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Eastman Kodak’s Fallout Coverup

February 28th, 2013 - by admin

Tim Barribeau / Imagine Resources – 2013-02-28 01:44:19

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2013/02/26/not-so-secret-atomic-bomb-tests-why-the-photographic-film-industry-knew

Not-so-secret Atomic Tests: Why the Photographic Film Industry Knew What the American Public Didn’t
Tim Barribeau / Imagine Resources

(February 26, 2013) — It’s one of the dark marks of the US Government in the 20th century — a complete willingness to expose unwitting citizens to dangerous substances in the name of scientific advancement. It happened with the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, with the MKUltra mind control project and with the atomic bomb testing of the 1940s and 50s.

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) knew that dangerous levels of fallout were being pumped into the atmosphere, but didn’t bother to tell anyone. Well, anyone except the photographic film industry, that is.

Photographic film is particularly radiosensitive — that’s the reason why you see dosimeters made from the stuff, as they can be used to detect gamma, X-ray and beta particles. But in 1946, Kodak customers started complaining about film they had bought coming out fogged.

Eastman Kodak investigated, and found something mighty peculiar: the corn husks from Indiana they were using as packing materials were contaminated with the radioactive isotope iodine-131 (I-131).

Eastman Kodak at the time had some of the best researchers in the country on its team (the company even had its own nuclear reactor in the 1970s), and they discovered something that was not public knowledge: those farms in Indiana had been exposed to fallout from the 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico — the world’s first atmospheric nuclear bomb explosions which ushered in the atomic age. Kodak kept this exposure silent.

Some of the facts in the story are — like the film in question — a little hazy. Some claim Kodak’s discovery happened in 1946, some in 1945. The Trinity Test was officially July of 1945, but I can believe that by the time corn was exposed to the radiation, picked, the husks converted to packing material and the film packaged and sold, it could well have been 1946. Given that the government initially denied that the Trinity Test was even nuclear, instead calling it an “ammunition explosion,” perhaps Kodak’s silence is more understandable.

But the story doesn’t end in 1946, with Kodak keeping a lid on atmospheric nuclear bomb testing by the government. The US continued with atmospheric detonation tests, most famously in the Pacific, but also back on American soil in the 1950s at the Nevada National Security Site.

The first test in Nevada was in January of 1951, and days later, as snow blanketed the city of Rochester, N.Y., Kodak detected spiked radiation levels that measured 25 times the norm some 1,600 miles away from the test site.

Kodak’s response was twofold. It registered a complaint with the National Association of Photographic Manufacturers (NAPM), who contacted the Atomic Energy Commission, and Kodak contacted the AEC directly. According to the NAPM memo, Kodak measured 10,000 counts per minute of radiation, compared to recent unaffected snowfalls that registered only 400.

The AEC released a statement to the AP claiming it was “investigating reports that snow that fell in Rochester was measurably radioactive. The reports… indicate that there is no possibility of harm to humans or animals…. All necessary precautions, including radiation surveys and patrolling, are being undertaken to insure that safety conditions are maintained.”

Kodak’s contacting of the AEC essentially lead to the company being brushed off by the commission, so Eastman Kodak did what any company would do: it threatened to sue. And that’s when things got really weird.

The AEC capitulated, and agreed to give not just Kodak, but also the entire film industry, information about nuclear tests, weather patterns, predicted fallout and more. This was information that no one else was getting, certainly not the general public.

To quote current Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) from a Senate hearing held on the subject in 1998:
“Kodak complained to the Atomic Energy Commission and that Government agency agreed to give Kodak advanced information on future tests, including ‘expected distribution of radioactive material in order to anticipate local contamination.’

“In fact, the Government warned the entire photographic industry and provided maps and forecasts of potential contamination. Where, I ask, were the maps for dairy farmers? Where were the warnings to parents of children in these areas? So here we are, Mr. Chairman. The Government protected rolls of film, but not the lives of our kids. There is something wrong with this picture.”

Senator Harkin’s remarks about dairy farms and children reveals the dark side of this story. It’s not enough that the AEC was knowingly releasing fallout into American skies, but that one of the side effects they were aware of was that it could enter the food supply, and potentially cause long term health problems.

The I-131 would fall on the ground, be eaten by cattle through radioactive feed, and through their milk, be passed on to the public. Your thyroid needs iodine to function, so it builds up stores of iodine from the environment, and high concentrations of I-131 are directly linked to higher risks of radiogenic thyroid cancer — especially from exposure during childhood. And that’s exactly what happened to thousands of American children.

It turns out there’s a relatively easy way to prevent thyroid cancer after exposure to I-131 — standard iodine supplements will do. But if you’re unaware of the fallout, you wouldn’t know to take the countermeasure.

The atmospheric tests have been linked to up to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer in the US alone. To this day, the National Cancer Institute runs a program to help people identify if they were exposed, and between 1951 and 1962, it was an awful lot of people.

According to a report by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), there was research to indicate the danger of I-131 affecting the populace via the “milk pathway” as early as 1953, and there was fairly strong evidence by 1955.

Yet the tests continued with no warnings issued to farmers or the public until the early 60s, while film manufacturers were provided with “maps and forecasts of potential contamination, as well as expected fallout distributions which enabled them to purchase uncontaminated materials and take other protective measures.”

This report even claims that the AEC knew the milk had high levels of radiation, but refused to divert it away from human consumption, arguing that doing so would lead to malnutrition.

It’s a bizarre and dark chapter in the history of the United States; one where the government knowingly and wittingly exposed its people to dangerous levels of radiation and fallout. And rather than warn the populace where they thought it would fall, the only outside entities who knew were those making film. After all, you wouldn’t want your holiday snaps to turn out all cloudy, would you?

[Imaging Resources Editor’s note: This piece ranges far from our normal digital photography fare, but we found it an interesting historical note on a moment in time when the photo industry, military development and public health all intersected, and on how an earlier era viewed citizens’ rights and safety.]

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

A Night at the Oscars for Israel-Palestine

February 28th, 2013 - by admin

Roane Carey / The Nation & Gar Smith / The Berkeley Daily Planet – 2013-02-28 01:36:29

http://www.thenation.com/article/173013/night-oscars-israel-palestine

A Night at the Oscars for Israel-Palestine
Roane Carey / The Nation

LOS ANGELES (February 20, 2013) — Dror Moreh’s film The Gatekeepers-one of five nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary feature category-is a brilliant, deeply disturbing portrait of the post-1967 Israeli occupation. This year’s strong field of nominees also includes 5 Broken Cameras, another film about the occupation, directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat with Israeli Guy Davidi.

It’s hard to imagine two more stylistically and thematically distinct films. Burnat’s is a highly personal account of the struggle of his West Bank village, Bil’in, against Israel’s separation wall, and the accompanying army and settler destruction of its olive groves.

