Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remembering the Horrible Things America Did to Cuba Over the Past 6 Decades

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)

AlterNet [1] / By Emma Levine-Nevel [2]

Remembering the Horrible Things America Did to Cuba Over the Past 6 Decades

December 18, 2014 |

This is a big time for celebration in Cuba. Three of the five men known in Cuba as heroes fighting United States terrorism were released from prison and returned to their families. To understand the true significance of their release means exploring the history of U.S.-backed terrorism against Cuba, a history widely unknown within the United States. President Obama and mainstream media have not only failed to mention this history, but have perpetuated the narrative of the Cuban five as spies, a necessary narrative for undermining the five men’s work in combatting U.S.-sponsored terrorism both in Cuba and within the U.S. This narrative frames Cuba as responsible for the 50-plus years of failed relations between the island and the U.S., serving to justify the United States’ aggressive and inhumane policies against Cuba (e.g. the economic blockade).

After a 1998 arrest during which no weapons or plans against the U.S. were found, the FBI told the five men—Gerardo Hernández, Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, René González Sehwerert, Fernando González Llort and Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez—that if they admitted to “conspiring” against the U.S., they would receive less harsh prison sentences. The men refused, and as a result were placed in solitary confinement for 17 months. They then faced a trial in Miami, the most anti-Castro city in the U.S., which was accompanied by a government-orchestrated media campaign that sought to portray the Cuban five as terrorists and spies. Conviction was a foregone conclusion.

To understand the Cuban five’s mission means looking at the history of U.S. government and CIA plots to destroy, subvert and overthrow the revolutionary Cuban government. U.S. business interests suffered great economic losses in the wake of a revolution that nationalized banks and limited the acre-size of farms. Prior to the revolution, U.S. business owned 80% of services, 40% of the sugar industry and 50% of railroad transport in Cuba. Cuba was an American neo-colony. The revolutionary government undertook measures to increase the quality of life and salaries for the majority of Cubans after a brutal Batista dictatorship (backed by the U.S.) that left poor people and people of color without jobs and a means of survival. Starting with the signing of the Agrarian Reform Act of 1959, the U.S. government decided that the Cuban government had to be replaced. The motive was to prevent these revolutionary ideas from spreading to other Latin American countries where U.S. business interests could not afford to be threatened.

After the humiliating defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion, known in Cuba as the first imperialist defeat in the Americas, President Kennedy increased attacks against Cuba. Prior to Bay of Pigs, the CIA led the attacks; now they were to be integrated into U.S. policy. On Nov. 3, 1961 Kennedy approved Operation Mongoose led by General Edward Landsdale. Lansdale openly declared that the objective of Mongoose was to impede the ability of the Cuban government to provide for its people, and thus to encourage the Cuban people to resent their government.

There is a long list of U.S. state-sponsored and CIA-led terrorism against Cuba. Some of the most notable attacks include:

• In 1961 the CIA opens a new station in Miami. With $50 million a year funding, 300 American officials oversee thousands of Cuban exiles working toward subverting the Cuban government through propaganda.

• In 1976, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, two Cuban exiles, bomb a civilian aircraft. The explosion kills all 73 people on the plane, including the entire teenage Cuban national fencing team. The men worked for CORU, a Cuban-exile organization trained by, and given weapons and explosives by the CIA. Posada continues to work on attacks both within Cuba and the U.S. The U.S. refuses to extradite either of the men, and Luis Posada Carriles continues to live in Miami to this day.

• 1981: A Cuban-exile group under CIA leadership introduces Type II dengue into Cuba. Since then, the potentially fatal illness has affected more than 344,000 people. In 1984 a member of Omega 7, another exile group under CIA leadership, says the intention was to sicken as many people as possible.

• Between 1959 and 2001 there were 634 documented attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

• In 1997, CIA-funded Cuban exile groups bomb several Havana hotels in an effort to disrupt Cuba’s growing tourist industry.
The propaganda within the U.S. must be seen in the context of this terrorism. Continuing to call the Cuban five “spies,” failing to acknowledge the history of U.S. terrorism against Cuba and continuing to frame Cuba as a communist dictatorship serves to perpetuate a false narrative rooted in imperialist ideology.

Since the day the revolution triumphed in 1959, Cuba has had to be on the defensive against the richest, most powerful country in the world. Cuba is an anti-imperialist nation at its core, and will not give up its values and identity, despite all the propaganda, U.S. attacks and demands for “good relations.” Cuba’s insistence on ending the blockade and refusing to move forward under Washington’s conditions should be seen as part of the larger, continuing struggle against imperialism. The liberation of the Cuban five, despite all the work that still needs to be done, represents a victory for people and communities all around the world fighting for justice and liberation.
[3]

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/world/remembering-horrible-things-america-did-cuba-over-past-6-decades

Links:
[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/emma-levine-nevel
[3] mailto:corrections@alternet.org?Subject=Typo on Remembering the Horrible Things

America Did to Cuba Over the Past 6 Decades

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - December 23, 2014 to January 15, 2015

17] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Dec. 23
18] No JHU Drone Research – Dec. 23
19] Film ROUND MIDNIGHT – Dec. 23
20] Christmas Celebration – Dec. 25
21] Vigil for peace at White House – Dec. 26
22] Vigil for Justice in Palestine – Dec. 26
23] Ballroom Dancing – Dec. 26
24] Olney Peace vigil – Dec. 27
25] West Chester, PA demo – Dec. 27
26] Silent peace vigil – Dec. 27
27] Protest at Drone War Command Center – Dec. 27
28] Go to Cuba – Jan. 5 to Jan. 15
29] Presents for the Animals – throughout December
30] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
31] Join Fund Our Communities
32] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
33] Do you need any book shelves?
34] Join Global Zero campaign
35] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale
36] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
----
17] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is Dec. 23. Call 215-426-0364.

18] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on Dec. 23 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

19] – At Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW, WDC, on Tues., Dec. 23 from 7 to 9:30 PM, join BloomBars and DC Moving Pictures, for a great jazz film by Clint Eastwood, ROUND MIDNIGHT! After the screening they'll have an audience discussion lead by Chris Rue, of DC Moving Pictures – a movie screening project dedicated to showcasing great movies and great filmmakers at local spaces in and around the District. The suggested donation is $10, and the proceeds support BloomBars. Have some free organic popcorn. BloomScreen Indie Film Night is a weekly series of independent and foreign films, accompanied by discussions with filmmakers, experts and other guests. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/883528631658434/?ref=6&ref_notif_type=plan_user_invited.

20] – There is a CHRISTMAS DAY COMMEMORATION at 4217 East-West Highway, Bethesda 20814 (at Shanti Yoga Center). This is A DAY OF PURIFICATION, MEDITATION and FRUGALITY, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ on Thurs., Dec. 25 starting at 6:30 AM. The final event begins at 4:45 PM. Email victor@theessenechurchofpeace.org.

21] – On Fri., Dec. 26 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contact Art @ artlaffin@hotmail.com or at 202-360-6416.

22] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia, across from Israeli Consulate. It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email cswartz@pil.net. Go to http://phillyjewishpeace.org/.

23] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Dec. 25. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

24] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. [Route 97] in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Dec. 27. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167.

25] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com.

26] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sat., Dec. 27. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to http://www.quaker.org/langleyhill/seekpeace.htm or email seekpeacevigil@yahoo.com.

27] – The Drone War Command Center in Horsham, PA is to be operational in 2015. The area is closer each day to being a place where remote-controlled killing will take place. Stand against drone warfare on Sat., Dec. 27 from noon to 2 PM. Protest the establishment of the Drone War Command Center at the Horsham Air Guard Station, Route 611/Easton Road and County Line Road, Horsham, PA. Contact Brandywine Peace Community at 610-544-1818 or go to www.brandywinepeace.com/events.

28] – Witness for Peace has organized a Cuba: Education Delegation from Mon., Jan.5 through Thurs., Jan. 15. The Delegation Coordinator is Dixie Olmstead (651-271-6558 or dixie_olmstead@yahoo.com). Visit www.witnessforpeace.org.

29] – Throughout December, the Maryland SPCA is collecting toys for the cats and dogs in the adoption center. The goal is to collect enough toys in one month to entertain the homeless animals in the shelter throughout the coming year by filling the sleigh! You can help by bringing new cat and dog toys and treats to the Maryland SPCA. Some of the toys the pets like best are Kongs, Buster Cubes, toy mice (without catnip) and plush squeaky toys. Having toys and treats in the shelter environment helps socialize pets, reduces stress and improves health.

Bring Presents for the Animals to the adoption center at 3300 Falls Rd., Baltimore 21211 or Project Adopt at White Marsh Mall (next to JCPennys). If you would like to donate a toy or treat but can't get to the MD SPCA, you can purchase from an Amazon and AmazonSmile wish list, and your item(s) will be shipped directly to the MD SPCA. Go to www.mdspca.org/amazonsmile. Visit www.mdspca.org/presents4pets.

30] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email: info@washingtonpeacecenter.org.

31] -- Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget. Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures. Go to www.OurFunds.org.

32] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

33] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

34] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: http://www.globalzero.org/sign-declaration. A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees. This is an historic window of opportunity. With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

35] -- WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5. To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637.

36] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to http://prop1.org; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Torture, Deny, Repeat: The CIA Never Learns

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/287-124/27461-torture-deny-repeat-the-cia-never-learns

(photo: John Moore/AFP)

Torture, Deny, Repeat: The CIA Never Learns

By Tim Weiner, Reuters
12 December 14

When the United States was attacked on 9/11, every member of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine services had a rule book on the conduct of interrogations. It was clear and concise.

It outlawed the following methods: “Torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment, or prolonged detention without charges or trial.” It was based on five decades of experience.

President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the leaders of the CIA threw out the rule book as they set out on their global crusade against terrorism. This was unwise.

Anyone who was in New York or Washington after 9/11 remembers the fear — every day, every night, every time the phone rang — that there would be another attack. I sat down with George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, not long after 9/11. The exhaustion, the fear — and the terror — that I saw in his eyes is an image I will never forget.

Fear trumped wisdom for the next seven years.

CIA Director John Brennan said on Thursday that some intelligence officers used “abhorrent” methods on the people they detained after the attacks. He said it was “unknowable” whether the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques — EITs, in CIA jargon, torture in plain English — yielded useful intelligence.
“We have not concluded that it was the use of EITs,” Brennan said, “… that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees.”

This much we know: The CIA threw out the rule book instructing its officers that torture does not work as a method of gathering intelligence. And out with the rule book went the agency’s institutional knowledge and hard-won wisdom.

During the Korean War, the CIA created clandestine prisons — the biggest was in the Panama Canal Zone — where suspected Russian double agents were injected with drugs and brutally interrogated. The agency gave four suspected North Korean double agents the same treatment in occupied Japan.

“Like Guantanamo,” a charter member of the CIA, Tom Polgar, told me in a 2005 interview. “It was anything goes.”

The CIA searched for many years for a magic potion — a truth serum that would draw confessions from incarcerated subjects, especially suspected enemy spies — using LSD, heroin, amphetamines and other “special techniques in CIA interrogations,” to quote from a 1952 CIA report.

The legendary CIA Director Allen Dulles approved an expanded program code-named ULTRA, in which, to cite one among many examples, seven prisoners at a federal penitentiary in Kentucky were dosed with LSD daily for 11 weeks. When the agency slipped the drug to an unsuspecting army civilian employee named Frank Olson, he jumped out of the window of a New York hotel.

All the subjects of these tests were human guinea pigs in the Cold War. They were expendable. The CIA destroyed most of the records of these tests. But a 1956 progress report described the continuing “planning of overseas interrogations” and new “special interrogation” techniques under research and development.

