Thursday, February 16, 2006

Democracy Now: Cynthia McKinney, Bill Quigley, James Yee, Margaret Kimberley, ACLU, Norman Solomon

U.S. Denies Entry To Iraqi Widows
In other Iraq news, the human rights group
Global Exchange and anti-war group CodePink are criticizing the Bush administration for refusing to allow two Iraqi women into the United States. The women had been scheduled to take part in a speaking tour and to participate in the March 8th Women Say No to War march in Washington Both women are widows whose husbands and children were killed by U.S. troops. According to the groups the State Department rejected the visas because the women didn't have enough family in Iraq to prove that they'll return to the country and not emigrate to the United States. Organizer Medea Benjamin said "It's appalling that the US military killed these women's families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq."

UN Investigators Call on U.S. to Close Guantanamo
In other news, United Nations investigators have called on the Bush administration to immediately close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. The UN report urges the US government to "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The report goes on to state "In the case of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, the U.S. executive operates as judge, as prosecutor, and as defense council: this constitutes serious violations of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial before an independent tribunal." About 500 men are being held at the site. Charges have never been filed against most of them. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the report. He said the U.N. information was based on "hearsay."

Iraqis Outraged Over New Abu Ghraib Photos
In Iraq, the publication of new photographs showing Iraqi detainees being tortured inside the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison is being met by outrage. The Australian broadcaster SBS first aired the photographs on Wednesday and many of the images have been reprinted in Iraqi newspapers and aired on television. One Iraqi citizen, Abd Al-Awadh, says the photos proved the United States was acting in violation of international law. "We feel sorry about the photos we saw yesterday. We saw humiliation to the Iraqis and we saw that there is no respect to the dignity of the Iraqi people in this country, the country where we were masters we are now slaves and the masters come from abroad. In addition to Abu Ghraib abuse photos, we saw Iraqis being beaten in Basra by the British forces. This is a violation of international laws, which they used as a pretext to invade Iraq," said Abd Al-Awadh. "We feel sorry that such acts are being repeated on a daily basis at the Iraqi streets. There is unjustified killings by the U.S. force. The public opinion is misled and regrettably enough the Iraqi prisoner was treated in a barbaric and savage way at the hands of the American forces."

Photographs Depict Corpses, Torture, Naked Men
One photograph showed a man lying dead in the dirt with blood coming out of his head. Another showed a naked man hanging from a bed by his knees. Another prisoner is shown covered in feces. Naked men are also shown in sexually humiliating positions. Prisoners were photographed wearing hoods. Men were also photographed showing what appears to be burn and torture marks. And the outcry over the photos may only intensify. Earlier today published even more photographs from Abu Ghraib. The online publication obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation. The material includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents. According to some of the documents refer to CIA personnel as interrogators of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. To date, no CIA officers have been prosecuted for any crimes that occurred within the prison, despite the death of at least one Iraqi during a CIA interrogation there. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and other groups called for a truly independent investigation to look at all levels of the military chain of command, as well as involvement from other government agencies like the CIA and private military contractors who have been implicated in abuses.

The four items above are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Mia, Joan, Brady and Kansas. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for February 16, 2006

- Aristide Ally, Rene Preval, Wins Haitian Election
- UN Investigators Call on U.S. to Close Guantanamo
- Iraqis Outraged Over New Abu Ghraib Photos
- U.S. Government Criticizes Release of New Photographs
- U.S. Denies Entry To Iraqi Widows
- Cheney Takes Blame For Shooting, Defends Media Response

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney Blasts Government For Creating "New Underclass of Katrina Homeless"

The House select committee examining the federal response to Hurricane Katrina recently released a 600-page report criticizing all levels of government for the disaster. Democrats had refused to be involved in the committee officially, but a few participated informally and released their own supplementary reports. We speak with Georgia Congressmember Cynthia McKinney, one of the participating Democrats. [includes rush transcript]

