October 31, 2010

Wolfowitz Directive Gave Legal Cover to Detainee Experimentation Program.

by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye

(Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

Truthout Editor's Note: When President George W. Bush authorized waterboarding and other forms of torture on “war on terror” detainees, the patterns of abusive treatment and the gauging of physiological responses always had an experimental feel, as if the interrogators were testing how best to break a person’s resistance.

Now, after a seven-month investigation, Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye report that some technical revisions in US government policies on human experimentation created apparent loopholes that allowed the detainees to be used as human guinea pigs for studies in behaviorial modification.

In 2002, as the Bush administration was turning to torture and other brutal techniques for interrogating "war on terror" detainees, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz loosened rules against human experimentation, an apparent recognition of legal problems regarding the novel strategies for extracting and evaluating information from the prisoners.

Wolfowitz issued a little-known directive on March 25, 2002, about a month after President George W. Bush stripped the detainees of traditional prisoner-of-war protections under the Geneva Conventions. Bush labeled them "unlawful enemy combatants" and authorized the CIA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake brutal interrogations.

Despite its title - "Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD-Supported Research" - the Wolfowitz directive weakened protections that had been in place for decades by limiting the safeguards to "prisoners of war."

"We're dealing with a special breed of person here," Wolfowitz said about the war on terror detainees only four days before signing the new directive.

One former Pentagon official, who worked closely with the agency's ex-general counsel William Haynes, said the Wolfowitz directive provided legal cover for a top-secret Special Access Program at the Guantanamo Bay prison, which experimented on ways to glean information from unwilling subjects and to achieve "deception detection."

"A dozen [high-value detainees] were subjected to interrogation methods in order to evaluate their reaction to those methods and the subsequent levels of stress that would result," said the official.

A July 16, 2004 Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) report obtained by Truthout shows that between April and July 2003, a "physiological warfare specialist" atached to the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program was present at Guantanamo. The CID report says the instructor was assigned to a top-secret Special Access Program.

In his book "The Terror Presidency," Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, said Wolfowitz was “put in charge of questions regarding detainees” at Guantanamo. Goldsmith also previously worked with Haynes at the Pentagon.

It has been known since 2009, when President Barack Obama declassified some of the Bush administration's legal memoranda regarding the interrogation program, that there were experimental elements to the brutal treatment of detainees, including the sequencing and duration of the torture and other harsh tactics.

However, the Wolfowitz directive also suggests that the Bush administration was concerned about whether its actions might violate Geneva Conventions rules that were put in place after World War II when grisly Nazi human experimentation was discovered. Those legal restrictions were expanded in the 1970s after revelations about the CIA testing drugs on unsuspecting human subjects and conducting other mind-control experiments.

For its part, the DoD insists that it "has never condoned nor authorized the use of human research testing on any detainee in our custody," according to spokeswoman Wendy Snyder.

However, from the start of the war on terror, the Bush administration employed nontraditional methods for designing interrogation protocols, including the reverse engineering of training given to American troops trapped behind enemy lines, called the SERE techniques. For instance, the controlled-drowning technique of waterboarding was lifted from SERE manuals.

Shielding Rumsfeld

Retired US Air Force Capt. Michael Shawn Kearns, a former SERE intelligence officer, said the Wolfowitz directive appears to be a clear attempt to shield then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from the legal consequences of "any dubious research practices associated with the interrogation program."

Scott Horton, a human rights attorney and constitutional expert, noted Wolfowitz's specific reference to "prisoners of war" as protected under the directive, as opposed to referring more generally to detainees or people under the government's control.

"At the time that Wolfowitz was issuing this directive, the Bush administration was taking the adamant position that prisoners taken in the' war on terror' were not 'prisoners of war' under the Geneva Conventions and were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

"Indeed, it called those protections 'privileges' that were available only to 'lawful combatants.' So the statement [in the directive] that 'prisoners of war' cannot be subjects of human experimentation ... raises some concerns - why was the more restrictive term 'prisoners of war' used instead of 'prisoners' for instance."

The Wolfowitz directive also changed other rules regarding waivers of informed consent. After the scandals over the CIA's MKULTRA program and the Tuskegee experiments on African-Americans suffering from syphilis, Congress passed legislation known as the Common Rule to provide protections to human research subjects.

The Common Rule "requires a review of proposed research by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), the informed consent of research subjects, and institutional assurances of compliance with the regulations."

Individuals who lack the capacity to provide "informed consent" must have an IRB determine if they would benefit from the proposed research. In certain cases, that decision could also be made by the subject's "legal representative."

However, according to the Wolfowitz directive, waivers of informed consent could be granted by the heads of DoD divisions.

Professor Alexander M. Capron, who oversees human rights and health law at the World Health Organization, said the delegation of the power to waive informed consent procedures to Pentagon officials is "controversial both because it involves a waiver of the normal requirements and because the grounds for that waiver are so open-ended."

The Wolfowitz directive also changes language that had required DoD researchers to strictly adhere to the Nuremberg Directives for Human Experimentation and other precedents when conducting human subject research.

The Nuremberg Code, which was a response to the Nazi atrocities, made "the voluntary consent of the human subject ... absolutely essential." However, the Wolfowitz directive softened a requirement of strict compliance to this code, instructing researchers simply to be "familiar" with its contents.

"Why are DoD-funded investigators just required to be 'familiar' with the Nuremberg Code rather than required to comply with them?" asked Stephen Soldz, director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Program Development at Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

Soldz also wondered why "enforcement was moved from the Army Surgeon General or someone else in the medical chain of command to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering" and why "this directive changed at this time, as the 'war on terror' was getting going."

Soldz is co-author of a report published in June by the international doctors' organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which found that high-value detainees who were subjected to brutal torture techniques by the CIA were used as "guinea pigs" to gauge the effectiveness of the various "enhanced interrogation" methods. PHR told Truthout it first examined the Wolfowitz directive and changes Congress made to 10 USC 980, the law that governs how the Defense Department spends federal funds on human experimentation, in 2008 while preparing its report, but did not cite either because the group could not explain its significance.

Treating Soldiers

The original impetus for the changes seems to have related more to the use of experimental therapies on US soldiers facing potential biological and other dangers in war zones.

The House Armed Services Committee proposed amending 10 USC 980 prior to the 9/11 attacks. But the Bush administration pressed for the changes after 9/11 as the United States was preparing to invade Afghanistan and new medical products might be needed for soldiers on the battlefield without their consent, said two former officials from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Yet, there were concerns about the changes even among Bush administration officials. In a September 24, 2001, memo to lawmakers, Bush's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the "administration is concerned with the provision allowing research to be conducted on human subjects without their informed consent in order to advance the development of a medical product necessary to the armed forces."

The OMB memo said the Bush administration understood that the DoD had a "legitimate need" for "waiver authority for emergency research," but "the provision as drafted may jeopardize existing protections for human subjects in research, and must be significantly narrowed."

However, the broader language moved forward, as did planning for the new war on terror interrogation procedures.