In 1964, the CIA secretly incarcerated Yuri Nosenko, a KGB defector, suspecting he knew something about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. With the approval of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the CIA threw Nosenko into a secret prison at the CIA’s training grounds in Virginia. As if in a Soviet gulag, under a single bare light burning 24 hours a day, Nosenko suffered psychological assault, physical hardship and solitary confinement for nearly four years.
CIA Director Richard Helms finally determined that the agency had kept an innocent man “in durance vile … against the laws of the United States.”

During the Vietnam War, thousands of enemy combatants were interrogated, often fatally, in search of intelligence under the CIA’s Phoenix program. But that search proved largely futile. Helms said the CIA “could not determine what was going on” inside the enemy’s camp. At the root of this failure was “our national ignorance of Vietnamese history, society and language,” Helms lamented. That was, in part, why the enemy won the war.

When Nosenko died in 2008, Clair George, a former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service, told the Washington Post that his incarceration had been “a terrible mistake.” But after all, George said: “You can’t be in the spy business without making mistakes.”

What, then, did we learn from our mistakes with “enhanced interrogation techniques” — or, if you prefer, torture?

The CIA had firmly rejected cruel and unusual punishment, Richard Stolz, chief of the clandestine service under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said in 1988 — “not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.” The CIA’s 1990s codes of conduct stated: “Inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers.”

I added the emphases for reasons that may be obvious. Former leaders of the CIA – and Cheney — insist that torture works.

That is false. The Senate report released Wednesday makes this painfully clear. It uses the CIA’s own records to make an irrefutable case. The report contains no great revelations about violations of the Geneva Convention in the CIA’s secret prisons, the “black sites.”

But it shows that the claim that torture worked is a delusion, and the insistence that it produced unique intelligence is a lie.

“The use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation,” the Senate report says. “Multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence … on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.”

This information comes from the CIA’s own records. And false intelligence is worse than no intelligence.

The report looks at 20 of the most prominent examples of “purported counterterrorism successes that the CIA has attributed to the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques.” In some of those cases, “there was no relationship between the cited counterterrorism success and any information provided by detainees.” In the rest of the 20 cases, “the CIA inaccurately claimed that specific, otherwise unavailable information was acquired from a CIA detainee ‘as a result’ of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.”

These are lies that CIA officers told to themselves, to one another and then repeated to their colleagues in the government of the United States.
We must leave the questions of deception for another day, but they begin with self-deception — a grave danger in the business of secret intelligence.

Better to conclude with two pieces of wisdom. One is something Helms told me a long time ago. He started out in the CIA in the very beginning, back in 1947, and served as director for seven years — until President Richard M. Nixon cut his throat, figuratively speaking, in 1972. Helms was talking about political assassination. Let’s forget about the laws of man and God and war, he said. It’s a practical question: If you try to kill their leaders, why shouldn’t they try to kill yours?

A professionally distinguished and highly intelligent former FBI counterterrorism agent, Ali H. Soufan, said much the same today on page one of The New York Times. His words broke my heart, hardened by six postings in Afghanistan. Soufan knows whereof he speaks: He witnessed, and warned against, the use of torture by the CIA in the darkest days of the black sites.

“We played into the enemy’s hands,” he said. “Now we have American hostages in orange jumpsuits because we put people in orange jumpsuits.”

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - December 16 - 18, 2014

18] Support the people of Bahrain – Dec. 16
19] Nuclear deal with Iran – Dec. 16
20] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Dec. 16
21] No JHU Drone Research – Dec. 16
22] Amy Goodman at Busboys – Dec. 16
23] Write prisoners, including Chelsea Manning – Dec. 16
24] "U.S. Nuclear Arms Control Policy" – Dec. 17
25] “U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Cooperation Negotiations" – Dec. 17
26] Improve cocoa farmers' livelihoods – Dec. 17
27] Stop Exelon – Dec. 17
28] Housing for All meeting – Dec. 17
29] Police brutality & Capitalism– Dec. 17
30] Black lives matter – Dec. 17
31] Celebrate CNED – Dec. 18
--
18] – Go to 3502 International Drive NW, WDC 20008 on Tues., Dec. 16 at noon and join activists in front of the Bahrain Embassy. Stand in solidarity with the Bahrain people! December 16th marks the day that the Bahraini ruling family was elevated to royal status with the coronation of Emir Isa bin Salman, the father to today's King of Bahrain. This self declared elevation took place four months after Bahrain achieved independence from the British Empire on August 15th, 1971. Instead of celebrating independence and self-determination, Bahrain National Day celebrates autocracy and oppression.

The people of Bahrain are still calling for a more representative government and have historically marked this day by engaging in pro-democracy protests. This is co-sponsored by the U.S. Foreign Policy Activist Cooperative, Society for Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs (SEPGA) at American University and Freedom House. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1422308001324982/?ref=6&ref_notif_type=plan_user_invited.

19] – On Tues., Dec. 16 from 1 to 2 PM, Larry Hanauer, RAND, takes on "Congressional Options and Their Likely Consequences for a Nuclear Deal with Iran." The presentation, sponsored by RAND, will take place in B 369 Rayburn House Office Building, WDC. RSVP http://www.rand.org/congress/activities/2014/12/16/registration.html.

20] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is Dec. 16. Call 215-426-0364.

21] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on Dec. 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

22] – Visit Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Sts. NW, WDC on Tues., Dec. 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM as WPFW welcomes award winning journalist, author, producer and host of "Democracy Now," Amy Goodman, for a reception. She will discuss current events and her book "The Silenced Majority." This is a fundraiser for radio station WPFW 89.3 FM, and tickets are $100. Call 202-588-0999 ext. 344 or email membership@wpfw.org.

