the close cooperation of the CIA, Pentagon and White House. Everything about this film - its subject, its claims, its mode of production, its implications - are political to its core. It does not have an apolitical bone in its body. Demanding that political considerations be excluded from how this film is judged is nonsensical; it’s a political film from start to finish.

Third, to demand that this movie be treated as “art” is to expand that term beyond any real recognition. This film is Hollywood shlock. The brave crusaders slay the Evil Villains, and everyone cheers…

Worst of all, it does not challenge, subvert, or even unsettle a single nationalistic orthodoxy. It grapples with no big questions, takes no risks in the political values it promotes, and is even too fearful of letting upsetting views be heard, let alone validated (such as the grievances of Terrorists that lead them to engage in violence, or the equivalence between their methods and “ours”).

There’s nothing courageous, or impressive, about any of this. As one friend who is a long-time journalist put it to me by email (I’m quoting this because I can’t improve on how it’s expressed):

“I also feel like there’s this tendency of critics to give credit to artists (argh, novelists, too) for simply raising uncomfortable issues, even when they don’t bother to coherently think them through, as though just wallowing in the gray areas of the human condition is a noble thing (and sure, it can be, but it can be lazy, too).”

Read the Full Article Here. It’s really worth the read, particularly the parts where he brings up the comparative questions regarding how we judge Bigelow’s work as to how we historically view that of Leni Reifenstahl.

Do the defenders of this film believe Riefenstahl has also gotten a bad rap on the ground that she was making art, and political objections (ie, her films glorified Nazism) thus have no place in discussions of her films? I’ve actually always been ambivalent about that debate because, unlike Zero Dark Thirty, Riefenstahl’s films only depicted real events and did not rely on fabrications.

The ever-relevant Jane Mayer, somebody who knows all about how torture, uh, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” has been inculcated into American security processes and procedures, provides some insightful critique here regarding this work.

Mayer’s criticisms resonate with many of my own, and not just regarding ZDT, but concerns I’ve had regarding The Hurt Locker. That was Bigelow’s previous work which garnered her an Academy Award for Best Director, and a film for which the more I think about it, the more disturbed I am by it. And now, the fact that her latest contribution to the cinematic arts is being used by torture apologists (which is, on the face of it, a shocking thing to even have to debate in this country) is pretty disconcerting.

Zero Dark Thirty, whose creators say that they didn’t want to “judge” the interrogation program, appears headed for Oscar nominations. Can torture really be turned into morally neutral entertainment?


[T]he director of Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow, milks the U.S. torture program for drama while sidestepping the political and ethical debate that it provoked. In her hands, the hunt for bin Laden is essentially a police procedural, devoid of moral context. If she were making a film about slavery in antebellum America, it seems, the story would focus on whether the cotton crops were successful.

[T]he film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal, complained that critics were “mischaracterizing” the torture sequences: “I understand that those scenes are graphic and unsparing and unsentimental. But I think that what the film does over the course of two hours is show the complexity of the debate.”

His point was that because the film shows multiple approaches to intelligence gathering, of which torture is only one tactic, and because the torture isn’t shown as always producing correct or instant leads, it offers a nuanced answer to the question of whether torture works.

Zero Dark Thirty does not capture the complexity of the debate about America’s brutal detention program. It doesn’t include a single scene in which torture is questioned, even though the Bush years were racked by internal strife over just that issue, again, not just among human-rights and civil-liberties lawyers, but inside the F.B.I., the military, the Justice Department, and the C.I.A. itself, which eventually abandoned waterboarding because it feared, correctly, that the act constituted a war crime. None of this ethical drama seems to interest Bigelow…

Bigelow airbrushes out this showdown, as she does virtually the entire debate during the Bush years about the treatment of detainees.


