The Audacity of Having a Voice

17 06 2009

We have so villified the Iranians. Made them to be the enemy. Bush called them part of the “axis of evil.” We have feared them, mistrusted them, hated them, wanted to harm them.

Credit: Huffington Post

Credit: Huffington Post

I am in awe of the Iranian people. These are people standing up for freedom and for having a voice. Would you have such courage to protest as they are doing now?

Why, when Bush stole the election in 2000, did people in the United States not stand up and protest? Why, when Bush tortured people and we knew about it, did we not cast him and Cheney out of office? Why, when we knew that the Bush Administration was monitoring ordinary citizens, clamping down our human rights, and creating legal documents to make themselves a monarchy with absolute authority did we do nothing?

Where is our moral courage and passion to march, protest, and demand an end to child trafficking or sexual abuse or violence against women? What about children going hungry even in our own country or people living in tents or elderly people who can’t afford their prescriptions? Do we stand up and say ENOUGH!? Do we write our lawmakers who make light of these situations and spend more money on weapons than feeding people and helping the afflicted? Do we do ANYTHING? 

Would you march silently to give voice and to stand up for something you strongly believe in? Is there anything so important to you that you would risk arrest, injury, or even death as the Iranians are doing? 

Consider spending 10 minutes each day in meditation for healing in our world. It’s the least we can do.

Here is a video of people in Tehran peacefully protesting the election results today. This brings tears to my eyes. This is courage and conviction in action. I hope that we can all begin to see the Iranians…and so many other people speaking out all over the world for freedom from violence and freedom for a voice…as our brothers and sisters who are to be loved and applauded and not enemies to be feared and hated.

 

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U.S. Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

15 03 2009

Chilling. In the tortureds’ own words. US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites is the name of the cover article in the April 9 issue of the New York Review of Books. This is a must-read article by Mark Danner, a long-time contributor to the Review and the author of the book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror.

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner - Source: NYBooks.com

Mark Danner contributed an OpEd to the 3/14/09 New York Times about the article. He talks of how on September 6, 2006 President Bush first “…informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists. He says that President Bush’s remarks included the following:

“In addition to the terrorists held at Guantánamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. At these places, the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”

In that speech, Bush also said that 14 “high-value detainees” would be transferred from overseas Black Sites to Guantanamo and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would have the opportunity to meet with them.

In the Review article are excerpts from a secret ICRC report that details how the U.S. tortured prisoners at the Black Sites. The press release for this article includes this description of the kind of torture that was authorized by President Bush:

This “alternative set of procedures,” as President Bush characterized them in a White House speech, including extended “sleep deprivation,” prolonged forced nudity, bombarding detainees with noise and light, repeated immersion in cold water, prolonged standing, sometimes for many days, beatings of various kinds, and “waterboarding” – or as the report’s authors phrase it, “suffocation by water.” These interrogations are described in chilling first-person accounts gathered confidentially by ICRC investigators and made public here for the first time.

You can hear a podcast of Mark Danner speaking on this at the New York Review of Books website.

Danner’s article backs up what Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has also written about in her excellent book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.”  I heard Jane speak about this book at the Texas Book Festival on 11/2/08 and read her excellent book. It is eye-opening.

I believe that every American should educate themselves on the crimes that Bush, Cheney, Addington, Woo, Rumsfeld, and others committed during the Bush Administration. These people were authorizing and justifying (with bogus legal documents) torture in secret while denying it in public. Senator Patrick Leahy is urging Americans to join him in calling for a commission to investigate abuses during the Bush/Cheney admninistration. Please visit the website at http://www.bushtruthcommission.com and sign the petition. No one should be allowed to so denigrate the office of the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, the United States, the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the honor of the American people and totally walk away without any consequences. No one.





Bashmilah: Innocent Yet Disappeared, Held Captive, Tortured

20 02 2009

Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah was disappeared by the U.S., held captive for 19 months, and tortured. He writes a chilling tale about it in an article on the Huffington Post.

Bashmilla

Bashmilah

According to the short bio there, he is “…a citizen of Yemen, is a client of the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law, which represents him in his quest for truth and justice.” He starts his article with these words:

“From October 2003 until May 2005, I was illegally detained by the U.S. government and held in CIA-run “black sites” with no contact with the outside world. On May 5, 2005, without explanation, my American captors removed me from my cell and cuffed, hooded, and bundled me onto a plane that delivered me to Sana’a, Yemen. I was transferred into the custody of my own government, which held me — apparently at the behest of the United States — until March 27, 2006, when I was finally released, never once having faced any terrorism-related charges. Since my release, the U.S. government has never explained why I was detained and has blocked all attempts to find out more about my detention.”