23] – On Tues., Dec. 16 from 6 to 8 PM, join Amnesty International, black and pink and Casa Ruby at Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St. NW, WDC 20009, (14th and V Sts.). This event is being held as part of a week of Amnesty International's solidarity events with Chelsea Manning, whose birthday is on December 17th. Come together to write birthday cards to Manning and letters to the US government asking for her immediate release. Support the Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center, and send letters and holiday cards to members of the LGBTQ family in prison through black & pink.

AI will provide all card-making materials and specific instructions about what not to write or include in your mailing to ensure that it passes through to the other side. Feel free to bring your own materials. Enjoy soulful beats by DJ Ayescold. Refreshments will be provided. Email Noor at nmir@aiusa.org.

24] – On Wed., Dec. 17 from 10 to 11:30 AM, Rose Gottemoeller, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will examine "U.S. Nuclear Arms Control Policy" at the Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC 20036. RSVP at http://connect.brookings.edu/register-to-attend-nuclear-arms-gottemoeller.

25] – On Wed., Dec. 17 from noon to 1:30 PM, Scott Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations, will address "Breaking the Stalemate in U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Cooperation Negotiations" at Global America Business Institute, 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 435, WDC. RSVP to Christina Sookyung Jung at csjung@thegabi.com.

26] –Join the International Labor Rights Forum on Wed., Dec. 17 from 2 to 4 PM to explore how to improve cocoa farmers' livelihoods! Despite nearly two decades of projects aimed at improving education, increasing productivity, and implementing cocoa certification, farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire still make significantly less than $2 a day. Such meager earnings leave farmers vulnerable to even minor economic or climate shocks, and fuel abuses such as child labor and labor trafficking.

ILRF will release a report analyzing these trends and convene a panel discussion about how to change the cocoa industry for the better. The panel discussion A Fair Share for Cocoa Farmers: How to Foster a More Just Trade in Chocolate's Main Ingredient is taking place at the American Federation of Teachers, 4th floor conference room, 555 New Jersey Ave. NW, WDC, and will include Judy Gearhart, executive director, International Labor Rights Forum, Jeff Morgan, director of global programs, Mars Chocolate, Kevin Willcutts, deputy director, International Labor Affairs Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor and, as the facilitator, Marina Colby, senior counter-trafficking in persons fellow, Center for Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, USAID. RSVP at http://action.laborrights.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=13303.

27] – Join the Nuclear Information and Resource Service on Wed., Dec. 17 to fight the Exelon takeover & then get over to the party. NIRS is launching a new coalition--PowerDC--to oppose Exelon's takeover of Pepco in Washington, DC and mobilizing D.C. residents for the first public hearing. RSVP at http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50105/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=80213.

Gather at 5 PM at the Center for American Progress, 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor. There will be a press conference announcing the coalition at 5:30 PM. Then go downstairs to the Public Service Commission hearing at 6 PM. Afterward, everyone is invited to a party back at the Center for American Progress on the 10th Floor. There will be snacks and drink!

Exelon is the nation's largest nuclear power utility and it is foundering. It is also aggressively anti-wind power and other renewables. It wants to take over our local utility, Pepco, in order to be able to start paying dividends to its shareholders--who haven't been getting much in recent years--not to improve our electricity service or help DC become the leader in clean energy that so many have been working for. The DC Public Service Commission can block the merger (which would also affect Exelon’s takeover of Pepco in Maryland) simply by recognizing that it wouldn't be a good deal for DC ratepayers. The PSC needs to hear from all of us that we don't want Exelon in DC!

28] –On Wed., Dec. 17 at 6 PM, the third Wednesday of each month, help shape the Housing For All Campaign, be actively involved in your government, and help connect new people to affordable housing advocacy! Come to Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development, 1432 U St. NW (in the alley behind City First Bank), WDC. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP at http://www.cnhed.org/housing-for-all-campaign/.

29] – At the ECAC, 733 Euclid St. NW, WDC, on Wed., Dec. 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, come out and share some hot cocoa, tea and cookies as the All-African People's Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) discusses the relationship between capitalism and police terrorism. Of course, this is taking place in the wake of the recent killings of many African youth in the U.S. The party recognizes that police terrorism is a symptom of capitalism, and it is not an isolated issue that only impacts Africans in America. See http://www.aaprp-intl.org/event/capitalism-and-police-terrorism-family-affair-washington-dc-us.

30] – The Jewish community stands against police brutality. This Hanukkah some of them hope to dedicate themselves to making a world in which Black lives truly matter. Help amplify Black, Jewish and gentile voices and combat racism and the targeting of Black people. At the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW, WDC 20001, on Tues., Dec. 16 at 7 PM, bear witness, say Kaddish for the victims of police brutality, and light the first candle in hope and commitment to racial justice. Email rebecca@jufj.org. The evening is hosted by Jews United for Justice and Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. RSVP at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5483/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=72782.

31] – Celebrate the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development CNED at the Mead Center for American Theater at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, WDC, on Thurs., Dec. 18 from noon to 2 PM. Also meet the new executive director Stephen Glaude review of the 2014 accomplishments, look towards the goals in 2015, and vote for their board members.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Leaked Documents Show Mexico Authorities "Knew About Attack on Students as It Happened"

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/27538-leaked-documents-show-mexico-authorities-qknew-about-attack-on-students-as-it-happenedq

Activist wears photos of disappeared students. (photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Leaked Documents Show Mexico Authorities "Knew About Attack on Students as It Happened"

By Jo Tuckman, The Guardian
16 December 14

Leaked government documents say federal officials did nothing to stop disappearance and probable massacre of missing 43

Mexican federal authorities had real-time information of an attack on a group of student teachers by corrupt local police, but did nothing to stop the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 people, according to new evidence published by the news magazine Proceso.

Based on leaked government documents, the new allegations are likely to further fuel public anger at the government of the president, Enrique Peña Nieto, which has insisted that federal authorities share no responsibility for the students’ disappearance.

So far, 79 people have been arrested over the presumed massacre on 26 September: all are allegedly linked to a network of corrupt local politicians and police officers in the southern city of Iguala or members of a drug gang called Guerreros Unidos.