Bigelow has portrayed herself as a reluctant truth-teller. She recently described the film’s torture scenes as “difficult to shoot.” She said, “I wish it was not part of our history. But it was.” Yet what is so unsettling about Zero Dark Thirty is not that it tells this difficult history but, rather, that it distorts it. In addition to excising the moral debate that raged over the interrogation program during the Bush years, the film also seems to accept almost without question that the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” played a key role in enabling the agency to identify the courier who unwittingly led them to bin Laden. But this claim has been debunked, repeatedly, by reliable sources with access to the facts.


In addition to providing false advertising for waterboarding, Zero Dark Thirty endorses torture in several other subtle ways. At one point, the film’s chief C.I.A. interrogator claims, without being challenged, that “everyone breaks in the end,” adding, “it’s biology.” Maybe that’s what they think in Hollywood, but experts on the history of torture disagree. Indeed, many prisoners have been tortured to death without ever revealing secrets, while many others, including some of those who were brutalized during the Bush years, have fabricated disinformation while being tortured. Some of the disinformation provided under duress during those years, in fact, helped to lead the U.S. into the war in Iraq under false premises.


Bigelow has stressed that she had “no agenda” when she made Zero Dark Thirty. Unsurprisingly, though, those who have defended the brutalization of detainees have already begun embracing the film as evidence that they are right. Joe Scarborough, the conservative host of MSNBC’s show Morning Joe, said recently that the film’s narrative, “whether you find it repugnant or not,” shows that the C.I.A. program was effective and “led to the couriers, that led, eventually, years later, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.” My guess is that this is just the beginning, and that by the time millions of Americans have seen this movie, they will believe that, as Frank Bruni put it in a recent Times column, “No waterboarding, no bin Laden.”

Mayer hits it on the head here, about the use of real world events for fictional storytelling effect (and the cheap dodge by filmmakers that “its just a film, just a story”)…

If there is an expectation of accuracy, it is set up by the filmmakers themselves. It seems they want it both ways: they want the thrill that comes from revealing what happened behind the scenes as history was being made and the creative license of fiction, which frees them from the responsibility to stick to the truth.

This is always one of the most disturbing aspects of the use of historical realities as fodder for fictionalized dramatic narratives in moviemaking storytelling, creates a distorted cultural memory of that history. People’s perceptions created through “entertainment” live on as the accepted public record in many people’s minds. This phenomenon was referenced in Greenberg’s piece, when she noted that the film opened on January 11th, 11 years to the day after the Bush administration opened its notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serving as “a perfect indication of the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the film, which will unfortunately substitute for actual history in the minds of many Americans.”

A lot of the distortion and damage to the historical record can be traced back directly to the fact that, again quoting Karen Greenberg…

…[no officials] who created and implemented U.S. torture policy had been held accountable for what happened, or any genuine sunshine had been thrown upon it. With scant public debate and no public record of accountability, Bigelow feels free to leave out even a scintilla of criticism of that torture program. Her film is thus one more example of the fact that without accountability, the pernicious narrative continues, possibly gaining traction as it does.

Read Mayer’s complete piece in the New Yorker.

And for those who think its only a handful of voices out there who question the accuracy and efficacy of the film’s implicit assertion as t to the efficacy of torture in the pursuit of bin Laden, read these.

And now we have people like Keith Calder saying that Zero Dark Thirty is “a great movie that forces you to acknowledge you live in a moral gray zone,” one that screenwriter Mark Boal claims captures “the complexity of the debate.”

As Greenwald pointed out, nothing can “force” an “acknowledgment” that torture, of all things, resides in “a moral gray zone.” After all, what in God’s name is “gray” or “complex” about it? Numerous treaties and laws, both domestic and international, as well as universally-recognized laws of humanity, and practically every identifiable moral code, are all black and white on the point.

All of this reminds me of an excellent article by Chase Madar from a couple years ago on Torture’s Comeback, published in The American Conservative. Well worth the re-read, particularly in light of the debates being engendered by the release of this film.