In December 2001, Pentagon general counsel Haynes and other agency officials contacted the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), which runs SERE schools for teaching US soldiers to resist interrogation and torture if captured by an outlaw regime. The officials wanted a list of interrogation techniques that could be used for detainee "exploitation," according to a report released last year by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

These techniques, as they were later implemented by the CIA and the Pentagon, were widely discussed as "experimental" in nature.

Back in Congress, the concerns from the OMB about loose terminology were brushed aside and the law was amended to give the DoD greater leeway regarding experimentation on human subjects.

A paragraph to the law, which had not been changed since it was first enacted in 1972, was added authorizing the defense secretary to waive "informed consent" for human subject research and experimentation. It was included in the 2002 Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress in December 2001. The Wolfowitz directive implemented the legislative changes Congress made to 10 USC 980 when it was issued three months later.

The changes to the "informed consent" section of the law were in direct contradiction to presidential and DoD memoranda issued in the 1990s that prohibited such waivers related to classified research. A memo signed in 1999 by Secretary of Defense William Cohen called for the prohibitions on "informed consent" waivers to be added to the Common Rule regulations covering DoD research, but DoD never implemented it.

Congressional Assistance

As planning for the highly classified Special Access Program began to take shape, most officials in Congress appear to have averted their eyes, with some even lending a hand.

The ex-DIA officials said the Pentagon briefed top lawmakers on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee in November and December 2001, including the panel's chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and his chief of staff Patrick DeLeon, about experimentation and research involving detainee interrogations that centered on "deception detection."

To get a Special Access Program like this off the ground, the Pentagon needed DeLeon's help, given his long-standing ties to the American Psychological Association (APA), where he served as president in 2000, the sources said.

According to former APA official Bryant Welch, DeLeon's role proved crucial.

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"For significant periods of time DeLeon has literally directed APA staff on federal policy matters and has dominated the APA governance on political matters," Welch wrote. "For over twenty-five years, relationships between the APA and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been strongly encouraged and closely coordinated by DeLeon....

"When the military needed a mental health professional to help implement its interrogation procedures, and the other professions subsequently refused to comply, the military had a friend in Senator Inouye's office, one that could reap the political dividends of seeds sown by DeLeon over many years."

John Bray, a spokesman for Inuoye, said in late August he would look into questions posed by Truthout about the Wolfowitz directive and the meetings involving DeLeon and Inuoye. But Bray never responded nor did he return follow-up phone calls and emails. DeLeon did not return messages left with his assistant.

Legal Word Games

Meanwhile, in January 2002, President Bush was receiving memos from then-Justice Department attorneys Jay Bybee and John Yoo as well as from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Bush's White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, advising Bush to deny members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Conventions.

Also, about a month before the Wolfowitz directive was issued, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) asked Joint Forces Command if they could get a "crash course" on interrogation for the next interrogation team headed out to Guantanamo, according to the Armed Services Committee's report. That request was sent to Brig. Gen. Thomas Moore and was approved.

Bruce Jessen, the chief psychologist of the SERE program, and Joseph Witsch, a JPRA instructor, led the instructional seminar held in early March 2002.

The seminar included a discussion of al-Qaeda's presumed methods of resisting interrogation and recommended specific methods interrogators should use to defeat al-Qaeda's resistance. According to the Armed Services Committee report, the presentation provided instructions on how interrogations should be conducted and on how to manage the "long term exploitation" of detainees.

There was a slide show, focusing on four primary methods of treatment: "isolation and degradation," "sensory deprivation," "physiological pressures" and "psychological pressures."

According to Jessen and Witsch's instructor's guide, isolation was the "main building block of the exploitation process," giving the captor "total control" over the prisoner's "inputs." Examples were provided on how to implement "degradation," by taking away a prisoner's personal dignity. Methods of sensory deprivation were also discussed as part of the training.

Jessen and Witsch denied that "physical pressures," which later found their way into the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program, were taught at the March meeting.

However, Jessen, along with Christopher Wirts, chief of JPRA's Operational Support Office, wrote a memo for Southern Command's Directorate of Operations (J3), entitled "Prisoner Handling Recommendations," which urged Guantanamo authorities to take punishment beyond "base line rules."

So, by late March 2002, the pieces were in place for a strategy of behavior modification designed to break down the will of the detainees and extract information from them. Still, to make the procedures "legal," some reinterpretations of existing laws and regulation were needed.

For instance, attorneys Bybee and Yoo would narrow the definition of "torture" to circumvent laws prohibiting the brutal interrogation of detainees.

"Vulnerable" Individuals

In his directive, Wolfowitz also made subtle, but significant, word changes. While retaining the blanket prohibition against experimenting on prisoners of war, Wolfowitz softened the language for other types of prisoners, using a version of rules about "vulnerable" classes of individuals taken from regulations meant for civilian research by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

This research and experimentation examined physiological markers of stress, such as cortisol, and involved psychologists under contract to the CIA and the military who were experts in the field, the ex-DIA officials said.

One study, called "The War Fighter's Stress Response," was conducted between 2002 and 2003 and examined physiological measurements of mock torture subjects drawn from the SERE program and other high-stress military personnel, such as Special Forces Combat Divers.

Researchers measured cortisol and other hormone levels via salivary swabbing and blood samples, a process that also was reportedly done to war on terror detainees.

Three weeks after the Wolfowitz directive was signed, SERE psychologist Jessen produced a Draft Exploitation Plan for use at Guantanamo. According to the Armed Services Committee's report, JPRA was offering its services for "oversight, training, analysis, research, and [tactics, techniques, and procedures] development" to Joint Forces Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner. (Emphasis added.)

There were other indications that research was an important component of JPRA services to the DoD and CIA interrogation programs. When three JPRA personnel were sent to a Special Mission Unit associated with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in August 2003 for what was believed to be special training in interrogation, one of the three was JPRA's manager for research and development.

Three former top military officials interviewed by the Armed Services Committee have described Guantanamo as a "battle lab."

According to Col. Britt Mallow, the commander of the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF), he was uncomfortable when Guantanamo officials Maj. Gen. Mike Dunleavy and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller used the term "battle lab," meaning "that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit DoD in other places."

CITF's deputy commander told the Senate investigators, "there were many risks associated with this concept ... and the perception that detainees were used for some 'experimentation' of new unproven techniques had negative connotations."

In May 2005, a former military officer who attended a SERE training facility sent an email to Middle East scholar Juan Cole stating that "Gitmo must be being used as a 'laboratory' for all these psychological techniques by the [counter-intelligence] guys."

The Al-Qahtani Experiment

One of the high-value detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo who appears to have been a victim of human experimentation was Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was captured in January 2002.

A sworn statement filed by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, al-Qahtani's attorney, said Secretary Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in the interrogation of al-Qahtani and spoke "weekly" with Major General Miller, commander at Guantanamo, about the status of the interrogations between late 2002 and early 2003.

The treatment of al-Qahtani was cataloged in an 84-page "torture log" that was leaked in 2006. The torture log shows that, beginning in November 2002 and continuing well into January 2003, al-Qahtani was subjected to sleep deprivation, interrogated in 20-hour stretches, poked with IVs and left to urinate on himself.

Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents al-Qahtani, had said in a sworn declaration that her client, was subjected to months of torture based on verbal and written authorizations from Rumsfeld.