And yesterday, in public open session the House Armed Services Committee heard testimony about Able Danger, and from three witnesses who testified, they said that if they had been allowed to do their work that that work could possibly have prevented 9/11. And this is the same team of people whose work was called historically insignificant by Dr. Zelikow and whose work Louis Freeh said that if he had had that information, could also quite possibly have saved this country the trauma of 9/11. Now, Dr. Zelikow made a judgment to bury the work of the Able Danger team. And so, for the Democrats to hold the 9/11 Commission up as a model is quite honestly ludicrous. What the American people know after the 9/11 Commission is that they can't trust that particular independent commission to tell them the truth.
But as a result of the work that the Katrina panel did, we at least know more now than we knew before. And what do we know? What's on the congressional record now as a result of the work of the Katrina panel is that President Bush was on vacation at the Texas ranch; Vice President Cheney was fly-fishing in Wyoming; Condoleezza Rice was in New York City where she took in a play, went shopping, and played tennis with Monica Seles; Donald Rumsfeld was at a San Diego Padres game; and Michael Chertoff, the man whose job it was to manage our country's resources and organize the response to this horrific hurricane, didn't even know he was in charge and decided to stay home. Yes, I call for his resignation, too.

FEMA Fails Katrina Evacuees on Housing: Hotel Evictions Continue, Promises of Trailers and Rental Assistance Unmet

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff spoke about the ongoing hotel evictions of Hurricane Katrina evacuees during his testimony before the bi-partisan Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. We speak with attorneys Bill Quigley and Tracie Washington, who represent a number of evacuees staying in hotels and facing eviction, and also an evacuee, about the ongoing housing crisis.

Are New Orleans Evacuees Being Denied the Right to Vote?

We look at how Hurricane Katrina is affecting the political power of New Orleans residents. Upcoming local elections will include a race for mayor with only one black candidate -- incumbent Ray Nagin. Lawyers have filed a lawsuit alleging Louisiana’s emergency election plan will disenfranchise thousands of displaced voters, the majority of whom are African-American.

U.N. Report Calls for the Closing of Guantanamo, Former Prison Chaplain Yee Details Abuses

The United Nations has called on the Bush administration to immediately close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. In a report on conditions at the prison recently released, the U.N. says the United States should try all detainees or release them "without further delay." We speak with former military Chaplain Yee, who was falsely accused of espionage by the U.S military and faced death penalty charges that were eventually dropped.

A lot of highlights so let's move quickly. It's Thursday, new edition of The Black Commentator up. Remember the "temporary detention facilities"? Keesha notes Margaret Kimberley's "Haliburton Detention Centers" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

What ought to shock and terrify every American is that KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, was awarded a $385 million contract to build "temporary detention facilities" in case of an "immigration emergency":
"The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts."
Anyone paying a little bit of attention will ask, "What immigration emergency?" If there is an immigration emergency looming on the horizon it is a big secret. Of course immigrants will be the first ensnared in the net that big brother Bush has in mind, but the net won't stop with them.
Anyone paying a little bit of attention will ask, "What immigration emergency?" If there is an immigration emergency looming on the horizon it is a big secret. Of course immigrants will be the first ensnared in the net that big brother Bush has in mind, but the net won't stop with them.
What sort of national emergency requires detention centers? America has plenty of prisons. More of our population is behind bars than in any country on earth. There are detention centers for immigration in existence already. As for helping in case of a natural disaster, hurricane Katrina proved that saving American lives is not on the Bush agenda.
When the word detention comes up, hairs should rise on the back of every neck. Thanks to the Patriot Act and the creation of "enemy combatants" these detention centers can be used to lock up anyone for any reason for any length of time that Uncle Sam wishes.

We have another highlight from The Black Commentator and that's via Doug who "saw TD Jokes mentioned and thought Texas members of the community would be interested." From Donald H. Smith's "Coretta Scott King Goes Home:"