Burnat interweaves scenes of domestic life with those of Bil’in’s weekly protests; the fact that five of his cameras were broken by the army in the course of filming is a testament both to his seemingly continuous engagement and the army’s habitually violent response to unarmed protest. 5 Broken Cameras is a moving and artfully constructed diary of family and community resistance.

The Gatekeepers, on the other hand, tells the story of occupation from the standpoint of its leading enforcers, six former heads of the General Security Service, or Shin Bet. The film is remarkable for its historical breadth and revelations from those who have run one of the country’s most secretive agencies.

Never before have this many Shin Bet heads spoken on the record. From Avraham Shalom, who led the service from 1980 to 1986, to Yuval Diskin (2005–11), these men are intellectually impressive and sometimes eloquent, though at times they display a chilling ruthlessness.

Moreh says he was inspired by The Fog of War, Errol Morris’s 2003 portrait of Robert McNamara, and the influence is evident. Moreh’s interviews are framed by creepy re-enactments of intelligence operations, multiple computer screens, repeated surveillance shots of assassination targets.

The underlying mood, heightened by a doom-laden soundtrack and computerized simulations, is one of foreboding, conveying the sense of an impersonal, machinelike bureaucracy at work. Yaakov Peri (1988–94), who headed the Shin Bet at the height of the first intifada, says it is “a well-oiled system. It’s well organized and effective.”

Yet that mood stands in contrast to the thoughtfulness, fallibility and frequent self-criticism of the interview subjects. It was precisely that post-retirement soul-searching that inspired Moreh to make this film: as he was working on a documentary about Ariel Sharon, he learned that one of the reasons Sharon, a key architect of the settlement project, decided to withdraw settlers from Gaza was the unprecedented 2003 public protest by four of these former Shin Bet heads, who denounced his government’s single-minded focus on repression during the second intifada.

As Ami Ayalon (1996–2000) put it at the time, “We are taking very sure and measured steps to a point where the State of Israel will not be a democracy or a home for the Jewish people.”

A key theme of The Gatekeepers is the irresponsibility of Israel’s politicians, who have avoided hard decisions and have abetted the most dangerous elements in society. As Shalom puts it, any talk of a political solution to the occupation disappeared soon after it began, to be replaced only by a tactical focus on fighting terror.

“No Israeli prime minister,” he says, “took the Palestinians into consideration.” Peri observes that every Israeli government either accepted or came to accept the settlements. This gave extremists the feeling they were “becoming the
masters” and could do whatever they wanted.

A particularly egregious case was that of the Jewish Underground, which plotted in the 1980s to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, in the hope of triggering Armageddon and the coming of the Messiah. The Shin Bet foiled the plot at an advanced stage and the conspirators were duly tried and sentenced to prison, but because they had connections to powerful leaders in the cabinet and Knesset, they were released early.

Several Shin Bet directors deplore the far right’s incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin preceding his 1995 assassination. Moreh himself, echoing the criticism of Carmi Gillon (1994–96) in the film, denounced Israel’s current prime minister in a February CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, saying, “Benjamin Netanyahu took his big share in that.”

Avraham Shalom presents the most striking contrasts. The oldest of the six, he looks, in his suspenders and checked shirt, like a harmless old grandfather, chuckling frequently at his own jokes. Yet Diskin says he was an uncompromising bully.

And when asked about the scandal that ended his career-the Bus 300 incident of 1984, in which Palestinian hijackers who were captured unharmed were murdered by the Shin Bet on his orders-Shalom is at first evasive, then admits it was “a lynching,” then bristles defensively, insisting that “with terrorism there are no morals. Find morals in terrorists first.”

Near the end of the film, though, Shalom registers one of the strongest criticisms of Israel, saying, “We’ve become cruel…to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population.” Even more astounding, he likens the Israeli occupation to that of the Nazis (making a careful exception for the Holocaust itself).

His fierce condemnations are echoed by the others; Ayalon refers to the “banality of evil” in warning against the speeded-up “conveyor belt” of assassinations, when “200, 300 people die because of the idea of ‘targeted assassinations.'”

All these Shin Bet heads seem to have become humbled, both by what they have done (Diskin, reflecting on the assassination of terrorists, says, “What’s unnatural is the power you have” to “take their lives in an instant”) and by what Israel has become: Gillon says, “We are making the lives of millions unbearable.”

One of the most important lessons imparted by The Gatekeepers is that no matter how well trained the Shin Bet’s agents, no matter how ruthlessly these guardians carry out their tasks, without wise leadership by politicians, their mission may be fruitless in the long run.

As Avi Dichter (2000–05) observes, “You can’t make peace using military means.” Ayalon closes the film with a prophetic warning: “The tragedy of Israel’s public security debate is that we don’t realize that we face a frustrating situation in which we win every battle, but we lose the war.”


The Gatekeepers: Looking Back on Israel’s Failed ‘War on Terror’
By Gar Smith / The Berkeley Daily Planet

(February 23, 2013) — In Dror Moreh’s Oscar-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers, six former heads of Israel’s spy agency speak candidly — and reflect critically — about their clandestine work. To begin to appreciate the magnitude of Moreh’s accomplishment, try to imagine a US filmmaker getting all nine of the past CIA directors (from William Casey in 1980 to Leon Panetta) to face a camera and unburden their souls.

Hard to imagine such a thing ever happening, right?

Still, the overlaps between the Shin Bet’s history and the CIA’s legacy are uncanny as they keep echoing throughout The Gatekeepers. Time and again, each Gatekeeper in turn, seems surprised when an order to assassinate a well-known Palestinian target winds up triggering yet more violence.

The intelligence chiefs refer to Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians as a “war on terror.” One remembers the excitement that followed the first Palestinian terrorist act directed against Israel. Thanks to a single explosion, one former spy recalls with relish, “We no longer had to focus on the issue of the Palestinian State. Now we had work!”

Soon, they had more work than expected when Israel’s stability was threatened by the eruption of domestic terrorism — spawned by a radical Jewish Underground that grew out of the settlers’ movement — that eventually lead to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and doomed growing hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict over the Occupation.

Some missteps were simply amateurish and embarrassing. In one case, in an attempt to carry out a census of the Palestinians, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops were required to learn some basic Arabic. Soldiers were instructed to knock on doors and explain: “We are here to count you.” But, the language training failed to teach the proper pronunciation of the “h” sound in Arabic. As a result, the soldiers went out knocking on Palestinian doors and announcing: “We are here to castrate you.”

Looking back, the former spy chiefs now concur, the shift to “counterterrorism” basically unleashed a chain of increasing barbarities that only escalated the conflict and made the peace process impossible. Every time the Shit Bet singled out a “prime terrorist” for “targeted assassination,” the murder triggered even larger and angrier protests and acts of retaliation.

Still, even while admitting their failure to guide history towards a peaceful resolution, many of these retired spies could not suppress self-satisfied grins as they recounted the clever plots they hatched to murder Palestinian leaders.

This creepy glee was particularly evident in descriptions of the death of Yahya Ayyash, a Palestinian terror-master known as “The Engineer.” Ayyash was dispatched when he picked up an explosives-laden cell phone to speak with his father — and the Shin Bet blew his head off.