Parents of the missing students have long alleged that federal law enforcement institutions must have known what was happening and attacked them for not intervening. Scepticism over the government account of the massacre – and frustration with the sometimes haphazard federal response – has propelled a string of protests against the government in recent weeks.

The Proceso investigation is based on documents from an initial state-level investigation which was curtailed when federal authorities took over in early October. The Guardian has not been able to verify the magazine’s account.

The documents include a detailed record of the student’s movements made by a government information command post – known as a C4 – as the group left their college in Ayotzinapa in the town of Tixtla.

They were travelling by bus to Iguala, about two hours’ drive away, intending to commandeer more buses from the city to use in a later protest.

C4 (Control, Command, Communications and Computation) posts are run by state governments, but are charged with collecting and distributing information to all local and federal law enforcement agencies within a particular area.

According to the Proceso account, the C4 informed the head of the federal police unit stationed in Iguala when the students arrived at the city’s bus station at 9.22pm. About 20 minutes later, the C4 reported that gunfire had broken out, Proceso reported – the opening volleys of what turned into several hours of violence.

Anabel Hernández, one of the report’s authors, told MCS Noticias radio station: “When we see that the federal government and the state government were following the students since they left the college in Ayotzinapa, it becomes very difficult to think that everything else that happened was an accident.”

The most contentious claim in the story was that federal forces participated in the massacre itself – an allegation which has not been taken up by survivors of the attack.

Enrique Galindo, the head of the federal police, said there is no evidence that federal officers had participated in the events of the 26 September inside Iguala. But Galindo admitted that the 16 federal police officers stationed in the city were aware of the students’ movements as they approached Iguala.

“We knew, of course, because they were in buses and they were travelling on federal highways. That seems to me to be normal. It would be worse not to know,” Galindo said. “We did not participate inside the city.”

The report also questions the official version that Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca, ordered the attacks for fear the students would disrupt an event to promote his wife María de los Angeles Pineda’s political ambitions.

According to Proceso, the event finished at 8pm – more than an hour before the students reached Iguala.

Proceso’s allegations came days after a group of scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico raised further questions over the official version of events.

The attorney general, Jesús Murillo, says the students were detained by municipal police and then handed over to the Guerreros Unidos gang who killed them at a rubbish tip before burning their bodies. Such was the intensity of the fire, Murillo said, that the bodies were reduced to ashes and bone fragments.
In their report last week, the scientists said that evidence from the supposed crime scene did not support the theory of a mass funeral pyre.

The report by the scientists, released on 11 December, said that the pyre would have required 33 tons of logs, or nearly 1,000 tyres, to reduce 43 bodies to the remains presented as evidence by the attorney general. If tyres had been used, they said, this would also have left behind considerable amounts of metal.
Popular fury over the massacre – and recurring allegations of state involvement – have helped bring hundreds of thousands of protesters to a string of anti-government demonstrations over recent weeks.

About 21 people were hurt, including students, parents of missing students and federal police officers, after serious clashes broke out during a protest in Chilpancingo on Sunday.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Alarming Research Behind New York's Fracking Ban

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/27611-the-alarming-research-behind-new-yorks-fracking-ban


(photo: Flickr)

The Alarming Research Behind New York's Fracking Ban

By Nicholas St. Fleur, The Atlantic
21 December 14

The battle over untapped natural gas in New York State appears to have reached its end. Following an extensive public health review of hydraulic fracturing, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a complete ban on the oil and natural gas harvesting practice in the state on Wednesday.

The 184-page report, conducted by the New York State Department of Health, cites potential environmental impacts and health hazards as reasons for the ban. The research incorporates findings from multiple studies conducted across the country and highlights the following seven concerns:

• Respiratory health: The report cites the dangers of methane emissions from natural gas drilling in Texas and Pennsylvania, which have been linked to asthma and other breathing issues. Another study found that 39 percent of residents in southern Pennsylvania who lived within one kilometer of a fracking site developed upper-respiratory problems compared with 18 percent of those who lived more than two kilometers away.

• Drinking water: Shallow methane-migration underground could seep into drinking water, one study found, contaminating wells. Another found brine from deep shale formations in groundwater aquifers. The report also refers to a study of fracking communities in the Appalachian Plateau where they found methane in 82 percent of drinking water samples, and that concentrations of the chemical were six times higher in homes close to natural gas wells. Ethane was 23 times higher in homes close to fracking sites as well.

• Seismic activity: The report cites studies from Ohio and Oklahoma that explain how fracking can trigger earthquakes. Another found that fracking near Preese Hall in the United Kingdom resulted in a 2.3 magnitude earthquake as well as 1.5 magnitude earthquake.

• Climate change: Excess methane can be released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. One study predicts that fracking in New York State would contribute between 7 percent and 28 percent of the volatile organic compound emissions, and between 6 percent and 18 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the region by 2020.

• Soil contamination: One analysis of a natural gas site found elevated levels of radioactive waste in the soil, potentially the result of surface spills.

• The community: The report refers to problems such as noise and odor pollution, citing a case in Pennsylvania where gas harvesting was linked to huge increases in automobile accidents and heavy truck crashes.

• Health complaints: Residents near active fracking sites reported having symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, nosebleeds, and headaches according to studies. A study in rural Colorado which examined 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 found that those who lived closest to natural gas development sites had a 30 percent increase in congenital heart conditions. The group of births closest to development sites also had a 100-percent increased chance of developing neural tube defects.

In 2008, New York State suspended its fracking activities pending further research into the health, environmental, and economic effects. Since the moratorium six years ago, many different scientific groups have conducted hydraulic fracturing research, as the state’s report reflects.

"I asked myself, ‘would I let my family live in a community with fracking? The answer is no."