The response to the bin Laden execution has revealed just how wedded much of America’s national-security establishment is to the theory and practice of torture. But there are some brave souls who would like to hold our own torturers to account for the damage they have done, to their victims and to what’s left of our national honor. Until these arguments are confronted, the allures of torture will be hyped and hyped some more, not only amid the rubble and carnage of 9/11 but even ten years later in the exultation of victory.

What has happened to us?

Here is a good debate between Glenn Greenwald and The Atlantic’s Mark Bowden regarding not only the film, but the appointment of John Brennan as the new CIA Director. Bowden has over the last decade (as has Brennan) repeatedly defended the Bush torture program. This is both a written piece and a link to their debate on KQED public radio.

A point of additional concern to me is the fact that there are many pushing for the film’s recognition and honor at this year’s upcoming Academy Awards. That is an event watched by literally hundreds of millions of people around the world. What kind of message are we sending to them, if we celebrate a film that places our torture regime, which has so damaged American credibility abroad, in such an absolving light? Is this what kind of statement we want to be projecting to the world about American values?

I would definitely not encourage anyone to spend a single dime on it. I personally had the good fortune of being able to see this film outside of a commercial venue, one in which I would have been complicit in providing economic support for both its production and distribution. If people can find a way to see it outside of providing any financial support to it, in order to study it, understand it, critique it, then by all means they should see it. But to economically enable this kind of thing is really ethically compromising to me. I truly believe (or at least hope) that one day this film will be treated the same way D. W. Griffith’s abjectly racist Birth of a Nation is today; a technical masterpiece in cinematic achievement for its time, but completely outside the bounds of any acceptable morality, totally unwatchable in decent company.

UPDATE: Here’s more reason why these arguments against ZDT aren’t simply about disagreeing with somone’s perspective, but are about challenging a disingenuous propaganda campaign, being sold through the use of cinematic product from Hollywood (and opposition to what that campaign is designed to promote)…

“…because it was first questioned and then proven by the right’s Judicial Watch FOIA and then by the anti-torture coalition - is that there was close cooperation with the Pentagon, the CIA and even the White House. There is now a Senate investigation into whether the CIA figures with knowledge of the torture program overstepped the line in cooperating with ZD30.”

I’m very glad that Andrew Sullivan called out The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart’s thoroughly lame comments regarding the film and America’s use of torture as “difficult”…

“Difficult? Using overwhelming force to beat suspects to a pulp, drown them to near death scores of times, cram them into boxes, hang them from stess positions used by the Communist Chinese, freeze them to near-death: these things are not difficult. Real interrogation and investigative work is difficult - and it’s what caught and killed bin Laden (which the movie also shows, thank God). Not resorting to torture as a first option after an act of unimaginable terror is difficult. The word the Stewart I thought I knew (and admire) was looking for was surely “evil” or “barbaric”. But they didn’t come to his mind. No: this was a card-carrying liberal seemingly persuaded by the movie that torture was more acceptable than he had previously believed. Maybe I’m wrong. But this subject is too important for equivocation or the “I’m just a comedian” cop-out.”

Just like its too important a topic to be relegated to being simply a matter of “difference of opinion.” To torture or not to torture. Sorry, that’s not a legitimate question in a civilized society.

For the full post, including with video, go Here

Double-Standard Alert: America Refuses To Extradite Bolivia’s Ex-President Facing Charges of Genocide

September 13th, 2012 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

While throwing hissy fits over Julian Assange, and the perfectly legal acts of publishing and informing people about the nature and actions of their own government, the U.S. won’t allow for the extradition of a man wanted for crimes against humanity.

The hypocrisy doesn’t end there. This must-read piece on the history of American ties to former Bolivian leader, and accused mass murderer, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, goes deep into the realm of neoliberal politics and economics, and what I would consider their insidiously destructive influence on real democracy, justice, and human rights.

