Friday, June 16, 2006

Other Items (Rachel Meeropol and a debate on interrogations on DN! today)

In the lawsuit, the federal government invokes the state-secrets privilege, in which the government asserts that any discussion of a given lawsuit's claims would threaten national security.
"Compliance with the subpoenas issued by those officers would first place the carriers in a position of having to confirm or deny the existence of information that cannot be confirmed or denied without causing exceptionally grave harm to national security," Assistant United States Attorney Irene Dowdy claimed in the government's complaint. "And if particular carriers are indeed supplying foreign intelligence information to the federal government, compliance with the subpoenas would require disclosure of the details of that activity."
But in an interview on Thursday, Ms. Farber said that it was incumbent upon her to insure that the phone companies were not violating state law if they had turned in any phone records to the N.S.A. The New York Times first reported in December that President Bush had authorized the security agency to conduct eavesdropping without warrants. Last month, USA Today reported that the N.S.A. had created a large database of phone calls made by customers of several phone companies.
A few days after the USA Today article was published, Ms. Farber issued subpoenas to phone companies that operate in New Jersey. Yet few people outside of state government and the phone companies knew about them.

The above is from David W. Chen and Matt Richtel's "New Jersey Demands Data on Phone Call Surveillance and Is Sued by U.S." in this morning's New York Times. Brandon noted it and noted: "It's really sad that they're still reaching back to December to prove they've had anything to offer in months." It is sad . . . and that's the New York Times.

Let's note Margaret Kimberley's latest, "Randall Kennedy Defends Racist Violence" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

The people who were once considered black leaders have reached their collective nadir. Ken Blackwell, Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, has written election rules so draconian that anyone who helps another register to vote risks the possibility of jail time. Chicago Alderwoman Emma Mitts has sided with Wal-Mart in opposing living wages for her constituents. Andrew Young supports ID requirements that will deny black voters in Georgia their right to the ballot. He is also Wal-Mart's highest paid shill. Now black attorneys testify on behalf of white people who commit hate crimes.
Randall Kennedy is a black law professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book N***er: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. (See BC
August 22, 2002) The need for such a book always eluded me, but Kennedy managed to make a name for himself, quite a lot of money, and a secure place on the speaking circuit.
His former colleague at Harvard, Derrick Bell, wrote presciently about Kennedy in 1998. Bell taught a course called, Race, Racism and American Law and gave Kennedy his
blessing to continue teaching it when he returned from a visiting professorship.
It was a decision I came to regret. Kennedy retained the course name, but dropped its advocacy orientation. Disgruntled students complained that Kennedy spent more time challenging and even denigrating civil rights positions than he did analyzing the continuing practices and policies of discrimination that made those policies, whatever their shortcomings, necessary.
Bell could not have imagined how low Kennedy would sink.

A number of members noted it and Keesha asked if we could not put the N-word up here. It's the title of the book but I do understand (and respect) her feelings so we've noted it the way we did above. (I also know that week after week, some visitor e-mails me to say "How dare you write" on Kimberley's latest so a lot of people are easily confused. Better to excerpt it that way at this site.) If you haven't already checked out the article, please do. Kimberley's a strong voice who speaks to the community because she always speaks from strength.

Carl (who also noted Kimberley's column) asked if we could highlight Bruce Dixon's "Black Caucus Caves to Corporate Power" (The Black Commentator) as well? Can and will:

The independence of black American leadership is under assault by a tsunami of cash. Unprecedented levels of corporate underwriting are subverting black civic organizations. Tens of millions in faith-based federal grants have been deployed to suborn black clergy. Rivers of charitable and campaign contributions have been invested in subduing or silencing the voices of African America elected officials. Predictably, the onslaught is taking its toll.
Last week the House of Representatives passed the COPE Act, which will turn the free and open Information Superhighway into a corporate toll road, and lift regulations that force cable and telephone companies to serve poor and minority areas. Only 46% of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against it. But in a stunning repudiation of its own historic claims to be the "conscience of the congress" and the authentic voice of African America in national affairs, a mere 13 out of 40 voting CBC members in the House summoned the courage to buck the tide of corporate cash and stand up for their constituents. (The two delegates from Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot vote on the House floor.) Two-thirds of the Caucus capitulated to corporate power, a more shameful showing than Democratic members as a whole. As "conscience of the congress," the Congressional Black Caucus is pretty much over.
To comprehend the depths of this betrayal we must understand that there are absolutely no economic development cases which can be made with a straight face for turning the free Internet into a corporate toll road, or for allowing cable and phone companies to deny premium broadband service to all but the wealthiest customers.