"At Guantánamo, Mr. al-Qahtani was subjected to a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques, known as the 'First Special Interrogation Plan,'" Gutierrez said. "These methods included, but were not limited to, 48 days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory over-stimulation, and threats with military dogs."

In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee report said al-Qahtani's treatment was viewed as a potential model for other interrogations.

In his book, "Oath Betrayed," Dr. Steven Miles wrote that the meticulously recorded logs of al-Qahtani's interrogation and torture focus "on the emotions and interactions of the prisoner, rather than on the questions that were asked and the information that was obtained."

The uncertainty surrounding these experimental techniques resulted in the presence of medical personnel on site, and frequent and consistent medical checks of the detainee. The results of the monitoring, which likely included vital signs and other stress markers, would also become data that could be analyzed to understand how the new interrogation techniques worked.

In January 2004, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) initiated a DoD-wide review of human subjects protection policies. A Navy slide presentation at DoD Training Day on November 14, 2006, hinted strongly at the serious issues behind the entire review.

The Navy presentation framed the problem in the light of the history of US governmental "non-compliance" with human subjects research protections, including "US Government Mind Control Experiments - LSD, MKULTRA, MKDELTA (1950-1970s)"; a 90-day national "stand down" in 2003 for all human subject research and development activities "ordered in response to the death of subjects"; as well as use of "unqualified researchers."

The Training Day presentation said the review found the Navy "not in full compliance with Federal policies on human subjects protection." Furthermore, DDR&E found the Navy had "no single point of accountability for human subject protections."

DoD refused to respond to questions regarding the 2004 review. Maj. Gen. Ronald Sega, who at the time was the DDR&E, did not return calls for comment.

Ongoing Research

Meanwhile, the end of the Bush administration has not resulted in a total abandonment of the research regarding interrogation program.

Last March, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who recently resigned, disclosed that the Obama administration's High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), planned on conducting "scientific research" to determine "if there are better ways to get information from people that are consistent with our values."

"It is going to do scientific research on that long-neglected area," Blair said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. He did not provide additional details as to what the "scientific research" entailed.

As for the Wolfowitz directive, Pentagon spokeswoman Snyder said it did not open the door to human experimentation on war on terror detainees.

"There is no detainee policy, directive or instruction - or exceptions to such - that would permit performing human research testing on DoD detainees," Snyder said. "Moreover, none of the numerous investigations into allegations of misconduct by interrogators or the guard force found any evidence of such activities."

Snyder added that DoD is in the process of updating the Wolfowitz directive and it will be "completed for review next year."

Global Research Articles by Jason Leopold

Global Research Articles by Jeffrey Kaye

October 26, 2010

Watch the Ring of Fire! Merapi is erupting

Indonesia's Mount Merapi has begun to erupt, spewing searing clouds of volcanic ash and rocks into the sky, killing three people.

One of those who died on Tuesday was a baby who suffered breathing problems, while another 30 people have been injured.

Surono, the government's chief volcanologist, said the mountain, which had been rumbling for hours, started to erupt just before dusk, a day after the agency raised the alert status to the highest level.

"We heard three explosions around 06:00 pm (1100GMT) spewing volcanic materials as high as 1.5 km upward and heatclouds down on the slopes," Surono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, told the AFP news agency.

Indonesian scientists had warned of a pressure build-up beneath Mount Merapi's lava dome, as authorities evacuated tens of thousands of villagers to temporary shelters.
Rock avalanche

An avalanche of rocks spilled down Merapi's slopes before dawn on Tuesday and gusts of ash rose 50 metres into the air as the mountain continued to rumble.

Surono had said earlier that the greatest concern was pressure building behind a massive lava dome that has formed near the tip of the crater.

"The energy is building up. ... We hope it will release slowly," he said.

"Otherwise, we're looking at a potentially huge eruption, bigger than anything we've seen in years."

Temporary shelters were set up after officials designated an area 10km around the country's most active volcano a danger zone.

More than 50,000 people living in the shadows of the volcano, located north of the Javanese cultural capital, Jogjakarta, are now facing evacuation.

Widi Sutikno, a field co-ordinator in the Sleman district on the southern slopes of the 2,914-metre mountain, said about 3,700 people had already moved to makeshift camps.

"We have evacuated many women, pregnant women, sick people, elderly people and children," Sutikno said.

"We let some people return to their fields for their daily activity. But they need to go back to the camps and not their houses."
Huge panic

Step Vassen, Al Jazeera's correspondent close to Mount Merapi, said: "There was huge panic of course when the eruption was taking place.

"Two women are in hospital with severe wounds due to the hot gas clouds that came down from the mountain that can reach 600 degrees Celsius, so they are very dangerous.

"Now thousands of people are running away, they are trying to find a safer place. They are going to the refugee centres that have been set up by the government."

Vassen said that as Merapi is the most active volcano in the country residents were reluctant to leave for fear of leaving homes and livestock unattended for a false alarm.

Merapi last erupted in 2006, when it sent an avalanche of pyroclastic ash - hot gases and rock fragments - racing down the mountain which killed two people.

A similar eruption in 1994 killed 60 people, while 1,300 people died in an eruption in 1930.

There are more than 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which are spread across 17,500 islands and prone to eruptions and earthquakes due to its location within the so-called Ring of Fire.

The ring comprises a series of fault lines stretching from the western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

Parliamentary Hearings on G20

Parliamentary Hearings on G20

Not for the lighthearted, but essential to UNDERSTAND the future of North American protest.


Tomgram: Engelhardt, Placing Your Global Bets | TomDispatch

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Placing Your Global Bets | TomDispatch

Too long to post this is Tom at his snarky wittiest -- and therefore most astute.

Ghoulish on the world sitution, just in time to be read before Halloween.

October 24, 2010

Injustice in the age of Obama - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Injustice in the age of Obama - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

">Please read Cindy S's compassionate, empathetic article about this tragic tragic case:

The treatment of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is symbolic in the minds of many Muslims. Her treatment has caused more damage to US-Muslim relations (particularly in Pakistan) than any 'soft power' state department program could undo [EPA]

Since being the defendant in about six trials after I was arrested for protesting the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, it’s my experience that the police lie. Period.

However the lies don’t stop at street law enforcement level. From lies about WMD and connections to "al Qaeda," almost every institution of so-called authority - the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, FBI, all the way up to the Oval Office and back down - lie. Not white lies, but big, Mother of all BS (MOAB) lies that lead to the destruction of innocent lives. I.F Stone was most definitely on the ball when he proclaimed, "Governments lie".

Having clarified that, I would now like to examine a case that should be enshrined in the travesty of the US Justice Hall of Shame.

In February of this year, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani mother of three, was convicted in US Federal (kangaroo) Court of seven counts, including two counts of "attempted murder of an American." On September 23, Judge Berman, who displayed an open bias against Dr. Siddiqui, sentenced her to 86 years in prison.

The tapestry of lies about Dr. Siddiqui - a cognitive neuroscientist, schooled at MIT and Brandeis - was woven during the Bush regime but fully maintained during her trial and sentencing this year by the Obama (in)Justice Department.