The role of important Democratic party operatives in this guy’s trajectory to power, and at the same time his being promoted and protected by the Bush administration, speaks volumes. It exposes the truth that when it comes to the underlying structures of power in America, particularly in regards to how they affect policy outside of its borders, any real line of distinction between the two major parties is not simply blurred, but has ceased to exist.

The former leader – a multimillionaire mining executive who, having been educated in the US, spoke Spanish with a heavy American accent – was a loyal partner in America’s drug war in the region. More importantly, the former leader himself was a vehement proponent and relentless crusader for free trade and free market policies favored by the US: policies that (with ) resulted in their impoverishment while enriching Bolivia’s small Europeanized elite.

It was Sánchez de Lozada’s forced exile that ultimately led to the 2006 election and 2009 landslide re-election of Morales, a figure the New York Times in October 2003 one “regarded by Washington as its main enemy”. Morales has been as vehement an opponent of globalization and free trade as Sánchez de Lozada was a proponent, and has constantly opposed US interference in his region and elsewhere.


But there’s another important aspect of this case that distinguishes it from the standard immunity Washington gifts to itself and its friends. When he ran for president in 2002, Sánchez de Lozada was deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Bolivians as a result of his prior four-year term as president in the 1990s. To find a way to win despite this, he hired the consulting firm owned and operated by three of Washington’s most well-connected Democratic party operatives: James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum. He asked them to import the tactics of American politics into Bolivia to ensure his election victory.

As detailed by a New York Times review of a film about the Democratic operatives’ involvement in Bolivia’s election, their strategy was two-fold: first, destroy the reputations of his two opponents so as to depress the enthusiasm of Bolivia’s poor for either of them; and then mobilize Sánchez de Lozada’s base of elites to ensure he wins by a tiny margin. That strategy worked, as he was elected with a paltry 22.5% of the popular vote.


At the very least, shielding a former leader deposed by his own people from standing trial for allegedly gunning down unarmed civilians takes on an even uglier image when that former leader had recently had leading US Democratic operatives on his payroll.

Read The Full Article

How Video Is Important In Addressing Human Rights Issues

Stalin K of Video Volunteers explains how “development” is often a very negative thing, and a threat to sustainable living for so many indigenous populations throughout India and the world.

Prophets vs. Profits - Charles Kernaghan Confronts What Global ‘Trade’ Really Means

Human rights and workers rights advocate Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee delivers a sermon of righteously biblical proportions regarding the criminal abuse of human dignity in the name of corporate profit. This man is a real world ass kicker in explaining and confronting the unexcusable injustices that underpin what is called global “trade” today. He explains how we can address these unconsciousable conditions and calls out the moral hypocrisy of our “leaders” for their complicity in not confronting the situation.

Leading Conservatives Openly Support a Terrorist Group

January 23rd, 2011 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

The level of hypocrisy in politics is seems invariably bad anymore, but this is reaching new lows. This, along with other issues such as the nakedly hysterical reactions to the press revelations through WikiLeaks, further expose the complete lack of any regard for consistency to principle anymore amongst the American political class.

Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with — and expressed vocal support for — supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein’s brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a “Terrorist organization” by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.

But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives — including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend — did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be “terrorist organization” — and expressed wholesale support for that group. Worse — on foreign soil — they vehemently criticized their own country’s opposition to these Terrorists and specifically “demanded that Obama instead take the group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran.” In other words, they are calling on the U.S. to embrace this Saddam-supported, U.S.-hating Terrorist group and recruit them to help overthrow the government of Iran. To a foreign audience, Mukasey denounced his own country’s opposition to these Terrorists as “nothing less than an embarrassment.”