But if Ayyash’s murder was a publicity coup, another Shin Bet killing turned out to be a public relations disaster. After a small group of Palestinians took a bus hostage in 1984, Shin Bet director Avraham Shalom secretly gave the orders to execute two of the hijackers after they had surrendered.

The murders might have gone unnoticed, but a photographer managed to capture a shot of one of the hijackers as he was being hustled away — alive — in the custody two Shin Bet agents.

(This scene is recreated in a spectacular sequence, thanks to a special effects team that somehow managed to fuse a series of black and white photos of the “Bus 300” incident into what appears to be a continuous 3D reality that morphs from one photo to the next, sweeping viewers through computerized time-and-space.)

Israel’s intelligence leaders generally conclude that, for all their work, the Israel-Palestine situation is no better off today than it was when they first sat down behind the director’s chair. And, they admit, their efforts often made the situation worse. Almost unanimously, they now agree that the root of the problem is Israel’s illegal, unjust and inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people.

As “good soldiers,” they kept quiet during their days behind the director’s desk but now, their collective judgment demands to be heard — not only in Tel Aviv but in Washington, as well.

At one point, a Shin Bet chief recalls a US official criticizing Israel after an IDF attack killed several Palestinian civilians. The Israeli brusquely dismissed the criticism. After all, he noted, the US “killed 70 innocent civilians at a wedding party in Afghanistan!”

The voices of Washington’s “gatekeepers” have yet to be heard. Most likely (if they share a common humanity), their retrospectives would jibe with those of their Shin Bet colleagues, leading them to the same familiar lesson: When violence grows from a sense of injustice, introducing more violence to the equation never leads to a solution.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Pentagon Suggests Sequester Would Impair Ability to Fight WikiLeaks

February 28th, 2013 - by admin

Kevin Gosztola / FiredogLake – 2013-02-28 01:29:34

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/02/25/pentagon-suggests-sequester-would-impair-ability-to-fight-wikileaks/

WASHINGTON, DC (February 25, 2013) — Four days away from massive austerity that would result in cuts to the United States government, the Pentagon is suggesting the cuts would make it harder to fight cyber threats.

Posted by Secrecy News, Zachary J. Lemnios, the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, was asked by Sen. Rob Portman what would be the impact to “cybersecurity” if the cuts went through. Though Portman did not mention WikiLeaks, Lemnios responded:

Mr. LEMNIOS. The fiscal year 2013 budget includes significant funding for cybersecurity efforts across the government and includes both defense and non-defense, and classified and unclassified activities. At this stage, it would be premature to speculate on the specific impacts sequestration would likely have on cybersecurity activities. However, cuts under sequestration could hurt efforts to fight cyber threats, including four key efforts:

* Improving the security of our classified Federal networks and addressing WikiLeaks;

* Continuing the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI);

* Sustaining the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace; and

* Initiating continuous monitoring of unclassified networks at all Federal agencies

According to Lemnios, the Pentagon fears national security leaks could result. Such fear reflects how expensive it is to maintain the secrecy state in government. In 2011, it cost government agencies $11.4 billion to “secure classified documents.”

Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) director John Fitzpatrick said, “The biggest agency in this area is the Defense Department, which accounts for 90 percent of the $11.4 billion spent on security classification activities last year. Its 2011 spending jumped $1.3 billion from 2010.”

The billion dollar increase likely included funding for programs instituted after WikiLeaks published previously classified information. It was reported in early May 2011 the Army would be monitoring soldiers “keystrokes, downloads and web searches on computers that soldiers use” in the aftermath of the release of documents.

The Army would include tracking downloads to removable drives. It is unlikely this would fall by the wayside, however, this is this security does require personnel and resources. It is expensive to run a secrecy state (and participating in security can be a boondoggle for private contractors).

What makes this warning from the Pentagon about losing the ability to “address” WikiLeaks remarkable is not that programs could be cut or impaired. Recently, the White House released a strategy to protect trade secrets from theft or economic espionage.

WikiLeaks was named in the strategy. An executive summary explained, “Cyberspace provides relatively small-scale actors an opportunity to become players in economic espionage. Under-resourced governments or corporations could build relationships with hackers to develop customized malware or remote-access exploits to steal sensitive US economic or technology information, just as certain [foreign intelligence services] have already done.”

It then proceeded to assert, “Similarly, political or social activists may use the tools of economic espionage against US companies, agencies, or other entities, with disgruntled insiders leaking information about corporate trade secrets or critical US technology to ‘hacktivist’ groups like WikiLeaks.”

As I wrote, the strategy made clear the White House does not consider WikiLeaks a media organization. It characterized it as a “self-styling whistleblowing” organization. The word “self-styled” indicated WikiLeaks is not a “whistleblowing organization” to White House officials.

In the strategy, the organization is listed under a description of hacktivists and even described as an example of a “hacktivist” organization. It is blatantly false and malicious because staffers of WikiLeaks are not known to have hacked into any businesses or organizations to obtain information. They are not even known to have solicited information from insiders.

All information released has been the result of submissions from sources they are unable to identify because their submission system was setup to protect the identity of sources or the information has been personally handed over by a whistleblower.

I clearly stated WikiLeaks is a media organization and a publisher, not some “hacktivist” collective. WikiLeaks has a right to publish just like other news outlets, including those in the United States that are sometimes incredibly subservient to corporate interests or the US government.

Now, with this response from the Pentagon on what could be impacted, it becomes more apparent the government views WikiLeaks as a cyber-espionage actor and not a publisher. How else to explain the fact that an official from the Pentagon mentioned WikiLeaks in a response to a question about the impact of the sequester on “cybersecurity”?

And, what does “address” mean? It has been two to three years since the leaks took place. The breach has been addressed with the Pentagon further clamping down on the flow of information within the military. “Address” means WikiLeaks is still considered a threat — an organization it believes will strike again — and they are fighting it to ensure it cannot get into its systems and release any secrets.

The problem is that is not what WikiLeaks does or will ever do. It does not go into government systems and pilfer classified information. Yet, the national security state promotes this falsehood about WikiLeaks to justify the expansion of cyber and secrecy powers.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Sequestration Nation: Cut Pentagon Waste, Not Public Programs

February 28th, 2013 - by admin

John Bachtell / People’s World – 2013-02-28 01:21:49

http://portside.org/2013-02-23/chicago-protestors-cut-pentagon-not-our-health

Chicago Protestors: Cut the Pentagon, Not Our Health
John Bachtell / People’s World

CHICAGO February 15, 2013) –“These cuts to Medicaid will affect home services that I depend upon,” said Susan Aarup from her wheelchair. “I shouldn’t have to choose between paying for food and electricity.”

Aarup, a member of the disability rights group Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWNN), was speaking in Federal Plaza at a rally of seniors, disabled and veterans on Valentine’s Day. They had gathered to demand Congress stop the across the board cuts to people’s programs scheduled to go into effect March 1.