Howard Zucker, the acting state health commissioner who helped spearhead the report, addressed the ban with Gov. Cuomo in Albany. “I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Zucker, according to The Wall Street Journal. He added, “I asked myself, ‘would I let my family live in a community with fracking? The answer is no,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

But Cuomo and Zucker’s critics were quick to blast the ban, which they say will cost the state millions in jobs and energy. Dean Skelos, the Republican co-leader of the New York State Senate, said the move was shaped by politics, not science. “The decision implies that at least 30 other states, Senator Schumer and the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency are wrong about the health impacts and do not care about the well-being of millions of American citizens,” he said in a statement. Others have lashed against Zucker’s comments about not letting his family live in a fracking community despite not having children.

Zucker also voiced concern over how little is known about the long-term effects of injecting water and chemicals into the Marcellus shale, the disputed natural gas reserve that has been the subject of debate in New York and elsewhere. The new report, he said, highlights gaps in the current scientific understanding of fracking’s impact on groundwater resources, air quality, radon exposure, noise exposure, traffic, psychosocial stress, and injuries.

“The bottom line is we lack the comprehensive longitudinal studies, and these are either not yet complete or are yet to be initiated," Zucker said according to The Syracuse Post-Standard. "We don't have the evidence to prove or disprove the health effects. But the cumulative concerns of what I've read gives me reason to pause."

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Top 5 Groundbreaking Movements That Rocked the Boat in 2014

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)

AlterNet [1] / By Alyssa Figueroa [2]

Top 5 Groundbreaking Movements That Rocked the Boat in 2014

December 18, 2014 |

2014 was an unjust year to say the least. From corporations pursuing control of the Internet to cops getting away with murder, the last 12 months were certainly filled with oppression. But that doesn’t mean people didn’t fight back. There was plenty of resistance from activists across the country pushing for change.
Here is a countdown of the top five groundbreaking movements that rocked the boat this year.

5. The fight for net neutrality rages on. In January 2014, a court decision ruled in favor of Verizon, which had challenged the Federal Communication Commission’s ability to enforce net neutrality. The decision has sparked a yearlong fight to demand an Internet that is open and equal for all. Protesters set up camp [3] outside FCC headquarters and followed up months later with actions [4] in multiple cities after word got out that the FCC was considering a shoddy solution.

But the most effective use of people power was illustrated by citizens’ responses to the commission. The FCC website even crashed [5]at one point following a hilarious plea by John Oliver to flood the site with comments. In the end, the FCC received a record of 3.7 million responses. In an analysis of the first 800,000, only one percent [6] were against net neutrality. The FCC will likely make a decision on net neutrality at the beginning of 2015.

4. The year of minimum wage victories. The federal minimum wage remains a measly $7.25—a 25 percent decrease in worth since it peaked in 1968. Workers have had enough. People across the nation came together to make 2014 an historic year for minimum wage victories. Both Seattle [7] and San Francisco [8] passed the country’s highest minimum wage bills that will phase in $15. The Chicago City Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13, and voters in Oakland passed a November ballot initiative raising the wage to $12.25. Four red states also passed [9] minimum wage increases during the midterm elections. Early in the year, President Obama raised the minimum wage to $10.10 for all 2 million federally contracted workers.

Low-wage workers are playing a crucial role in sparking a national conversation around fair pay and labor practices. Fast-food workers continued strikes [10] throughout the year, holding their largest action [11] this December with workers in 190 cities participating. Walmart workers also took to the streets for various direct actions, including their third and largest Black Friday strike to date. (Walmart CEOannounced [12] plans to raise workers' wages so that no worker makes the federal minimum wage.) And federally contracted workerswalked off [13] their jobs, insisting that $10.10 is not enough.

3. The struggle for ending deportations sees success. Dubbed by some as the “deporter-in-chief,” Obama has deported 2 million undocumented immigrants during his time in office, more than any other president in history. For years, organizers have called for an end to deportations, and their actions certainly didn’t slow down this year. Instead, organizers with Not1More [14], one of the most influential campaigns in the immigrant rights movement, held sit-ins, stopped deportation buses and went on hunger strikes.

Locally, immigrant rights groups nationwide worked on ending [15] the Secure Communities program, in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works together with local law enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants. More than 140 local jurisdictions have passed ordinances or executive orders stating that they will no longer comply with the program. In November, Obama announced plans to shield about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, a huge success for the movement. The movement plans to continue its fight [16] to end deportations for all.

2. The world erupts in support of Palestinians. After Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in July, the global community erupted in support of Palestinians facing terror. Images of dead Palestinians, bombed hospitals and schools, and a city demolished outraged people worldwide. Israel killed [17] more than 2,100 Palestinians in a few short weeks, including 519 children. About 50,000 people rallied [18] in South Africa, 20,000 rallied in London, and hundreds in Paris defied [19] a protest ban to demonstrate. In the U.S., thousands took to the streets in New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco and other major cities. Jewish activists against the war on Gaza, like one group that organized a sit-in [20] at the NYC office of the Friends of Israel Defense Forces, were also very vocal. In Palestine, tens of thousands in the West Bank marched [21] to Jerusalem in protest.
Activists on the West Coast held one of the most powerful protests in defiance of Israel’s occupation of Palestine when they successfullyblocked [22] an Israeli ship from docking on the coast. These “Block the Boat” actions were part of a larger boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to hit Israel where it economically hurts. Organizers in Oakland, CA, continued these actions, including one in October, when a ship was forced [23] to sail all the way to Russia to unload.

1. Police killings spark Black Lives Matter movement. After Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, the town exploded, spurring a global call for racial justice. The young black protesters in Ferguson sustained actions for weeks on end, forcing Americans to confront the racism and injustice that plague our country. They also exposed the world to the ruthless results of police militarization in the U.S., as they faced tanks, tear gas and rubber bullets.

After the grand jury investigating the case decided not to indict Wilson in November, huge protests broke out nationwide [24] again, with actions in more than 150 cities. A week later, a grand jury similarly decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner, despite the fact that Pantaleo’s use of a banned chokehold was caught on tape. From NYC to Tokyo, people across the world [25] held actions calling for justice and supporting the message that black lives matter.