I encourage you to read the rest of the post. This program of capturing people who may or may not be terrorists and renditioning them…disappearing them…to another country where they are then tortured was practiced secretly by President Bush. Surprisingly to me, according to the HuffPo article, this practice has been going on for decades and was alledgedly practiced by President Clinton 80 times. The difference, according to Panetta, is whether the prisoner is sent to another country for prosecution or torture.

Bush sent detainees to other countries for torture. He wanted them off U.S. soil so illegal torture could be done to them outside our country’s watch. Senator Patrick Leahy is calling for a commission to investigate abuses during the Bush/Cheney administration. I urge you to sign the petition to urge Congress to create this commission by going to http://www.bushtruthcommission.com.





Bush Legacy in 8 Minutes

16 01 2009

Sobering. The two men most responsible for authorizing the United States’ use of torture will receive pensions of $196,700 (Bush) and $132,451 (Cheney) per year – both adjusted for inflation. How does that make you feel to know that your hard-earned money is going to two men who crippled our country, egregiously broke the law, and decided they were above abiding by the Geneva Conventions? Watch and be reminded of why our country is in the shape it is.





Bush Ducks as an Iraqi Takes Aim

15 12 2008

Disrespectful? Yes. Understandable? Also yes. Bush had two shoes thrown at him today by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi during a press conference in Iraq. Showing the soles of shoes is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

When the first one was thrown, the Iraqi journalist throwing it said: “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”

When he threw the second shoe, he said: “This is from the widows, the orphans and those killed in Iraq.”

Zeidi knew first-hand about the violence in Iraq: he was kidnapped last year by Shiite militiamen, tortured, and later released. He has also had relatives killed in fighting in Iraq.

Reports vary wildly of how many Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invaded in 2003. The website http://www.IraqBodyCount.org lists 89,878 – 98,139 documented civilian Iraqi deaths in that time period. Other counts are much higher. On October 10, 2006, the New York Times reported that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study said that over 600,000 Iraqi deaths had occurred…and that was over two years ago.

With so many innocent Iraqi citizens killed, it’s understandable that they would feel hatred toward Bush. Saddam Hussein was responsible for over 2 million people being killed (many of these Iranians). Bush’s decision to take the U.S. into war in Iraq on false pretenses has not had the reign of terror that Saddam Hussein had, but to the Iraqis, it may feel like it…and the numbers are startling.

Bush seems to have no remorse or any feeling at all over the havoc he has created in the world and the many many lives that have been lost, destroyed, or forever changed because of his actions. Throwing shoes at him, while disrespectful, is mild considering the damage he’s done. When he’s out of office, will there be repercussions for his having authorized torture? For lying repeatedly to the American public? Will people be standing in line to “throw shoes” at him?

 





Bush: Remained True to His Values – And Authorized Torture

28 11 2008

Bush, who authorized torture, wants to be remembered for remaining faithful to his values. He says that he “…did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the  political process,” according to CNN.

Jane Mayer, who writes for The New Yorker, wrote a book about how the Bush Administration used 9/11 to justify absolute authority to do whatever they pleased in a book called The Dark Side:  The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. I heard Jane speak in Austin at the Texas Book Festival and bought and read this book. It is shocking and eye-opening.  

PBS is holding a documentary called “Torturing Democracy,” about the Bush Administration ordering coercive interrogation techniques and torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. They say they cannot find a place on their schedule for it until January 21st, 2009, the day after Bush leaves office.

Watch for yourself at http://www.torturingdemocracy.org and ask yourself if you ordered what is depicted in this documentary, if these are values you’d be proud of. Here is a clip from the documentary.

 





Dear George Bush and Henry Paulson

14 11 2008

Bush and Paulson have misled the American public about the bailout and continue to do so. The market declined from 13,058 on May 2nd to 10,825 on September 24th, the day McCain suspended his campaign to rush back due to the emergency in Washington. Why was there all of a sudden THAT WEEK an emergency? The market was the same as it had been since July. CLICK HERE to continue reading