“Don’t break our hearts. Stop in the name of love. We can’t have cuts to programs we depend upon,” declared Mary Zerkel Peace Building Program coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee.

As part of the action, thousands of postcards were delivered to US Senators Mark Kirk, R. and Richard Durbin, D., demanding no cuts.

The protesters wanted to remind the senators how the cuts, known as sequestration, would devastate the lives of real people and their communities, who are already reeling under federal budget cuts made over the past two years.

In addition to impacting people like Aarup, nearly 4,000 children in Illinois will be cut from Head Start and another 3,348 fewer children will receive services under the Child Care and Development Block Grants.

Deep cuts would mean thousands of state residents will lose Low Income Energy Assistance, Adult Job Training grants, Community Services block grants and other programs that effect every sector of the population.

Zerkel pointed out the cuts would also mean the loss of thousands of jobs in Illinois including over 800 Head Start workers, and over 1000 other jobs in education at a time of high unemployment and economic stagnation.

Planned cuts of Federal aid to the states for Medicaid would heavily impact the program. A 5 percent cut would reduce Illinois’s Medicaid budget by nearly $500 million. Another $1.1 billion in business activity would be lost along with over 9,000 jobs.

Stretched out next to Zerkel was a long banner dramatically illustrating the federal discretionary budget. Sixty percent of the banner was colored in red, representing funding for the military. Funding for education, health care and other programs vital to people and communities took up the rest.

“All the programs we need get very little money,” said Zerkel. “The Pentagon budget is where we should be cutting. US military spending has doubled since 2001.”

The base Pentagon budget has grown from $287 billion to $530 billion, without accounting for the extra costs associated with the Iraq and Afghanistan operations.

Zerkel said the Pentagon didn’t even spend the money it was allocated last year. Over $100 billion went unspent in 2012.

“Could that money go to making sure 140 Chicago public schools don’t close this year?” asked Zerkel, referring to anticipated closures to be announced next month.

Kristina Tendilla sees the consequences of the economic crisis and budget cuts in her community on a daily basis. Tendilla is an outreach worker at Benton House, a 100 year-old settlement house in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

“These cuts would devastate our community. I am not prepared to turn away any of the 1600 families we have served over the past two years,” said Tendilla. “The Benton House food bank has grown exponentially.”

The dots between military spending and the economic crisis needs to be connected said Vince Emanuele, a US Marine veteran who served in Iraq.

“The one elephant in the room is military spending,” said Emanuele. “Connections must be made between the $53 billion Illinois deficit and the $63 billion the state’s taxpayers have sent to the Pentagon since 2001.”

Emanuele asked if the federal government loves veterans so much, why are there tens of thousands living on the street?

“We need to talk about the military spending and its impact on health care, education and jobs,” he said.

Other groups participating included Chicago Jobs with Justice, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, United Electrical Workers (UE), Move the Money, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and Arise and Stand Up Chicago.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Free Lynne Stewart and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

February 27th, 2013 - by admin

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression & The World Can’t Wait – 2013-02-27 00:38:09

http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/police-state-repression/8120-lynne-stewart-emergency-alert

ACTION ALERT: Support Lynne Stewart
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression & The World Can’t Wait

(February 25, 2013) — The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is asking supporters to write letters of support to Lynne Stewart who is battling cancer and injustice from inside FMC Carswell prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Lynne Stewart is a prominent civil rights attorney, defending the poor, persecuted and hapless. She is a “People’s Lawyer.” In 2005 she was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism. The trial was a McCarthy-type, “war on terror” hearsay trial at which an intimidated judge allowed into evidence accusations that had absolutely nothing to do with the charges against Lynne.

Stewart defended Omar Abdel Rachman, the “Blind Sheik.” Rachman is an Egyptian cleric framed up and imprisoned for life on “terrorism” charges. Today, the Egyptian president is demanding that the US release Rachman.

Stewart’s conviction was mainly due to her issuing a press release on behalf of her client, Rachman. This is something lawyers do for their clients, especially those prosecuted for political reasons, but this act got her charged for aiding and abetting a terrorist.

Stewart was sentenced to 28 month in prison, but the government appealed and the judge increased it to 10 years. The US government sent a message to lawyers who defend their clients in “terrorism” cases.

Lynne Stewart entered prison at the age of 71, recovering from breast cancer, but with a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, the cancer has now returned. First doctors found a spot in one lung, but now on the other lung and upper back and bones.

Lynne Stewarts’s daughter, Dr. Zenobia Brown, was initially barred from consulting with the Carswell doctors, but is now actively involved in the consultations and has informed the defense committee that, based on the radiographic evidence, Lynne’s metastasized breast cancer is of the type that could kill her in a short time unless she is treated aggressively and immediately. Yet Carswell officials insisted that Stewart be placed on the facility’s formal waiting list before further prison treatment.

Stewart is requesting an immediate transfer to her home in New York to be treated by the highly respected New York City hospital that treated her for the initial breast cancer. Although the Carswell prison has a “compassionate release” program, prison officials refuse to release Lynne Stewart for treatment.

Stewart, her hands and feet chained, as well as chains around her abdomen, is now receiving chemotherapy and related medical procedures at a Fort Worth area prison related hospital. Yet she remains optimistic and intent on fighting for and winning her petition for certiorari (request that the court hear her case) scheduled for submission to the US Supreme Court in late February 2013.

Lynne needs our solidarity. Letters to Lynne are more than welcome. She cherishes every letter from friends and supporters.

Please write to Lynne at:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054,
Federal Medical Center Carswell,
P.O. Box 27137,
Fort Worth Texas 76127.

Prison officials will take note of the large number of letters that she receives.

Also, please send donations for her defense effort to: Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.

For further information on Lynne’s case, please contact her husband, Ralph Poynter at Ralph.Poynter@yahoo.com.


Tell US Govt: “Free Aafia Siddiqui”
Committee to Stop FBI Repression

(February 24, 2013) — Dr. Aafia is a symbol of all that is wrong with the US government and its wars. Dr. Aafia is a Pakistani woman and mother, a US educated neuroscientist, and a graduate of MIT and Brandeis University. She was illegally kidnapped with her three young children in Karachi, Pakistan in 2003, and then taken to US custody in Afghanistan.

Dr. Siddiqui was held in secret detention and tortured for 5 years. In 2008, as news of her secret detention and torture by US forces in Afghanistan leaked out, it aroused national anger at press conferences and meetings across Pakistan. Then US officials suddenly claimed they had just found and arrested Dr. Siddiqui in Afghanistan.

US officials claim that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was shot and severely wounded during an interrogation by FBI agents in July 2008. The same FBI agents were responsible for guiding the investigation of the crime scene. They claimed this 90-pound woman attempted to murder US soldiers and FBI agents while in US custody. She is now imprisoned at FMC Carswell, Forth Worth,Texas.