Before 9/11/2001, Aafia lived in Massachusetts with her husband, also a Pakistani citizen, and their two children. According to all reports, she was a quietly pious Muslim (which is still not a crime here in the States), who hosted play dates for her children. She was a good student who studied hard and maintained an exemplary record, causing little harm to anything, let alone anyone.

After 9/11, when she was pregnant with her third child, she encouraged her husband to move back to Pakistan to avoid the backlash against her Muslim children - which was a very prescient thing to do considering the Islamophobia that has only increased in this country since then.

Tortured 'truth'

Following the move to Pakistan, Dr. Siddiqui and her husband divorced. Her life took a horrendous turn justly after. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) - supposed mastermind of the 9/11 plot - was being water-boarded by the CIA 183 times in one month, he gave Dr. Siddiqui up as a member of al-Qaeda. Was this a case of stolen identity, or was Mohammed just saying random words like you or I would to stop the torture?

There is some disputed "intelligence" that Aafia had married KSM’s nephew, a tenuous allegation at best, and even so, guilt by association has no place in the hallowed US legal system.

Following KSM’s torture-induced 'insights', Dr. Siddiqui was listed by Bush’s Justice Department as one of the seven most dangerous al-Qaeda operatives in the world. A mother of three equipped with a lethal ability to 'thin-slice' your cognitive personality in seconds. If alleged association and a healthy interest in neuro-psychology are the definitive hallmarks of a 'terrorist operative,' then Malcolm Gladwell better start making some phone calls to Crane, Poole and Schmidt.

A culture of falsehoods

Face it, we all know that since 9/11, there have been numerous false "terror" alerts and lies leading to the capture and torture of hundreds of innocent individuals - and the heinous treatment we have all witnessed to from Abu Ghraib. Additionally, we are supposed to believe that multi-war criminal, Colin Powell, was "fooled" by faulty intelligence so much so that he paved the way for the invasion of Iraq by his false testimony at the UN but we are also supposed to unquestioningly believe the US intelligence apparatus when they lie about others such as Dr. Siddiqui.

In any case, in a bizarre scenario - to make a very long story short - Dr. Siddiqui and her three children disappeared for five years from 2003 to 2008, resurfacing in Ghazni, Afghanistan with her oldest child, a son who was then 11. She claimed that for the years she was missing, she was being held in various Pakistani and US prisons being tortured and repeatedly raped. Many prisoners, including Yvonne Ridley, maintain she was incarcerated in Bagram AFB and tortured for at least part of the five missing years.

After Dr. Siddiqui resurfaced, she was arrested and taken to an Afghan police station where four Americans - two military and two FBI agents - rushed to "question" her through interpreters. The FBI and military, claim that they were taken to a room that had a curtain at one end and that they did not know that Dr. Siddiqui was lying asleep on a bed at the other side of the curtain. As you read below it will become blatantly obvious that personnel involved from both institutions totally fabricated their stories.

This is the Americans' version: They entered the room and one of the military dudes said he laid his weapon down (remember, they were there to interrogate one of the top most dangerous people in the world), and Siddiqui got up, grabbed the weapon, yelling obscenities and that she wanted to "kill Americans." All 5'3" of her raised the weapon to fire and she fired the rifle twice, missing everyone in the small room - in fact she even missed the walls, floor and ceiling since no bullets from the rifle were ever recovered.

Then one of the Americans shot her twice in the stomach "in self-defence." It was shown at the trial that her fingerprints were not even on the weapon. The only bullets that were found that day were in Dr. Aafia's body. How many stories of military cover-ups have we heard about since 9/11? I can think of two right away without even trying hard: Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.

Hopeless injustice

Dr. Aafia's side is this: After she was arrested, she was again beaten and she fell asleep on a bed when she heard talking in the room she was in so she got out of the bed and someone shouted: "Oh no, she’s loose!" Then she was shot - when she was wavering in and out of consciousness, she heard someone else say: "We could lose our jobs over this."

Even with no evidence that she fired any weapon, she was convicted (the jury found no pre-meditation) by a jury and sentenced to the aforementioned 86 years. It's interesting that the Feds did not pursue "terrorist" charges against Dr. Siddiqui because they were aware that the only evidence that existed was tortured out of KSM - so they literally ganged up on her to press the assault and attempted murder charges.

Even if Dr. Siddiqui did shoot at the Americans, reflect on this. Say this case was being tried in Pakistan under similar circumstances for an American woman named Dr. Betty Brown who was captured and repeatedly tortured and raped by the ISI - here in the states that woman would be a hero if she shot at her captors - not demonized and taken away from her life and her children.

I believe Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a political prisoner and now the political bogey-woman for two US regimes.

In Pakistan, the response to her verdict and sentencing brought the predictable mass protests, burning of American flags and effigies of Obama and calls for Pakistan to repatriate Dr. Siddiqui. They know who the real criminals are and who should be in prison for life! At present, Hilary's state department harps on about 'soft power' and diplomacy, but what better way to quell US distrust in the Muslim world than to try such cases with due diligence and integrity.

In the US, not many people know about this case. Obviously many people were Hope-notized by the millions of dollars poured into the Obama PR machine - and believed when he said that his administration would be more transparent and lawful than the outlaws of the Bush era.

I guess they were mistaken.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights. She has published five books, has her own Internet radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cindy lives in Oakland, CA, and loves to spend time with her three grand-babies. You can learn more about Cindy at Peace of the Action.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

October 23, 2010

JURIST - Paper Chase: UN investigator calls for inquiry into Iraq rights abuses

Daniel Makosky at 11:44 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official website] called fSaturday or the Obama administration to launch an inquiry into the role of US in human rights violations allegedly committed in Iraq [JURIST report] Nowak's comments follow the release of government information on WikiLeaks [website] that included thousands of previously classified documents. Many of the documents purportedly illustrate instances of abuse, torture and murder carried out by US and Iraqi forces. He stated that the US is party to UN human rights treaties that compel the investigation of such allegations and the criminalization of any form of torture. He also claimed that the incidents documented in the release may constitute violations [Guardian report] of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [texts and materials]. In addition to abuses allegedly committed by coalition forces, Nowak stressed that the US must investigate instances where transferring detainees into the custody of other countries exposed them to an increased risk of facing torture [JURIST news archive]. Absent a full investigation, Nowak claims that the US would be in breach of its international obligations.

Last month, Nowak's predecessor called for a similar investigation regarding an additional WikiLeaks release [JURIST reports]. The request involved war crimes allegedly committed by Taliban [CFR backgrounder], US and British forces in Afghanistan. Unlike the US, Afghanistan is a party to the Rome Statute [text, PDF], giving the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Afghan territory. Earlier this week Chairperson of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) [official website] Claudio Grossman [official profile] urged nations to "reconnect with the values" of the Convention Against Torture and increase efforts to combat torture [JURIST report]. Grossman stated that the need for heightened measures is particularly important in emergency situations where interrogators have little time to gain information from captives. The UN claimed that reports of rights abuse were found worldwide and that countries have grown increasingly apathetic to the use of torture as an interrogation technique.