As well as taking over the streets, young black activists are experimenting [26] with different tactics to stop “business as usual.” Nationwide, they have interrupted speeches, shut down public transportation systems and major highways, interrupted holiday shoppers, and shut down a police department. Activists have also incited national conversations on the meaning of violence as well as how non-black allies can show solidarity with the movement. They are forming groups focused on long-term organizing to be sure the world will be hearing from them for years to come. The Black Lives Matter movement has defined 2014 as the beginning of a political moment that could truly transform America’s lethal combination of deeply rooted racism and police violence.
[27]

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/activism/top-5-groundbreaking-movements-rocked-boat-2014

Links:
[1] http://alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/alyssa-figueroa
[3] http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/protesters-set-camp-net-neutrality-rally-outside-fcc-headquarters
[4] http://www.alternet.org/activism/net-neutrality-advocates-protest-fccs-hybrid-solution-dozens-cities
[5] http://www.alternet.org/media/john-olivers-hilarious-net-neutrality-plea-crashes-fcc-website
[6] http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/get-ready-big-internet-slowdown
[7] https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.alternet.org%2Factivism%2Fhow-seattle-fought-15-and-won&ei=_BCSVPjMD4H-ggSbooSIBg&usg=AFQjCNGcUroPL6u_84m6t8vVCWhjvyukJw&bvm=bv.82001339,d.eXY
[8] http://admin.alternet.org/labor/how-san-francisco-won-strongest-minimum-wage-country
[9] http://www.alternet.org/election-2014/10-bright-spots-election?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark
[10] http://www.alternet.org/activism/more-400-arrested-growing-fast-food-workers-movement-strikes-living-wage-unionization
[11] http://www.alternet.org/activism/fast-food-workers-and-other-low-wage-employees-strike-190-cities-today
[12] http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/12/10/walmart-ceo-doug-mcmillon-well-do-away-with-minimum-wage-pay-in-new-year/
[13] http://www.alternet.org/activism/we-cant-do-it-1010-new-rosies-walk-their-jobs
[14] http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/the-history-of-the-not1more-campaign/
[15] http://www.alternet.org/immigration/not-following-rules-cities-and-states-refuse-enforce-federal-immigration-regulations?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark
[16] http://www.alternet.org/immigration/immigration-activist-obamas-executive-actions-too-many-may-be-left-out
[17] http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/032/2014/en/613926df-68c4-47bb-b587-00975f014e4b/mde150322014en.pdf
[18] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/09/gaza-protest-march-london-raise-funds-victims-conflict-israel-palestine
[19] http://www.alternet.org/activism/pro-palestinian-protesters-rally-across-france-defying-ban-demonstrations?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark
[20] http://www.alternet.org/activism/not-our-name-jewish-activists-arrested-sit-friends-israel-defense-forces-nyc-office
[21] http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/25/turning_point_largest_west_bank_protest
[22] http://www.alternet.org/activism/why-activists-are-blocking-israeli-ship-docking-west-coast
[23] https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/31/block-boat-work-middle/
[24] http://www.alternet.org/activism/shopping-malls-football-stadiums-ferguson-solidarity-protests-continue-nationwide
[25] http://www.alternet.org/activism/exploding-protest-movement-goes-national-citizens-demand-end-era-brutal-racist-policing?page=0%2C1
[26] http://www.alternet.org/activism/8-developments-black-lives-matter-movement-most-people-dont-know-about
[27] mailto:corrections@alternet.org?Subject=Typo on Top 5 Groundbreaking Movements That Rocked the Boat in 2014

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Day I Saw 248 Girls Suffering Genital Mutilation

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/27605-the-day-i-saw-248-girls-suffering-genital-mutilation

Midwives wait for the next girl to be brought in for circumcision in Bandung, Indonesia. (photo: Stephanie Sinclair/VII)

The Day I Saw 248 Girls Suffering Genital Mutilation

By Abigail Haworth, Guardian UK

20 December 14

In 2006, while in Indonesia and six months pregnant, Abigail Haworth became one of the few journalists ever to see young girls being 'circumcised'. Until now she has been unable to tell this shocking story It's 9.30am on a Sunday, and the mood inside the school building in Bandung, Indonesia, is festive. Mothers in headscarves and bright lipstick chat and eat coconut cakes. Javanese music thumps from an assembly hall. There are 400 people crammed into the primary school's ground floor. It's hot, noisy and chaotic, and almost everyone is smiling.

Twelve-year-old Suminah is not. She looks like she wants to punch somebody. Under her white hijab, which she has yanked down over her brow like a hoodie, her eyes have the livid, bewildered expression of a child who has been wronged by people she trusted. She sits on a plastic chair, swatting away her mother's efforts to placate her with a party cup of milk and a biscuit. Suminah is in severe pain. An hour earlier, her genitals were mutilated with scissors as she lay on a school desk.

During the morning, 248 Indonesian girls undergo the same ordeal. Suminah is the oldest, the youngest is just five months. It is April 2006 and the occasion is a mass ceremony to perform sunat perempuan or "female circumcision" that has been held annually since 1958 by the Bandung-based Yayasan Assalaam, an Islamic foundation that runs a mosque and several schools. The foundation holds the event in the lunar month of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and pays parents 80,000 rupiah (£6) and a bag of food for each daughter they bring to be cut.

It is well established that female genital mutilation (FGM) is not required in Muslim law. It is an ancient cultural practice that existed before Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is also agreed across large swathes of the world that it is barbaric. At the mass ceremony, I ask the foundation's social welfare secretary, Lukman Hakim, why they do it. His answer not only predates the dawn of religion, it predates human evolution: "It is necessary to control women's sexual urges," says Hakim, a stern, bespectacled man in a fez. "They must be chaste to preserve their beauty."