Importantly, we also cannot be fooled by the Black Faith-based, self-anointed "Bishops" of mega churches who seduce and beguile depressed, often defeated African Americans, whose largess allows them to fly their private jets, drive Rolls Royces and live baronial existences. Instead of advocating to their congregations that they should organize and take direct political action, even civil disobedience as Dr. King consistently urged to secure the "blessings of liberty" to which they are entitled, these "Bishops," whose already sizeable incomes are supplemented by the Republican government's Faith-based Initiative grants, use powerful propaganda oratory to convince their congregations that God will take care of their needs, and, not incidentally, to support President Bush and vote Republican.
"Bishop" Eddie Long, in whose New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia where Mrs. King's funeral was held is typical of the increasing number of money driven Black preachers. It is a cruel irony that the funeral was held in Long's church rather than Ebenezer where Coretta Scott King was a member, where Dr. King was pastor and where his funeral was held. Preacher Eddie Long is the very antithesis of what Dr. King and his wife, Coretta, stood for. In 2004, Bishop Long led a demonstration in Atlanta to the tomb of Dr. King to protest a woman's right to choose and to denounce the right of individuals to marry persons of the same sex. Among the thousands of supporters who marched with preacher Long was Dr. King's daughter, Bernice, a minister at New Birth. Instead of the social justice and freedom advocated by the Kings, preacher Long endorses the conservative mandates of the Republican government. Coretta Scott King opposed the march, and reaffirmed her stance for human rights and social justice.
"Bishop" T.D. Jakes, whose mega church in Dallas has a reputed congregation of 30, 000 members, and who sells "blessings" for $50, $500 or whatever larger sum he can persuade, was also a speaker at Mrs. King's funeral, though his brief words were hollow, unlike the bombastic oratory for which he is well known. Like Bishop Long, Bishop Jakes is a friend and supporter of President Bush and the Republican government's Project for a New American Century. Simply stated, PNAC is a plan conceived by powerful white Republicans in the early 1990s for the United States to control the world. PNAC's creators included Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Jeb Bush.

This morning, did you check out Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches:

On Wednesday 16 February 2006, Australian public broadcaster SBS current affairs program DATELINE telecast a segment featring 60 new photos of the torture inflicted on prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These photos were secured by court order -- the ACLU figures prominently in the report -- but these photos haven't yet been shown in the media anywhere in the United States. Because of the broadcast on SBS, you now have access to both Web-downloadable versions and BitTorrent file-sharing network versions of the broadcast on this site. THESE PHOTOS ARE VERY DISTURBING. Please do not view this video if you are easily disturbed by graphic imagery of torture and death.
Download the SBS Abu Ghraib video (mp4)

Erika notes this from the ACLU's "New Abu Ghraib Photos Confirm Need for Independent Counsel, ACLU Says:"

In response to newly released images of abuse at Abu Ghraib, the American Civil Liberties Union today renewed its call for an independent investigation into widespread and systemic abuse in U.S. detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

"We continue to see undeniable evidence that abuse and torture has been widespread and systematic, yet high level government officials have not been held accountable for creating the policies that led to these atrocities," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "We need to look up the chain of military command, because when the rule of law is not followed all of our personal freedoms are threatened. President Bush should appoint an independent counsel to uncover the full truth about the extent of the abuse and who is ultimately responsible."
The ACLU has sued the Department of Defense for withholding photographs and videos depicting abuse at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities. In September, a federal judge in New York ruled that the government must turn over the Abu Ghraib images, as well as other visual evidence of abuse, noting "the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed." The decision is currently on appeal by the government. The ACLU said it does not know whether the new photos aired by the Australian "Dateline" program are the same photos being withheld by the government.

"The public has a right to know the full truth about the treatment of detainees not just in Abu Ghraib but elsewhere in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. "Instead of continuing to deny the widespread abuse, the government must hold relevant officials accountable for this abuse."

Kyle feels that someone apparently "didn't get the memo." (Or maybe Solomon knew, to steal from Lily Tomlin's Violet in Nine to Five, knew just where to put it.) From Norman Solomon's "Dick Cheney's Fox Trot" (CounterPunch):

Ironically -- while news outlets kept using the phrase "full responsibility" -- the transcript of the interview posted on shows that Cheney never used any form of the word "responsibility."
Whatever their exact words, the politicians who can't avoid acknowledging culpability are often the beneficiaries of excessive media plaudits for supposedly owning up to what they've done wrong. But those politicians rarely do more than just what the spin doctor ordered.
It's not brave or even forthright for an official to express the contrition that seems advisable from a public-relations standpoint. When a convicted defendant voices remorse just before sentencing, the statement is often viewed as little more than a ploy dictated by circumstance. But when a politician ostensibly "takes responsibility" in the court of public opinion, much of the media coverage attaches great significance to an essentially hollow statement that is a transparent effort to extinguish a scandal-fueled firestorm.
In almost every instance when a politician "takes responsibility" with great fanfare, there's no penalty attached to the proclamation. Across the terrain of political media, the I-take-responsibility maneuver is the equivalent of a hit-and-run driver offering an over-the-shoulder yell of "Sorry about that" while speeding away from a grisly scene.