    GOP Plan Dramatically Reduces Social Security Benefits, Actuary Finds       :      Information Clearing House: ICH

GOP Plan Dramatically Reduces Social Security Benefits, Actuary Finds : Information Clearing House: ICH

By Sahil Kapur

October 22, 2010 "
Raw Story" - - A high-profile Republican budget plan would slash Social Security benefits in the long-run -- perhaps even by up to half of what they are now, the program's actuary concluded in a new study.

The Chief Actuary of Social Security analyzed a proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP's ranking member on the budget committee, who could become its chairman in January, and found that new entrants in the US workforce could see massive decreases in their payouts upon retirement.

It was unveiled Wednesday by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, less than two weeks before an election in which Democrats have elevated Social Security into a major campaign issue.

"The new analysis reveals that these proposals result in benefits cuts ranging from ten percent to as high as 50 percent," Pomeroy said in a statement. "As I talk to seniors today about stretching their Social Security benefits with no cost of living adjustment in sight, they would not agree with describing cuts of this magnitude as 'modest'."

The Ryan "Roadmap for America's Future," the plan that was analyzed, has 13 co-sponsors (all Republicans). GOP leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) have declined to fully endorse it but haven't disavowed it, either.

A high-profile Republican budget plan would slash Social Security benefits in the long-run -- perhaps even by up to half of what they are now, the program's actuary concluded in a new study.

The Chief Actuary of Social Security analyzed a proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP's ranking member on the budget committee, who could become its chairman in January, and found that new entrants in the US workforce could see massive decreases in their payouts upon retirement.

It was unveiled Wednesday by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, less than two weeks before an election in which Democrats have elevated Social Security into a major campaign issue.

"The new analysis reveals that these proposals result in benefits cuts ranging from ten percent to as high as 50 percent," Pomeroy said in a statement. "As I talk to seniors today about stretching their Social Security benefits with no cost of living adjustment in sight, they would not agree with describing cuts of this magnitude as 'modest'."

The Ryan "Roadmap for America's Future," the plan that was analyzed, has 13 co-sponsors (all Republicans). GOP leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) have declined to fully endorse it but haven't disavowed it, either.

October 22, 2010

Ok, where IS our outrage ??? After BP did the dirty deed(s)

6 Months Since BP Oil Spill, Writer and Environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams Asks "Where Is Our Outrage?"

From Democracy Now:

Six months ago, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and triggering the worst oil spill disaster in US history. More than 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf, polluting coastlines in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. To mark the six-month anniversary, we speak to acclaimed writer and environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams, who spent two weeks traveling the Gulf Coast this summerTempest-williams.

Here is the rush transcript, the link will take you to the video ...

JUAN GONZALEZ: Six months ago, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and triggering the worst oil spill disaster in US history. The explosion leaked over 200 million gallons of oil, which is nearly five million barrels of oil, into the Gulf of Mexico and fouled coastlines in Louisiana, Missis

sippi, Alabama and Florida.

With the Macondo oil well now sealed, the spill is no longer in the headlines, and last week Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Gulf was once again, quote, "open for business." But much of the oil that gushed out of the blown-out well remains dispersed deep under the sea, and scientists are still unclear about the long-term effects of both the oil and the chemical dispersant on marine ecosystems.

AMY GOODMAN: Six months since the spill, lawmakers have been slow to take action and the House’s spill response bill remains stalled in the Senate. On Wednesday, three environmental groups sued BP, accusing the British oil giant of violating the Endangered Species Act. The suit, brought by Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network and the Save the Manatee Club, notes that at least twenty-seven endangered or threatened animal species live in the Gulf region, including five species of endangered sea turtles and fou

r species of endangered whales.

In a moment, we’ll be speaking with the acclaimed writer and environmentalist Terry Tempest Wiliams, who spent two weeks traveling the Gulf Coast this summer. She has written an extended piece about the stories she heard on her visit to what she calls the world’s largest offshore oil disaster. Her piece is called "The Gulf B

etween Us," and it was published in the November/December issue of Orion magazine. She is the author of several books, including most recently Finding Beauty in a Broken World and The Open Space of Democracy. She’ll be joining us from Salt Lake City, Utah, after this break.


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Terry Tempest Williams, writer, environmentalist. Her books include Finding Beauty in a Broken World and The Open Space of Democracy. Her latest piece in Orion magazine, an extended reflection on the BP oil spill, called "The Gulf Between Us."

Terry Tempest Williams, welcome to Democracy N

ow! from Salt Lake City. You went to the Gulf on this six-month anniversary. What are your reflections about what happened April 20th? I’ll never forget it because it was Earth Day.

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: That’s right. I think it changed all of us, who were paying attention. And, Amy, I just want to thank you for your program, first of all, that we can even have this conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you.

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: Reflections. It’s—yeah, you know, we hear that five million barrels of oil were released from the Macondo well. We know that [ 362] miles were oiled in four states, 400 species of animals threatened from this, 400 controlled burns that killed hundreds of sea turtles and untold numbers of dolphins and sea mammals. We’re told that it’s over, that the story is gone, as is the oil. And what I can tell you in reflecting over six months is that the oil is not gone. The people are still there, and they’re getting sicker and sicker.

And I just think it’s really important that, at this anniversary of six months, that we begin to really hear from the people on the ground. And that’s what my purpose was. You know, I have a pen. I’m a writer. I was home in Utah thinking, you know, what can I do? And I had to go. I had to see it for myself. So it was about ground truthing. It was about bearing witness. And I don’t think bearing witness is a passive act.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Terry Tempest Williams, this is an extraordinary piece, as you talk about and you relate basically the words of a variety of people on the ground. And I was struck by one particular passage, when you were interviewing a Margaret Curole, and she says to you, "Here’s the truth. Where are the animals? There’s no too-da-loos, the little one-armed fiddler crabs. Ya don’t hear birds. From Amelia to Alabama, Kevin never saw a fish jump, never heard a bird sing. This is their nestin’ season. Those babies, they’re not goin’ nowhere. We had a very small pod of sperm whales in the Gulf, nobody’s seen ‘em. Guys on the water say they died in the spill and their bodies were hacked up and taken away." And she goes on to say, "Fish are swimming in circles. Dolphins are choking on the surface. It’s ugly, I’m tellin’ you. And nobody’s talkin’ about it. You’re not hearing nothin’ about it. As far as the media is reportin’, everythin’s being cleaned up and it’s not a problem." Tell us about some of these—

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: That’s the power of Margaret Curole.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. What about some of the other stories?

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: You know, what I love about the voices in this piece, the voices in the Gulf that I heard, the people in place, standing up, standing for their home ground, was exactly that kind of passion, that kind of truth telling.

Margaret Curole and her husband Kevin are Cajun. They’re shrimpers. And they talked about how there’s two alternatives in the Gulf: you either shrimp or you work in the oil fields. And, you know, I learned something from them. I have been against, you know, deepwater drilling, and they were talking about the moratorium, how it needs to be lifted so that people can eat. So, it was through Margaret that I really began to see the complexity of this situation.

I love her feistiness. She, with an artist friend, created on the beach at Grand Isle human bodies that spelled out messages, which they took pictures of and texted to Congress, to the governor, to BP executives, to everyone in power they could think of. The three messages laid out in bodies were "Never again," "Paradise lost" and "WTF." What I can tell you about Margaret is that she received calls from the BP claims department saying to back off. She was taken to lunch by two agents from Homeland Security. And this is serious. And she said, "They want me to shut up, and I will not."