FMC Carswell is where the US Empire holds its women political prisoners. Attorney Lynne Stewart and Colombian revolutionary Sonia — Anayibe Rojas Valderrama, are also imprisoned in Carswell for standing against US war and injustice.

March 30, 2013 marks 10 years of unending brutal political imprisonment for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

CSFR is joining the “10 DAYS FOR 10 YEARS” campaign.
ACTION: Please Sign the IAC petition for Dr. Siddiqui.

The Peace Thru Justice Foundation is promoting three events you can participate in:
1. Friday, March 8, 2013, Rally to support Dr. Siddiqui, Embassy of Pakistan, 3517 International Court, Washington DC, 20008, 3PM to 5PM

2. Friday, March 29, 2013, Protest rally to demand “Free Aafia Siddiqui!” US District Court, 501 W. 10th Street, Fort Worth, Texas (10th and Lamar St., Burnette Park), 3PM to 5PM

3.Saturday, March 30, 2013, Protest March and rally “Free Aafia Siddiqui!” FMC Carswell, Fort Worth, Texas, 12 Noon

Copyright 2013 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved
.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!
Our mailing address is: Committee to Stop FBI Repression, PO Box 14183, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

On the 55th Anniversary of the Birth of the Peace Symbol

February 27th, 2013 - by admin

Bill Berkowitz / Buzzflash, TruthOut – 2013-02-27 00:33:35

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/17825-at-55-the-peace-symbol-endures-peace-not-so-much

At 55, The Peace Symbol Endures. Peace, Not So Much

(February 26, 2013) — The peace symbol is arguably the world’s most widely recognized protest symbol. In 2008, on the occasion of its fiftieth birthday, BBC News noted that the peace symbol has been “adapted, attacked and commercialized.” At fifty-five, the peace symbol remains a cultural icon, but as it ages, is it more than that?

Originally created as a symbol for the British anti-nuclear movement, it is now ubiquitous: appearing at thousands of anti-nuclear and anti-war protests; adorning posters, buttons, badges, and peace flags; becoming a fixture on postal stamps; and, decorating clothing, beach towels, jewelry, and people’s skin.

“Walk through the halls of any elementary or junior high school and you’ll see the peace sign all over in kids’ fashion, young girls especially — t-shirts, shorts, shoes, backpacks, earrings, pendants,” Peace Talks radio pointed out on its website a while back.

The peace symbol was first seen in public on Good Friday in 1958 when thousands of British anti-nuclear campaigners – organized by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) — marched 50 miles from London’s Trafalgar Square to the weapons factory at Aldermaston.

When Gerald Holtom, a British designer and former World War II conscientious objector, sat down at his drawing board fifty-five years ago, he was in almost total despair. He later told the editor of Peace News:
“I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.”

According to BBC News, Holtom “considered using a Christian cross motif but, instead, settled on using letters from the semaphore — or flag-signaling — alphabet, super-imposing N (uclear) on D (isarmament) and placing them within a circle symbolizing Earth.”

The American peace activist, photographer, and writer Ken Kolsbun, who communicated with Holtum until the artist died in 1985, published a book five years ago (along with Mike Sweeney), titled Peace: The Biography of a Symbol (National Geographic, 2008). The book commemorated the peace symbol’s 50th birthday.

According to peacesymbol.com, Peace “takes readers on a journey through five decades … present[ing] 50 years of history in pictures and words to tell the … story of mankind’s elusive pursuit of peace and the symbol that represents that quest.”

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the peace symbol: In 2006, the Durango Herald’s Thomas Munro reported that “During the Cold War, as a symbol of the peace movement and the left, it was immediately defined by many as a symbol of communism.

The geometrical similarity of the interior of the symbol to an upside-down cross was fodder for anti-communists who saw in the symbol a subliminal promotion of atheism. Others pointed out that a similar symbol appears on the tombstones of some Nazi bomber pilots.”

In October 1970, Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of the LDS (Mormon) Church, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and an admirer of the far-right John Birch Society, trashed the peace symbol in a speech at General Conference:
“Have we… ‘polluted the holy church of God?’ …. The auxiliaries of the Church are to be a help, not a hindrance, to parents and the priesthood as they strive to lead their families back to God. Do any of us wear or display the broken cross, anti-Christ sign, that is the adversary’s symbol of the so-called ‘peace movement'”?

According to the blog culturalmormoncafeteria, Benson “was evidently parroting over the pulpit the political fear-mongering propaganda that had been published by the John Birch Society (in their official publication American Opinion) only four months before.”

Titled “Peace Symbols: The Truth About Those Strange Designs,” the article “associated” the peace symbol “with a broken cross, Communism, [the] anti-Christ, and Satanism.” In addition to falsely claiming that the famed British philosopher, mathematician, and peace activist Bertrand Russell had designed the symbol, author David E. Gumaer, who later published a book with the same title, wrote:

“It was the upside-down broken cross. Such anti-Christian and anti-Jewish symbolism is common to Satanists…. The revolutionaries are pushing this business [of Satanism and black magic] like there’s no tomorrow. And those ‘peace symbols’ are a part of it. They are symbols of the anti-Christ!… [T]he actual origin of this Satanic symbol can be pinpointed….

“[I]n America, as thousands of radicalized youths parade that same symbol, the heretics of the Christian have all but adopted the ‘sign of the anti-Christ’ as their own. And you can be absolutely certain that the Communists planned it that way.”

Despite caterwauling right wing critics, the peace symbol has endured.

Perhaps, as Ken Kolsbun wrote in the epilogue to his book Peace, the key to its survival is its “cross-generational appeal”: “Children of today easily identify it. They may not know its original meaning, but they know it stands for good things – be nice to friends, be kind to animals, no fighting. This is a marvelous achievement for Gerald Holtom’s simple design.

Peoples around the world have marched with it, worn it, displayed it during combat, held it high on banners, and been arrested in its name. Ask any man, woman or child, ‘What one thing would everyone in the world want more than anything else?’ The answer would surely be world peace.'”

The peace symbol is unique; an emblem of hope and aspiration in such diverse settings as Aldermaston, England and Woodstock, New York, Washington, D.C. and Berlin. That it is revered and survives to this day, would likely surprise Gerald Holtom who when he sat down in despair at his easel fifty-five years ago had no inkling of his gift to the world.

(Dedicated to my grandson Alton Theodore Berkowitz-Gosselin and to all the children who will be inheriting a world hungry for peace.)

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Afghan Forces ‘Are Just Like Criminals’

February 27th, 2013 - by admin

Jonathan Owen / The Independent – 2013-02-27 00:16:29

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghan-forces-are-just-like-criminals-8508260.html

LONDON and KABUL (February 24, 2013) — Shocking revelations of murder, sexual abuse of young boys, unarmed civilians being shot at, police officers high on drugs, and routine kidnaps and extortion are exposing the true state of Afghanistan’s security forces in Helmand province.

An investigation has revealed how Afghan forces running bases that British soldiers fought to secure are barely able to function — let alone pose a challenge to the Taliban.