I hope everyone caught KeShawn's highlight last night. Carl says to tell Billie he enjoyed her highlight and that he went to the site and found something he wanted to share, Roy Douglas Malonson's "Black leaders must know history to know their peoples' progress" (African American News & Issues):

Truth is, most Black people simply don't know history makers. Even when they're family members. That's why we work hard to change our estimated 2 million reader's perception of history. Accordingly, our readers have begun to share their family's history with us. Readers like Ivory "Bo" Davis, Jr., who is justly proud of his history making father, a Fifth Ward resident that played an important role in Houston, Texas' labor unions. As a result, Michael R. Botson dedicated his 2005 book (Labor Civil Rights, and the Hughes Tool Company) to him. Ivory Jr., a City of Houston employee and musician, shares the book. To wit: "In 1962 Ivory Davis, a Black material handler, longtime employee at Hughes Tool, and union member, filed charges against the company and union with the Labor Board that eventually led to the decision." Davis' action against the union stemmed from the white leadership's refusal to file a grievance on his behalf after management denied him an apprenticeship because of his race. The union's labor agreement with Hughes Tool reserved apprenticeships for Whites only. In 1962 Davis and the black union leaders decided to challenge the validity of the race-based labor contract between Hughes Tool and the IMW. They did so by taking the unusual step of seeking to decertify their union as the collective bargaining agent for the company's employees. Their action was the beginning of a two-year struggle that combined the efforts of the federal government, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and African American unionists at Hughes Tool to break Jim Crow's grip over the company's workforce.

Whose birthday is Saturday? Lynda notes Brian Gilmore's "Happy birthday, Toni Morrison" (The Progressive Media Project, The Progressive):

Novelist Toni Morrison turns 75 on Feb. 18, and the nation -- as well as the world -- ought to take note of this American literary giant.
Perhaps no other U.S. writer has explored the issues of racism, sexism and class in American society so honestly and so beautifully as this Nobel laureate has. As the New York Review of Books declared years ago, Toni Morrison is "the closest thing the country has to a national writer."
Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland in 1931, Morrison's parents-- like millions of other African-Americans -- had migrated north from Alabama to escape the stark legalized racism of the South. The family settled in the working class city of Lorain and Toni, shielded from the overt racial apartheid of the American South, became an insatiable reader.
Eventually, the young Chloe attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and graduated in 1953. While at Howard, she changed her name to "Toni," explaining that people found "Chloe" too difficult to pronounce.
After earning her master's degree from Cornell University in 1955, Morrison taught at several universities around the country, including her alma mater, Howard.
By the mid-1960s, Morrison was working as an editor for Random House in New York City and dreaming of writing her own books.

Brandon notes an item regarding Iraq that we'll include now to remind everyone that it's Thursday and indymedia roundup tonight.

Students and journalists join anti-US strike in Iraq

by Simon Assaf
Students in Baghdad have called a strike in protest at the murder of Dr Ali Abdul Razaq al-Naas, a journalism lecturer from Mustansiriya university and popular TV commentator.
The students from one of Iraq's oldest universities, clashed with riot police during a demonstration in protest at the killing of al-Naas. They have called on journalists and government workers to join their protest.
Al-Nass was gunned down by unknown assailants in the Iraqi captial on 27 January after he called for an end to the occupation during a TV panel show.
Many prominent Iraqi journalists have now joined the Baghdad students' campaign.
Hamid Abdullah, a columnist on the al-Mashriq daily, told his readers he was joining the protest because there is "no freedom with chaos, no effective word with treacherous bullet".
Another senior journalist, Hatem Hassan, announced he was joining the strike on 3 February.
The murder of al-Naas has highlighted the difficulties faced by university professors, scientists and teachers in Iraq.
According to the Brussels Tribunal, an anti-war organisation that monitors the occupation of Iraq, over 250 Iraqi educators have been assassinated and hundreds have disappeared since the invasion in 2003.
Many of them are believed to have been killed because of their outspoken opposition to the occupation.
Among the victims have been Abdul Aziz el-Atrachi, a professor from the College of Agriculture and Forestry in Mosul, who was gunned down in front of his students by US soldiers.
Another is Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor, who died while being interogated in US custody.
Others have been gunned down by masked men on their way home or outside universities.
The Brussels Tribunal has denounced the murders as a "catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard".
It has launched an online petition campaign to "end the silence" over the killings.
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