Another story, she told us if we wanted great Cajun food—and that we couldn’t understand this story unless we ate—to go to Becky Duet’s deli in Galliano, which is where they’re from in southern Louisiana. We went to Becky Duet’s deli, called Jordan’s, named after her son. It was 10:00 at night. The lights were still on. We walked in. She said, "The grill is closed." And then she proceeded to tell stories, that in Cajun country they’ve always viewed themselves as rich, that the bounty is from the waters, that as long as you had rice, beans and bread and had a chicken neck that you could throw into the bayou, you were wealthy. Just a few weeks ago, I received a note from Becky, who’s become a good friend. She said, "We’re starving, Terry. There are no fish in the waters. And any fish we would see, we would not eat."

These are the stories that are coming out of the Gulf. These are the stories that we’re not hearing from the media. I think about a group of women in gated communities in Alabama, just off of Mobile Bay, Orange Beach. These women took the situation into their own hands, because no one was responding. They had water samples taken, four, from very wealthy areas. The fourth one on Dauphin Island blew up and was deemed inconclusive. These women—Robin Young, a captain, Lori DeAngelis and her husband Mike—their blood tests came back high in cadmium and benzene. They’ve had chemically induced pneumonia. These are the stories, again, that we’re not hearing.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Terry Tempest Williams, writer and environmentalist. Her latest piece is in Orion magazine, called "The Gulf Between Us: Stories of Terror and Beauty from the World’s Largest Accidental Offshore Oil Disaster." Terry, tell us about Jerry Cope and Fish Camp Landing, the gated community in Orange Beach, Alabama.

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: Yeah, those were the women I was referring to. I met Jerry in March of 2009 at the climate action in Washington, DC. I call him a guerrilla journalist. While I was down there, he was there also with Charles Hambleton, one of the producers and members of the crew that you see in the film The Cove. They had heard about the bodies of dolphins being taken to dumps, refrigerated to Mexico. They wanted to do an investigative witnessing, if these stories were true. Jerry, in the three weeks that he was out on the Gulf, he also came down with chemical-induced pneumonia, ended up meeting these activists, these women in the gated community, and Robin Young among them, who started this organization called Guardians of the Gulf. It was there that he really saw on the ground, as did I, you know, what the situation is. These women were calling, as I said, for water samples, air samples, blood tests, to really show the seriousness of the public health issues. And again, these are the stories that we’re not hearing—upper respiratory disease, lots of skin infection, rashes.

When I was there, they were having to drain the swimming pools, because children were being sick. And, Amy, it just—it made you sick. You’d go down to Gulf Shores, and here were these seemingly pristine beaches, this Corexit green, this ungodly color, women, mothers, you know, overburdened, 110-degree heat. Their children were playing in the waves. It was like there was no connection between what was in the water and what was seeping into their children’s skin. I mean, the stories are heartbreaking.

We walked down the beach several miles to the Gulf Island National Seashore, again what seemed to be white pristine beaches. There had just been a thunderstorm. It was this eerie color of the water again. You half-expected the water to burst into flames with lightning strikes. Just then, a BP bus pulled up. Thirty workers, some of them in hazmat suits. We started talking to them, saying, "Well, it doesn’t look like there’s oil here." Two of the workers, African American men in their twenties, smiled and said, "Can we tell you that we just took out 2,000 pounds last night? We work from dusk to dawn under the cover of darkness."

JUAN GONZALEZ: You also talk about what’s—

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: That’s a ton of oil—I was just going to say that was a ton of oil taken out in a 100-yard swatch. Again, these are the stories we’re not hearing. I just talked to Robin yesterday, and she was saying that five minutes she had tar balls the size of baseballs. And, you know, you go down a foot, and that’s where the oil still remains.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You also talk about those workers and the boat captains that are still working for BP and some of the illnesses that they’re being exposed to, and also that their clothes are being confiscated while at same time BP is telling them that they probably just have dermatitis?

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: That’s right. The doctors don’t even know how to treat these diseases that are coming forward. Mike DeAngelis, married to Lori, both of them are captains. Lori runs a dolphin education cruise. She hasn’t been able to go out, because their boats have been registered for Vessels of Opportunity, because they needed the money, quite frankly. You know, these are people that are working-class people. Mike, as a captain, when they registered their boat, was getting paid $1,200 a day, $200 for extra crew members. And what were they doing? Nothing. There was a joke around the Gulf that you’re on BP time: being paid for doing nothing.

One of the most moving stories was really flying with a barefoot pilot named Tom Hutchings. In the American Southwest, we would call him a coyote. Again, an activist, he was taking people, as a volunteer for SouthWings, anyone who would go with him, to fly over the Macondo well site. We went with him on Day 100. Upper right-hand corner of the New York Times, you know, remember the article that said most of the oil is gone, 80 percent. You remember a week later, Carole Browner of the Obama administration said 75 percent gone, poof, Mother Nature is doing her job. What I can tell you is that as we flew out to the Gulf to what they call "the source" to see the Deepwater Horizon rigs, for as far as we could see, for as wide as we could see, for as long as we could bear it, oil. All we could see was oil. I mean, it’s just—I wonder, where is our outrage? And I was saying to Tom, this brilliant pilot, you know, that must have made twenty, thirty, forty flights at his own expense, "Why isn’t this story being told?" And he was saying that most of what we’ve heard has been shore-based knowledge. I mean, there were rivers of oil as wide as the Mississippi itself. Stunning. When I asked him what has stayed in his mind most in terms of his witnessing, he said that when they were burning the oil off the surface of the sea, he remembers on the edge of the flames seeing a pod of dolphins, side by side by side by side, watching, simply watching the ocean burn.

I think the other untold story are the dispersants. We know, thanks to Congressman Markey from Massachusetts, that after the EPA said, "Please, please," to BP, "find another dispersant that is less toxic," what we know now is that our Coast Guard, the United States Coast Guard, gave BP seventy-four exceptions in forty-eight days. And that’s the untold story. And I think that’s where so much of this illness is rising from. And we hear from the scientists, two inches of oil on the bottom of the sea. The scientist Samantha Joye said it’s a "graveyard for the macrofauna" and that the Gulf is dying from the bottom up. And again, that’s what I wanted to see, is what are the stories from the ground up, from the people who live there? Again, witness is not a passive act.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And as you mention, this is not just a regional catastrophe, but this fall a billion birds will migrate from, of course, North America through the Gulf of Mexico and the area, and the impact could then obviously spread for the bird population throughout the hemisphere.

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: That’s correct. And as we speak, as you say, a billion birds migrating through the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi Delta sees 70 percent of our waterfowl. You know, I think that’s the other untold story that touched me so deeply, was the beauty. It’s still there, against all odds. The Gulf is still there. And you fly over and see these beautiful islands, these islands beaded with birds, pelicans, skimmers—the feathered skimmers, not the boats—piping plovers, who are endangered. You know, we’d fly over and see, you know, these extraordinary manta rays, twenty-five-foot wing span, 3,000 pounds, looking like black angels on the turquoise water. It’s such an extraordinary landscape. I had no idea. And I think what’s interesting—and I do have faith in Obama’s commission, that’s saying, let’s look not at the protection of putting more levees, more canals, that cut up the system, the ecosystem, but let’s think about, really, restoration, even a full restoration project of the Mississippi Delta, the Mississippi River itself. And that’s where I see the hope.