Applying the orthodoxies of American political discourse, how can these Terrorist-supporting actions by prominent American conservatives not generate intense controversy? For one thing, their appearance in France to slam their own country’s foreign policy blatantly violates the long-standing and rigorously enforced taboo against criticizing the U.S. Government while on dreaded foreign soil (the NYT previously noted that “nothing sets conservative opinion-mongers on edge like a speech made by a Democrat on foreign soil”). Worse, their conduct undoubtedly constitutes the crime of “aiding and abetting Terrorism” as interpreted by the Justice Department — an interpretation recently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last year in Holder v. Humanitarian Law. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole represented the Humanitarian Law plaintiffs in their unsuccessful challenge to the DOJ’s interpretation of the “material support” statute, and he argues today in The New York Times that as a result of that ruling, it is a felony in the U.S. “to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s ‘terrorist’ designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.”


There is simply no limit on the manipulation and exploitation of the term “terrorism” by America’s political class. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell support endless policies that slaughter civilians for political ends, yet with a straight face accuse Julian Assange — who has done nothing like that — of being a “terrorist.” GOP Rep. Peter King is launching a McCarthyite Congressional hearing to investigate radicalism and Terrorism sympathies among American Muslim while ignoring his own long history of enthusiastic support for Catholic Terrorists in Northern Ireland; as Marcy Wheeler says: “Peter King would still be in prison if the US had treated his material support for terrorism as it now does.”


The reason there isn’t more uproar over these Bush officials’ overt foreign-soil advocacy on behalf of a Terrorist group is because they want to use that group’s Terrorism to advance U.S. aims.


Even though the actions of these Bush officials violate every alleged piety about bashing one’s own country on foreign soil and may very well constitute a felony under U.S. law, they will be shielded from criticisms because they want to use the Terrorist group to overthrow a government that refuses to bow to American dictates. Embracing Terrorist groups is perfectly acceptable when used for that end. That’s why Fran Townsend will never suffer the fate of Octavia Nasr, and why her fellow Bush officials will never be deemed Terrorist supporters by the DOJ or establishment media outlets, even though what they’ve done makes them, by definition, exactly that.

UPDATE: Amazingly, Fran Townsend, on CNN, hailed the Supreme Court’s decision in Humanitarian Law — the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the DOJ’s view that one can be guilty of “material support for terrorism” simply by talking to or advocating for a Terrorist group — and enthusiastically agreed when Wolf Blitzer said, while interviewing her: “If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you and the Supreme Court said the government has every right to do so.” Yet “voicing support for a terrorist group” is exactly what Townsend is now doing — and it makes her a criminal under the very Supreme Court ruling that she so gleefully praised.

Read the complete article from Glenn Greenwald in

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th, 2010 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror') , Video

The Human Rights Action Center presents the 30 articles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights read aloud by artists, advocates and children in support of the 60th Anniversary of this UN document.

‘Damn Right’: Bush Boasts of Waterboard Order

November 18th, 2010 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Ray McGovern, a former military intelligence officer and later a CIA analyst for 27 years, lays it out Here as succinctly and directly as possible as to George Bush’s corrosive impact upon American political culture, and his corrupting influence upon the social and civic fabric which is underlaid by the respect for the rule of law.

Former President George W. Bush continues to be beyond shame. Those favored with an advance copy of Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, say it paints a picture of a totally unapologetic Bush bragging, for example, about authorizing the CIA to waterboard 9/11 “mastermind,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

According to a newspaper account of the memoir, Bush says he is asked by the CIA for permission to subject KSM to the technique that creates the sensation of imminent drowning. His response is: “Damn right.”

For such a frank admission of high-level criminality, we can say, with ample justification, Shame on Bush. But that shame also sticks like Saran wrap to the rest of us – and especially to the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), which has soft-pedaled the significance of Bush’s confession, and to his make-nice successor, Barack Obama, who has refused to demand any accountability.

However, if we are still a democracy, we are all complicit.

I don’t much care if this sounds judgmental. You see, I was alive during World War II when there was torture galore and then it was considered a grave offense. The Nuremberg Tribunals tried and convicted Germany’s leaders for torture and other war crimes.