More than 100 British soldiers lost their lives in Sangin before handing over to the Americans in 2010. Foreign troops are due to leave their combat role in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 — passing security to the Afghan government.

But the despair of the US marines advising Afghan forces is laid bare in scenes being broadcast on BBC1’s Panorama tomorrow evening.

It reveals how three boys were shot dead escaping from police commanders who were sexually abusing them. Major Bill Steuber meets the deputy police chief, who claims the children want to stay at the bases and “give their bodies at night”. Eventually he agrees to take action, but the operation to rescue the other “chai boys” used as sex slaves does not happen.

Major Steuber angrily gestures to a nearby Afghan patrol base commander :”who we know is kidnapping boys and sexually molesting them, robbing the people. He treats the people of Sangin like a piggy bank that he can just shake and rob and, you know, that’s really difficult, you know. How do you work with a guy like that?”

Ben Anderson, the reporter embedded with the US marines, has been visiting Afghanistan since 2007 and said: “The police are behaving like the worst criminals imaginable.” He added: “Even going out there with very low expectations I was still shocked at how widespread the abuse is and how it’s not really being tackled.”

Reacting to the investigation, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, cautioned that Afghan forces “will not be ready to take on the insurgency alone when coalition forces leave. Instead many areas of the country will suffer brutality, abuse and corruption as well as surreptitious collusion with insurgents.”

Afghan forces are seen under the influence of drugs, indiscriminately firing into the air without regard for civilians, and US soldiers discover four men kidnapped by police and used to barter with the Taliban.

The scenes are in stark contrast to the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s assurances during a visit to Helmand earlier this month that transition is “on track” and that the Afghans “will be able to maintain security as the Isaf draw down.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said in a statement: “We are unable to comment on the specific incidents raised by Panorama” and insisted the Afghan security forces are a “professional and capable force” in the “vast majority of cases” but admitted “real challenges remain across Afghanistan, including proper adherence to the rule of law and respecting human rights”.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Reason behind Karsai’s Wardak Ban: US Attacks on Hospitals

February 27th, 2013 - by admin

AntiWar.com & Reuters & Swedish Committee on Afghanistan – 2013-02-27 00:13:50

US Troops Attacked Afghan Hospital Before Provincial Banning

US Troops Attacked Afghan Hospital Before Provincial Banning
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(February 26, 2013) — US officials continue to feign shock at the decision to ban special forces from the Wardak Province of Afghanistan, but as details of their behavior in the province continue to emerge, the only wonder is that they managed to operate for so long without such a banning.

The latest information comes from the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), which has reported that US troops once again attacked one of their hospitals earlier this month, in the Wardak Province, damaging the site and breaking equipment before eventually leaving.

This was the second time that clinic had been attacked by the US in recent months, and the exact same facility was the site of a two and a half day siege in October in which US troops inexplicably occupied the facility and took every patient and civilian within prisoner, before eventually releasing them all and leaving.

The US has an extremely poor history with respect to the Geneva Convention protections of remote hospitals, and had attacked a different SCA hospital in 2009, smashing the site up and ordering the doctors not to treat anybody else until they had reported their names to the NATO occupation forces.

NATO confirmed the most recent attack on the hospital, insisting it was carried out “in conjunction with Afghan forces” and that they had “compensated” the owners of the building for any damage caused.


Afghan Health Organizations Demand Stop
To Intrusions into Medical Facilities

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan

(February 26, 2013) — The Alliance of Health Organizations demands an immediate stop to intrusions into medical facilities by armed forces in Afghanistan, both foreign and national. The urge comes after the latest incident when ISAF troops searched, occupied and damaged a clinic in Saydabad district of Wardak province, supported by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. SCA is one of 26 significant implementing agencies of the Alliance of Health Organizations.

We are very concerned. From all across the country, we are receiving reports about armed intrusions into health facilities, says Dr. Sayed Ashrafuddin Aini, chairman of the Alliance of Health Organizations (AHO).

It was early morning on 11th of February that two ISAF military helicopters landed in Dandokai village, Saydabad district. Foreign soldiers entered the SCA-supported health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility for a few hours. The clinic was left in a mess, with windows and doors broken, equipment destroyed and medicines lying on the floor.

This is totally unacceptable. The clinic was clearly marked by a signboard and it is obvious for anyone who enters that it indeed is a medical facility, states Andreas Stefansson, Country Director of SCA. We are very disappointed, Stefansson adds, as we were given guarantees by ISAF after we protested against their three-day occupation of our clinic in Chack district in October last year.

Most health implementers within the Alliance of Health Organizations have similar experiences. We see violations against the Geneva Convention by all armed groups, foreign and national. This makes us very concerned for the future and our ability to deliver health services, states Dr Sayed Ashrafuddin Aini, chairman of AHO.

On Monday the 25th of February, representatives of the AHO met with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to discuss the problem.

We are glad to note that MoPH takes the problem seriously and is willing to support us. If Afghans are to access health services, it is very important that doctors and midwives feel safe at work and the health facilities provide uninterrupted services to the people, Dr Sayed Ashrafuddin Aini says.


Afghans Hold Anti-US Rally
Following Abuse Claims

Reuters

(February 26, 2013) — More than five hundred men marched through the capital of Afghanistan’s restive Wardak province on Tuesday in an outburst of anger against US special forces accused of overseeing torture and killings in the area.

Shouting “Death to America”, “Death to Obama” and “Death to Special Forces”, the protesters called for the immediate withdrawal of the American soldiers and threatened to join the Taliban if their demand was not met.

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on Sunday that all US Special Forces must leave Wardak province within two weeks following the accusations that Afghans working for them had tortured and killed innocent people.

Karzai’s demand could further complicate talks between the United States and Afghanistan over the presence of American troops once most NATO forces leave the country by the end of 2014.

Reuters interviewed dozens of residents of Wardak and Afghan government officials who alleged that Afghan men working with a small unit of US special forces had illegally detained, tortured and killed suspected insurgents.

A US defense official in Washington said a review in recent months in cooperation with Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry and National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence agency found no involvement of Western forces in any abuse.

The peaceful two-hour protest began on Tuesday at the offices of the Wardak provincial council shortly after it held a meeting.

“If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” said protester Haji Abdul Qadim. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”

In another incident that could feed local hostility to the American forces in Wardak, a Swedish organization which runs health clinics across Afghanistan accused the US military on Tuesday of occupying and damaging one of its facilities.

The incident occurred before dawn on February 11, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) said in a statement.

“Foreign soldiers entered the … health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility,” the statement said. Doors and windows were broken and medical equipment was destroyed, SCA director Andreas Stefansson said.

It was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by foreign forces since October, when soldiers spent three days in another Wardak clinic. After the October incident, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had told them it would ensure it did not happen again, Stefansson said. “What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said.

A spokesman for ISAF said the latest operation was carried out in conjunction with Afghan forces and aimed at detaining an insurgent leader who had taken refuge inside the clinic. ISAF said the building was not marked as a medical facility and they had compensated residents for the damage.