AMY GOODMAN: Terry Tempest Williams, we want to thank you very much for being with us, writer, environmentalist. Her books include Finding Beauty in a Broken World and The Open Space of Democracy. Her latest piece was just published in Orion magazine on the six-month anniversary of the Gulf oil spill. It’s called "The Gulf Between Us." She was speaking to us from Salt Lake City, Utah.

G20 update

G20 update courtesy Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 56, October 20, 2010.
Located at http://www.tpac.ca/

a) Class action law suit.
A class action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of Miranda McQuade and Mike Barber, representing 1150 persons whose rights were violated by the police during the G20 Summit in Toronto. The Statement of Claim was filed on September 2, 2010.

Those represented are the following:
All persons arrested or detained on June 26 or 27, 2010, in relation to the G20 by the police in downtown Toronto, including those charged with a criminal offence; and
All persons held at the detention centre on Eastern Avenue, in the City of Toronto, between June 25 and June 30, 2010, in relation to the G20.

The law suit will not be representing the business owners whose property was vandalized during the G20.

More information is available at www.g20defence.ca . Class members and witnesses can submit a form on that website or contact David Midanik, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, at dmm@g20defence.ca.

b) Police activity continues
The police continue to be active in G20 follow-up, and as videos are reviewed, more individuals are being arrested. It is unclear how many officers are assigned to these tasks from the Toronto force.

As more charges are being laid, more are being abandoned. One will remember the students from Quebec who came to Toronto to be part of the ant-G20 demonstrations. While sleeping on the floor of a University of Toronto building, they were woken by a police raid. About 110 students were arrested and taken to the Eastern Street detention centre where they were strip-searched, charge with conspiracy, and then kept for 36 - 48 hours before being given bail and released. They were required to return to Toronto three times for procedural matters before the court, On October 13 - three and one half months after being charged - the students were told that all charges would be dropped.

This seems similar to strategies used in other parts of the world against students - threaten them with the humiliation of strip-searches and jail, then leave them dangling for a while before announcing that there were no grounds for arresting them in the first place. The might be contrary to the Charter or Rights and Freedom, but once the police have used these tactics in Canada and emerged without consequence, other police might decide this is the way to behave.

Calgary police were part of the operation, and according to a story in the Calgary Herald, on June 28, officers there thought they learned a lot. `About 160 Calgary police officers say working the front lines of the G20 summit in Toronto gave them invaluable experience in crowd control,' reads the news story.

`"We were in Queen's Park (the Ontario legislature), and there's thousands and
thousands of demonstrators," said Calgary police Sgt. Peter Pecksen as he
arrived at the Calgary airport on Monday afternoon. "There's no comparison. We
just don't get crowds like that here."

`The officers, who are from the Calgary police public safety unit, said the
Toronto event was a chance for them to practice their crowd-control training.
"We just never have had to use those tactics to that degree in Calgary. It was a
fantastic opportunity for us to test them out and show that, yeah, they really do
work," said Pecksen.

`Calgary police Const. Stephan Van Tassell said everyone he worked with stayed
calm and focused on security. " We have good leaders, good management," he said. '

One worries whether the police procedures in Toronto - kettling, mass arrests, incarceration, strip search and then release after a day or two without laying charges - will be taken up be other police forces as the Calgary officers seem to suggest is occurring.

c) Reviewing police actions

The Toronto Police Service Board has appointed Justice John Morden, a former member of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and author of a book on civil rights in Canada, to review the role of Toronto police in the G20. The terms of reference are fairly board, including specific reference to the kettling (police surrounding several hundred people) at Queen and Spadina on Sunday evening for several hours in a torrential downpour, as well as events outside of the Eastern Avenue detention centre. The terms of reference and the intentions of this review can be found at www.g20review.ca .

But this is a limited review, and it is not an inquiry with the power to call evidence under oath. As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association notes on its web site (www.ccla.org).
"While this Review will make an important contribution to post-G20 police accountability, because of the Toronto Police Services Board's narrow jurisdiction, it will be limited to examining the actions of Toronto police and will not be well-positioned to consider the role of other police and security personnel, including the RCMP and CSIS, and federal and provincial decision makers."

Meanwhile, Ontario's police complaints mechanism, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is currently finalizing the Terms of Reference for a review of police actions, and the Office stated on October 18 that these Terms will be publicly available when they are completed. The Office has received 320 complaints regarding police behaviour during the G20 - obviously a large number - and appointed OIPRD investigators have begun conducting the investigations for the review. The Office states the "review will investigate common issues in relation to complaints against police during the G20 summit."

Some question whether the OIPRD has a large enough legislative jurisdiction to probe many aspects of G20 security.

A broad federal inquiry - the one inquiry that could determine how things unfolded as they did - seems increasingly unlikely to be called.

d) Police records from the G20.

From the Canadian Civil Liberties Association web site:

"The CCLA is also increasingly concerned that police records generated about the many G20 arrestees who were never charged or whose charges have since been dropped may expose these people to long-lasting negative repercussions. To address this concern, the CCLA recently wrote to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair asking him to expunge the police records of all G20 arrestees who were never charged or have since had their charges withdrawn or dismissed.

"The CCLA is particularly concerned that information about G20-related police contact may surface during police background checks that are regularly requested by some employers and volunteer agencies and unduly prejudice people who have done nothing wrong. In the context of the G20 Summit, more than 1100 people were arrested - including five of the CCLA's independent monitors - and over 800 of them were never charged with an offence. Of the close to 300 people that were charged, at least 58 have since had their charges withdrawn." [Since then, charges have been withdrawn against the 110 Quebec students.]

e) Speaking out politically

Alex Hundert was arrested pre-emptively, in the middle of the night, as a member of the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance on June 26, before any demonstrations began, and charged with conspiracy and counseling.

He was released on bail, one term of which was that he could not participate in any public demonstration. Then, on September 17, he was part of a panel discussion at Ryerson University - a boring and unlively event, according to one participant - but the police deemed that it was a `public demonstration', and he was jailed for breaching the terms of bail. Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke has now clarified the terms of bail: Hundert cannot attend any public event that expresses views on a political issue, or expresses his views to the media.

The new terms have been called `astonishing,' `staggering in their breadth,' and `aimed at silencing speech.' An appeal is underway.

October 21, 2010

A Lifetime of "You're On Your Own"


A Lifetime of "You're On Your Own"

More than seventy years ago, the Supreme Court abandoned a brief, disastrous experiment with "tentherism," a constitutional theory that early twentieth century justices wielded to protect monopolies, strip workers of their right to organize and knock down child labor laws. This discredited constitutional theory is back -- with a vengeance -- endangering Medicare, Social Security, the minimum wage and even the national highway system and America's membership in the United Nations. For the first time in three generations, the right is fielding a slate of candidates convinced that any attempt to better the lives of ordinary Americans violates the Constitution -- while a number of sitting lawmakers such as Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL) are already actively pushing tentherism from within the Congress. Make no mistake, this agenda threatens all Americans, from the youngest schoolchild to the most venerable retirees.