In the aftermath of WWII, there were a very few serious people who were arguing that the world should simply look forward, not backwards, no matter how pressing the other crises that were facing a war-ravaged world.


However, it is now clear that U.S. officials do not believe they should be held to that universal standard, that the Nuremberg principles and other international laws should not apply to decisions emanating from the White House.

Rather than facing a stern judgment for his criminal actions, including approving torture and authorizing aggressive war against Iraq, George Bush is about to be lionized in Dallas over his presidential library, in bookstores for his memoir, and in the FCM.


In his memoir, Bush exudes confidence that he can achieve the resurrection of his popularity even as he boasts about his role on torture. It was a mark of almost inconceivable hubris that he would callously admit his authorization of waterboarding.

But he did make that admission, which lobs the ball into our court as American citizens. It is indeed time for the kind of judgment Justice Jackson envisioned, not a celebratory book tour.


Last but hardly least, shame on Bush’s timid successor. Every time I hear that Obama is a former professor of Constitutional law I find myself muttering, “And that would be the constitution of which country?”

The President’s soaring rhetoric falls flat fast the moment you stop to ponder how he has betrayed his oath to see to it that the laws are faithfully executed — in this case, by holding self-confessed torturers accountable.

Shame, too, on those of us who decide to remain silent as Bush openly brags about how he personally approved the use of controlled-drowning for interrogation. The Spanish Inquisitors who applied for the first patent on waterboarding had no qualms calling it what it is — tortura de agua.

“Unequivocally torture” is how U.S. Brigadier General David Irvine described waterboarding, after teaching POW interrogation and military law for 18 years.


As interrogator Matthew Alexander has said, “I have been contacted by World War II veterans who were outraged that the Bush administration so easily dismissed the American principles that millions of veterans gave their lives to defend. They pointed out what I have said all along: we cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him.”


In 1775, as the birth of America hung in the balance, General George Washington said, “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any prisoner…by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

With George W. Bush’s “Damn right” permission to waterboard – and the FCM’s generally positive response to his torture declaration – America has certainly come a long way. Again, I believe we are all complicit.

So when will the “law and order” contingent of American politics call for Bush’s being arraigned for his violation of This law, as well as his violations of our international legal obligations as signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Read the Original Full Length Article by Ray McGovern, published by Consortium News

Exposing Human Rights Violations Through Video

September 20th, 2010 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

(The issues raised by the examples below are gaining increasing amounts of attention in the public sphere. I sense the influence of the rise of WikiLeaks from the last few years in this. This is a vital part and major componant of the future of human rights work. - Editor, USTV Media)

Human Rights Violations Caught on Tape

Would you blow the whistle on YouTube? WITNESS poses this question and more in a new collaboration.

WITNESS, an organization that uses video to expose human rights violations, has launched a series of blog posts in collaboration with YouTube. Previous topics included just why video matters and what steps can be taken to protect yourself and your filmed subjects.

Whether it’s officials in China cracking down on farmers’ protests, exposure of unfair, illegal child labor practices in Kazakhstan, or Iranian merchants striking in protest of tax increases, citizen-created video plays an increasingly vital role in providing unvarnished truths as well as to protecting the rights of those who sometimes put themselves at great risk to capture and disseminate that truth.

Now, WITNESS and YouTube are turning their collective lenses on the delicate balance between safety with the need to expose injustices. On the third in the series, WITNESS and YouTube pose three important questions, and they really want to hear what you have to say in response:

1. How can uploaders balance privacy concerns with the need for wider exposure?
2. How can we stay alert to human rights footage without getting de-sensitized to it?
3. Does human rights content online require some kind of special status?

These are important emerging matters whose urgency is underscored by the rapid rate of technological change as well as the increasingly wide reach of technology’s availability. And the WITNESS/YouTube partnership sincerely hopes that you will give the matter some thought and weigh in with your ideas.

Please visit and read this latest blog post, where you can sign in to the moderated forum and offer your insights.

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