As the "crackdown" goes on Baghdad, the violence continues. Martha notes the Associated Press' "Baghdad Mosque Bombing Kills 7, Wounds 18" (Washington Post):

A suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers in Baghdad, killing at least seven people and wounding 18, police said, as violence persisted despite a driving ban and increased security measures aimed at restoring order in the capital.

For more reality on Iraq, Tevin highlights Aaron Glantz and Alaa Hassan 's "Basra Begins to Fall Apart" (IPS):

Basra in the south of Iraq is beginning to splinter under increasing violence and sectarian divisions.
Smuggling of oil on a large scale coupled with increasing violence and the lack of basic services like water and electricity has caused increasing tensions in the city, 570km south of Baghdad. More than 100 civilians have been killed in Basra so far this month.
Residents are pointing the finger at the governor and the British military, which occupies the city.
Before the recent spate of killings, Basra had a reputation as one of the most peaceful cities in occupied Iraq. The British military -- whose 8,000 soldiers in Iraq control Basra -- were considered by many to be more humane than their American counterparts.
But when thousands of residents took to the streets earlier this month to protest high unemployment and corruption in the governor's office, the British attacked the demonstrators with helicopters. Fighters responded.
"They shot down a helicopter," As'aad Kareem, president of the Iraqi oil workers union in Basra told IPS. "It was real resistance. They shot it down because the British were supporting the governor and shooting at the people in the demonstration. And the governor didn't stop the British from bombing the demonstration, and so that's his responsibility also."
"I visited Basra last year and I've seen the piles -- or mountains -- of garbage in the city," said Amjad Ali al-Jawahary, North American representative of the Iraqi trade union movement. He said frustration had been building in Basra before the violence broke out.

We'll also note Jim Lobe's "Iraq Exodus Ends Four-Year Decline in Refugees" (IPS) which was published June 14th and does a better job of outlining the refugee issue than a Times article did:

An exodus of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis escaping growing violence in their homeland last year increased the total number of refugees around the world to some 12 million, according to the World Refugee Survey 2006 released here Wednesday by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). That total marked a reversal of a four-year trend of declining numbers of refugees. From 2001 to the end of 2004, the total number of people who crossed international borders in search of a safe haven from persecution or war fell from nearly 15 million to 11.5 million, according to the report. "The increase is largely due to 650,000 more Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan and Syria," said USCRI's president, Lavinia Limon. "Although some Iraqis may be fleeing generalised violence, individuals and groups are targeted on the basis of political affiliation, professions, ethnic, or religious differences -- the definition of a refugee." Moreover, she said that protections for fleeing Iraqis appear to be deteriorating, as Syria has begun to require residency permits, forcing many refugees to live underground, while Jordan has failed to so far to grant refugee status to Iraqis and is turning many back at the border. The erosion of such protections, according to the report, is typical of what is happening in many countries around the world, as governments increasingly erect barriers to prevent people fleeing persecution and conflict from entering their territory and force those who have arrived to return home.


* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Fri, June 23
7:30 PM
Amy Goodman Speaks With Italian Journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in Iraq in February of 2005
Columbia University, Lerner Hall
For more information:

Today on Democracy Now!, Rachel Meeropol with the Center for Constitutional Rights is a guest and there's a debate on whether psychiatrists and psychologists should participate in interrogations (they shouldn't, my opinion). So be sure to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

The e-mail address for this site is

[C.I. note: As noted many times, I don't know the date unless I'm looking at the front of the paper. The Amy Goodman event, as the date indicates, is next Friday. ]