Stefansson also said a group of Afghan special forces had bullied and threatened the lives of health workers at the Maidan Shar hospital several days earlier.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)


Outrage as US Forces Attack Afghan Hospital in 2009
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 6, 2009) — The charity group Swedish Committee for Afghanistan expressed outrage today in reporting a US attack on a remote hospital being operated by the group. The troops burst in to the hospital without explanation and conducted a full and rather violent search of the facility.

The troops reportedly tied up several employees and the family of some of the patients, ordered the bed-ridden patients out of their rooms and smashed down several doors, including the door to the malnutrition ward. They did not arrest anybody, but upon leaving ordered the staff to report anybody coming to the hospital to seek treatment before the treatment was provided.

NATO spokesmen confirmed the raid, but said they had no information about why it was done and refused to speculate. The United Nations cautioned that the raid was a potential violation of the Geneva Conventions, which insist that military personnel avoid operating inside medical facilities.

The charity says that the same hospital was involved in an incident in July, when private contractors escorting a supply convoy forced their way in and used the hospital to hide from insurgents. A US helicopter also attacked a small medical clinic in Paktika Province last week on the basis of a report that a wounded insurgent might be inside.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Bradley Manning’s One Thousand Days of Imprisonment Without Trial

February 25th, 2013 - by admin

Brian Sonenstein / Firedoglake.com & Kevin Gosztola / The Dissenter – 2013-02-25 23:25:05

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/02/22/bradley-mannings-one-thousand-days-of-imprisonment/

No ‘Speedy Trial’ for Pvt. Bradley Manning
Brian Sonenstein / Firedoglake.com

(February 25, 2013) — Bradley Manning just spent his 1,000th day in prison awaiting a ruling by Judge Lind on whether or not his right to a ‘speedy trial’ was violated.

This Kafkaesque ruling comes on the heels of an inspiring weekend of activism, as thousands of Bradley supporters in dozens of cities across the globe came together to mark this depressing and downright-criminal milestone. (1)

The hearing will run from February 26th to March 1st, and Firedoglake Investigative Reporter Kevin Gosztola will be at Ft. Meade each day to bring us the latest developments as he has at The Dissenter since Day 1.

It’s hard to imagine how a soldier can spend 1,000 days in prison without trial and not be found to have their right to a speedy trial violated.

The Uniform Military Code of Justice says quite clearly, “charges against an accused must be dismissed if they are not brought to trial within 120 days of the earlier of preferral, pretrial confinement, or recall to active duty….” (2) That means Manning’s right to a speedy trial has in fact been violated approximately 8 times over.

One might reasonably argue that, based on the government’s approach to this case over the past few years, respecting Manning’s rights was never a priority. Constant delays by the prosecution have kept him behind bars in torturous conditions for years while effectively limiting his access to fair justice.

We are anxiously awaiting the ‘speedy trial’ ruling this week, and with your support, Kevin will report the news from the courtroom at Ft. Meade.

Brian Sonenstein is the Campaign Director for Firedoglake.com

Sources:
1. Bradley Manning’s One Thousand Days of Imprisonment Without Trial. Firedoglake Dissenter, 2/22/2013.

2. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Speedy Trial. Law Offices of David E. Coombs, 1/3/11.


Bradley Manning’s One Thousand Days of Imprisonment Without Trial
Kevin Gosztola / The Dissenter

(February 22, 2013) — For more than two and a half years, the military has been prosecuting Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly releasing classified information to WikiLeaks and this Saturday, February 23, he will have been imprisoned without trial for one thousand days.

The military judge in his court martial at Fort Meade ruled on January 8 that he was punished “unlawfully” during his nine months of confinement at the Quantico Marine Brig in Virginia. He was given a 112-day sentencing credit.

In March 2012, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez released a report where he condemned how the military had imposed “seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone” who had “not been found guilty of any crime.” He stated the treatment he had endured was “a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.”

Mendez contended Manning had been held in conditions of solitary confinement, since he was confined to his cell for 23 hours a day. Judge Army Col. Denise Lind disagreed. She concluded in her ruling the government had “not held” Manning in solitary confinement because that means “alone and without human contact.”

There were no doors separating him and there were regular walkthrough visits by commanding officers. He had human interaction. [The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has represented clients in solitary, criticized the judge’s conclusion.]

Manning is no longer being held at Quantico. After media began to report on his confinement conditions in December 2010, supporters pushed to have him moved from the facility.

Then-State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said he believed how Manning was being treated was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” The attention his case was receiving led the military to move him to Leavenworth in Kansas on April 20, 2011, where he is now.

Remarkably, when Manning arrived at Leavenworth, he was allowed to move about without restraints for the first time in nine months. He was “concerned about it” because he was not used to being able to move freely.

He went through the intake process without any shackles and expected to be subjected to the restrictive conditions he had been subjected to before at Quantico. A staff sergeant issued him some items and brought him to his cell. He entered the cell and the door closed. It was a “huge upgrade” and “completely different” from Quantico.

Throughout his confinement at Quantico, the Brig claimed to be afraid he would harm himself and they kept him on “prevention of injury” (POI) watch, a clinical psychiatric status for detainees who pose a risk to themselves. He was kept on this status even though a medical officer objected. He was also put on suicide risk twice and, when the medical officer recommended he be taken off that status, the Brig commanding officer disobeyed his recommendation.

On March 2, 2011, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes abused her authority and took Manning’s underwear away from him. Manning was frustrated with being kept on POI. He had been on the status for a long time.

He was not doing anything to harm himself. He was not throwing himself against the walls or trying to drown his head in the toilet. So, he expressed to a superior officer, Master Sergeant Brian Papakie, that if he really wanted to commit suicide, he could use the waistband of his underwear.

This was his way of communicating that, if he really wanted to act out, he would “generally act out.” If he wanted to hurt himself, he would use the things he had here now. But, the Brig took this statement and used it to justify keeping him in a status where he slept naked with two coarse and stiff suicide blankets for the rest of the nights that he was at the prison.

The following morning, Manning stood naked at parade rest during morning count after an officer said something from an observation room that led Manning to believe he could not use his blankets to cover himself until he was given his clothing. No Duty Brig Supervisor objected to a soldier standing there naked.

This was a moment that further galvanized support for having Manning moved from Quantico, and, in court, during deliberation over whether Manning was “unlawfully punished,” no officers could explain why Manning was permitted to stand naked (some even suspected he chose to stand naked because it would generate media attention).

Manning ate meals in his cell on a plastic tray with a metal spoon. He would request toilet paper when he wanted to use the bathroom. He would read books by authors like Brian Greene or Richard Dawkins. He was allowed only one book in his cell at a time and, when he wasn’t reading, the book would be taken away.

He was prohibited from exercising so he would sometimes do various dance moves because that was not expressly unauthorized in his handling instructions. He would pretend he was “sword fighting,” lift imaginary weights or play peek-a-boo with himself in the mirror, which was the “most entertaining thing” in his cell.