SLAMMING SCHOOLHOUSE DOORS: Tentherism's core tenet is that the 10th Amendment must be read too narrowly to permit much of the progress of the last century. Thus, for example, because the Constitution doesn't actually use the word "education" -- it instead gives Congress broad authority to spend money to advance the "common defense" and "general welfare" -- Senate candidates like Ken Buck (R-CO) and Sharron Angle (R-NV) claim that the federal Department of Education is unconstitutional. That means no federal student loan assistance or Pell Grants for middle class students struggling to pay for college, and no education funds providing opportunities to students desperately trying to break into the middle class. And that's hardly the worst news tenthers have in store for young Americans. Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller wants to declare child labor laws unconstitutional -- returning America to the day when ten-year-olds labored in coal mines.

THANKLESS LABOR: Tenther candidates have even worse plans for working age Americans. Miller and West Virginia GOP Senate candidate John Raese both claim that the federal minimum wage is unconstitutional -- a position the Supreme Court unanimously rejected in 1941. If you're a person of color or a woman or a person of faith than you are also out of luck, because Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul agrees with Justice Clarence Thomas that the ban on employment and pay discrimination is unconstitutional (don't try to get a meal on your lunch break either, because both men feel the same way about the ban on whites-only lunch counters). Significantly, the constitutional doctrine which supports the minimum wage is the same one which supports child labor laws and bans on discrimination, so when a candidate comes out in opposition to any one of these laws, it is likely that they oppose all of them. To top this all off, Alaska's Miller even claims that unemployment benefits violate the Constitution, so Americans who are unable to find work in the new tenther regime will simply be cast out into the cold.

AN IMPOVERISHED RETIREMENT: Social Security may be the most successful program in American history. Without it, nearly half of all seniors would live below the poverty line. Yet, because words like "retirement" don't specifically appear in the Constitution, tenthers think that Social Security is forbidden. Indeed, Social Security has not just been labeled unconstitutional by specific GOP candidates, the Republican Party's "Pledge To America" embraces a tenther understanding of the Constitution which endangers both Social Security and Medicare. Tenthers respond to claims that they would abolish America's entire safety net for seniors by pointing out that state governments could still create their own retirement programs, but such a state takeover of retirement programs is economically impossible unless America forbids its citizens from retiring in a different state than the one that they paid taxes in while working. Some tenther candidates have also suggested that Social Security can survive so long as it is privatized, but privatization would impose significant new risks on seniors, create new administrative costs, force benefit reductions and cost more money than the present system. In other words, the right has a simple plan for American families: making sure that everyone at the dinner table is completely on their own.

Current bugaboo - and it does affect me - is the potential to have Social Security GUTTED. Let us NOT return to the Stone Age!!

So I will post more than a few links and comments about this in upcoming days.

The Center for American Progress is doing a fabulous job explaining how this REGRESSIVE action is propelled by a right wing agenda - and also on the implications of a repel of our RIGHT to benefits.

Please, please access the link to get the full (horror) story.

All the important links one should/must read here.

Stating the obvious about ABUSE and its repercussions

ACG: GI Docs Should Ask About Abuse

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: October 20, 2010

SAN ANTONIO -- Gastroenterologists may want to be attuned to signs of possible abuse or trauma among their patients, a researcher suggested here.

Subtle signs -- a rectal exam that provokes tearfulness in a patient, for instance -- may indicate psychological issues that could complicate treatment for GI problems, said Douglas Drossman, MD, of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Drossman has been studying the link between abuse and GI disease for the last 20 years and summarized his work at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Delivering the American Journal of Gastroenterology lecture at the meeting, Drossman also offered advice on how fellow clinicians can address the issue of prior abuse and trauma to get patients the help they need to improve outcomes.

"Being a gastroenterologist, it's not our responsibility to ask about abuse history in someone coming in with GERD, a GI bleed, or liver disease," he commented. "We're asking about it when we think that information would make a meaningful difference in outcome by identifying and treating it."

Researchers have long known of an association between stress and gastrointestinal symptoms, but have only recently begun to understand the mechanisms at work between stressful life events like abuse or trauma and more serious GI problems.

Drossman said the first line of evidence linking the two came from epidemiologic studies that found a higher-than-expected association of abuse history in patients with GI symptoms.

Other epidemiological data have found an association between a history of abuse and poor health status in general, and that patients with prior trauma had more pain and a higher number of doctor visits.

Over the past 10 years, researchers have been able to get a more profound understanding of this association with the help of brain imaging, Drossman said.

He and his colleagues have been able to show that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients who had a history of abuse had greater activation of the cingulate cortex, an area associated with pain processing. These IBS patients indeed reported greater pain, Drossman said.

Other data from an Institute of Medicine report on Gulf War veterans also found an association between war trauma and the development of IBS, he added. "IBS may be facilitated by psychological stress," he commented.

The question, Drossman said, is how to translate knowledge of this link into clinical practice -- acknowledging that asking patients about past abuse and trauma is not easy.

However, he has identified factors that may reveal abuse, making it easier for clinicians to broach the subject.

One clue, he said, may be a GI patient who presents with trust issues or feelings of vulnerability, shame, or loss of control during a visit.

"Those kinds of feelings, the more you see of them, the more you think about it," he said, referring to a potential history or abuse.

Other hints of past abuse or trauma may manifest themselves in physical problems, including chronic abdominal pain, morbid obesity, or eating disorders.

Patients troubled by past traumas may also have a record of multiple procedures and hospitalizations for their symptoms, he added.

But one of the biggest clues to past abuse may come from patient reactions to procedures like rectal exams or colonoscopy.

"If we see an unusual response like tearfulness or agitation, we really should think about the link," he said.

He cautioned that the greatest problem is figuring out how to break the ice and ask the tough questions.

"It's easy to do that if you're doing a colonoscopy and the patient has an emotional and dramatic response," he said. "Then it's easy to say, 'I see you don't feel comfortable, has something like this happened before?'"

Physicians can emphasize that evidence has shown that these issues can affect the way they manage their conditions.

"It's about being gentle, and giving them the opportunity to tell you what they want to tell you," he said. "If they don't want to talk, you can register that information and say, 'If you want to talk about it, I'll be available.'"

Physicians should have a psychiatrist colleague for patient referrals.

Walter Coyle, MD, of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., said many gastroenterologists aren't doing a good job of asking about past abuse and trauma.

"If you do, you have to deal with the consequences of opening that door," he said. "It's not easy to ask, but I think you've got to, because there is so much abuse out there."

Yes, the blog resumes . . .

And really that is about it.

FACEBOOK doesn't cut it and this unwieldy TOME needs editing.

Due to Web Marshall being turned on where I was writing, I could not access these pages for the past YEAR. However, as of yesterday when I was at long last able to side pass that oppressor and get some good new posting tools installed, my enthusiasm cup runneth over.