The cell was 6 X 8 feet. He had a “rack,” a mattress on a large metal fixture where he he slept. It was maybe two feet off the ground. There was a toilet and sink about “waist high” — maybe three and a half feet. Nothing obstructed the view of the toilet.

The observation room was slightly offset but right across from his cell and could see his entire cell. He was constantly observed. He would also be regularly asked by an officer in the Brig to answer if he was “okay.”

Manning suffered from “sheer complete out of my mind boredom.” He spent “a lot of time looking for things to stay active” and keep his mind from going back to a state similar to what his mental state was like in Kuwait.

He tried to feel like he was not trapped in a cage. He tried to make sure he knew where he was and still knew his environment. He tried to keep from falling asleep. The appearance of sleep was considered sleeping and sleep was prohibited.

****
At the end of July 2010, he was transferred from Camp Arifjan in Kuwait to Quantico. He was imprisoned for nearly two months in the camp and initially allowed to be in general population. There was an incident, however, where he had a mental breakdown and from that point onward he was kept in isolation.

He was put in what he saw as an “animal cage.” Guards would do what Manning called a “shakedown” and come in and tear his stuff up. He thought, “I am going to die and I am in a cage and I don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s how I saw it.”

He contemplated taking his life but it was futile. He had no means to do it. There wasn’t anything to hang a noose on if he made one. It “felt pointless” to try and commit suicide. (Guards found nooses during one of their “shakedowns.”)

Manning spent at least thirty days in this cage. According to Manning, “My world had just shrunk. It just shrunk to this 8 X 8 metal cell. I didn’t know what time it was.” Usually, he had known what was going on in the world before his confinement. He had a “solid knowledge of what [was] going on in terms of [his] job and family.”

He knew current events that were happening. He was “grounded pretty firmly” and knew how to connect to the rest of the world. But, after being cut off, he started to not get everything. “Living inside limited surroundings,” his “world just shrunk to Camp Arifjan and then that cage.”

He was arrested on May 29, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Baghdad, Iraq, where he had been working as an analyst. He had been chatting with hacker Adrian Lamo for the past days and Lamo informed the authorities of what Manning was telling him in confidence during the chat about handing over information to WikiLeaks to expose corruption and start worldwide discussions throughout the world.

The date of his trial has been postponed four times: first it was scheduled for sometime in September 2012, then it was scheduled for February this year, then it was scheduled for mid-March of this year and now it is scheduled for June 3 of this year.

His defense argues he has had his speedy trial rights violated. The military prosecutors have requested delay after delay after delay for various reasons: a sanity review board to determine whether Manning was fit to stand trial was having trouble getting organized, classified information prosecutors thought they needed for the Article 32 hearing in December 2011 was not processed, more classified information for the court martial needed to be processed, etc. (The judge has not ruled on the speedy trial motion yet.)

He has had three birthdays while in prison. For one of them, he was denied a birthday package from family because, as Master Sgt. Craig Blenis, who was supposed to be Manning’s counselor and advocate at Quantico, joked in an email, officers “felt like being a couple of dicks.”

Manning faces 22 charges. The most significant charge is that of “aiding the enemy.” If convicted of “aiding the enemy,” he would serve life in prison without parole.

The government argues his act helped al Qaeda. In fact, they went to the trouble of declassifying information that showed Osama bin Laden obtained copies of the US State Embassy cables and some war logs released. They haven’t demonstrated that any members of al Qaeda shared these with Bin Laden after requesting them from a staffer at WikiLeaks. They are simply saying it was available on the Internet for terrorists to read and exploit for their own purpose so Manning should be convicted of “aiding the enemy.”

But, there is virtually no difference between the New York Times publishing information that terrorists can read and WikiLeaks publishing information that terrorists can read.

Manning’s case has developed into the biggest and one of the most important military justice cases in history. He has endured punishment in prison that no person should have to endure, even if they have been convicted. Incidentally, the longer it takes to get to trial, the more Americans support him as they come to the conclusion the military has mishandled the case. He has been punished enough for his alleged acts and should be set free now.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Black Churches Condemn Obama Administration’s Drone Policy as ‘Murder’ and ‘Evil’

February 25th, 2013 - by admin

Black Talk Radio Network – 2013-02-25 23:07:55

http://blacktalkradionetwork.com/page/black-churches-condemn-obama-administration-s-drone-policy-as-mur

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans calls Obama’s policy on the right to kill Americans who are associated with terrorist organizations either at home or abroad murder, which constitutes evil in the Christian tradition. The Holy Scripture says, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”.

Our founding fathers and decent, hard-working American find such policies irrational and without moral merit. The Obama Administration has us believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to humanity, and that they reserve the right through the secular American creed to kill anyone, anywhere, who they label part of a terrorist organization.

This is why they spent 1 trillion dollars to go after ONE man. To make the point that we will kill you dead, and that is the creed of the American soul.

The church is trying to transform the evil mentality that exists in this country. That is our goal. We believe that the greatest threat to humanity are laws that assume moral absolutism to determine who lives and who dies. This is not only foolish in nature, this is destructive.

Should we be reminded of the words of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, that violence can only beget more violence. There can never be a legal rationale that gives a government the right to destroy a human being that God created. Only God preserves that right for himself.

The Revered Anthony Evans says, “I do not know what to say after the pronouncement of this evil policy. This policy has led me to a life of prayer for the soul of this administration and for this President. Anyone who has had anything to do with formulating a policy like this either in the Bush or Obama administration will have to answer before God one day. May God have mercy on their souls.”

Rev Evans continued to ask where the outcry against such a policy is, saying:
“Where are the loud mouths and the so-called drum majors for justice when it comes to correcting this president and this administration on this evil policy.

“Where are you Al Sharpton?? Where are you Jesse Jackson?? Where are you Ben Jealous?? Where are you John Lewis?? Where are you members of the Black caucus? Where are the Catholic bishops?? Where are you “The American Way”? Where are you Rev. Jim Wallis? Where are you Pastor T.D. Jakes? Pastor Creflo Dollar? Where are you Joseph Lowry? Where are the Southern Baptists? Where are you Pastor Joel Osteen? Where are you Dean Alton Pollard?

“If the church does not speak against this immoral policy we will lose our moral voice, our soul, and our right to represent and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The black church is not only appalled that this comes out of the administration of the only black president, but we are frightened by the monstrous tendencies that have emerged from this administration. The unleashing of the mechanical drones kill not only their target but everyone that is near who is morally innocent of any crime.

The church’s heart cries out for mercy and sanity for such an ill-conceived policy. President Obama has to be roaringly condemned by the entire Christian church for allowing such a policy to emerge from such a promising administration.

NBCI cannot be proud of this, and neither can we be supportive of it. This policy should be condemned by both liberal and conservative and especially those who love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly before God.

About NBCI
The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment.

NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website atwww.naltblackchurch.com.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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