I have not written about the 2006 mass ceremony until now. I went there with an Indonesian activist organisation that worked within communities to eradicate FGM. Their job was difficult and highly sensitive. Afterwards, in fraught exchanges with the organisation's staff, it emerged that it was impossible for me to write a journalistic account of the event for the western media without compromising their efforts. It would destroy the trust they had forged with local leaders, the activists argued, and jeopardise their access to the people they needed to reach. I shelved my article; to sabotage the people working on the ground to stop the abuse would defeat the purpose of whatever I wrote. Such is the tricky partnership of journalism and activism at times.

Yet far from scaling down, the problem of FGM in Indonesia has escalated sharply. The mass ceremonies in Bandung have grown bigger and more popular every year. This year, the gathering took place in February. Hundreds of girls were cut. The Assalaam foundation's website described it as "a celebration". Anti-FGM campaigners have proved ineffective against a rising tide of conservatism. Today, the issue is more that I can't not write about that day.

By geopolitical standards, modern Indonesia is an Asian superstar. The world's fourth-largest country and most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people, it is beloved by foreign investors for its buoyant economy and stable democracy. It is feted as a model of tolerant Islam. Last month, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited London to receive an honorary knighthood from the Queen in recognition of Indonesia's "remarkable transformation". Yet, as befitting an archipelago of 17,000 islands, it's a complicated place, too. Corruption and superstition often rule by stealth. Patriarchy runs deep. Abortion is illegal, and hardline edicts controlling what women wear and do are steadily creeping into local by-laws.

Although Indonesia is not a country where FGM is widely reported, the practice is endemic. Two nationwide studies carried out by population researchers in 2003 and 2010 found that between 86 and 100% of households surveyed subjected their daughters to genital cutting, usually before the age of five. More than 90% of adults said they wanted the practice to continue.

In late 2006, a breakthrough towards ending FGM in Indonesia occurred when the Ministry of Health banned doctors from performing it on the grounds that it was "potentially harmful". The authorities, however, did not enforce the ruling. Hospitals continued to offer sunat perempuan for baby girls, often as part of discount birth packages that also included vaccinations and ear piercing. In the countryside, it was performed mainly by traditional midwives – women thought to have shamanic healing skills known as dukun – as it had been for centuries. The Indonesian method commonly involves cutting off part of the hood and/or tip of the clitoris with scissors, a blade or a piece of sharpened bamboo.

Last year, the situation regressed further. In early 2011, Indonesia's parliament effectively reversed the ban on FGM by approving guidelines for trained doctors on how to perform it. The rationale was that, since the ban had failed, issuing guidelines would "safeguard the female reproductive system", officials said. Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama, also issued an edict telling its 30 million followers that it approved of female genital cutting, but that doctors "should not cut too much".
The combined effect was to legitimise the practice all over again.

It is impossible to second-guess what kind of place holds mass ceremonies to mutilate girl children, with the aim of forever curbing their sexual pleasure. Bandung is Indonesia's third largest city, 180km east of the capital Jakarta. I had been there twice before my visit in 2006. It was like any provincial hub in booming southeast Asia: a cheerful, frenzied collision of homespun commerce and cut-price globalisation. Cheap jeans and T-shirts spilled out of shops. On the roof of a factory outlet there was a giant model of Spider-Man doing the splits.

Bandung's rampant commercialism had also reinvigorated its moral extremists. While most of Indonesia's 214 million Muslims are moderate, the 1998 fall of the Suharto regime had seen the resurgence of radical strains of Islam. Local clerics were condemning the city's "western-style spiritual pollution". Members of the Islamic Defenders Front, a hardline vigilante group, were smashing up nightclubs and harassing unmarried couples.

The stricter moral climate had a devastating effect on efforts to eradicate FGM. The Qur'an does not mention the practice, and it is outlawed in most Islamic countries. Yet leading Indonesian clerics were growing ever more insistent that it was a sacred duty.

A week before I attended the Assalaam foundation's khitanan massal or mass circumcision ceremony, the chairman of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia, the nation's most powerful council of Islamic leaders, issued this statement: "Circumcision is a requirement for every Muslim woman," said Amidhan, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name. "It not only cleans the filth from her genitals, it also contributes to a girl's growth."

It was early, before 8am, when we arrived at a school painted hospital green in a Bandung suburb on the day of the ceremony. Women and girls clad in long tunics were lining up outside to register. It was a female-only affair (men and boys had their own circumcision gathering upstairs), and the mood was relaxed and sisterly. From their sun-lined faces and battered sandals, some of the mothers looked quite poor – poor enough, possibly, to make the foundation's 80,000 rupiah cash handout as much of an enticement as the promise of spiritual purity.

Inside, I was greeted by Hdjella, 57, a teacher and midwife who would supervise the cutting. She was wearing a pink floral apron with a frilly pocket. She had been a traditional midwife for 32 years, she said, although, like most dukun, she had no formal training.

"Boy or girl?" she asked me, brightly. I was almost six months pregnant at the time.

"Boy," I told her.

"Praise Allah."

Hdjella insisted that the form of FGM they practised is "helpful to girls' health". She explained that they clean the genitals and then use sterilised scissors to cut off part of the hood, or prepuce, and the tip of the clitoris.

"How is this helpful to girls' health?" I asked. "It balances their emotions so they don't get sexually over-stimulated," she said, enunciating in schoolmistress fashion. "It also helps them to urinate more easily and reduces the bad smell."

Any other benefits? "Oh yes," she said, with a tinkling laugh. "My grandmother always said that circumcised women cook more delicious rice."

FGM in Indonesia is laden with superstition and confusion. A common myth is that it is largely "symbolic", involving no genital damage. A study published in 2010 by Yarsi University in Jakarta found this is true only rarely, in a few animist communities where the ritual involves rubbing the clitoris with turmeric or bamboo.

While Indonesia doesn't practise the severest forms of mutilation found in parts of Africa and the Middle East, such as infibulation (removing the clitoris and labia and sewing up the genital area) or complete clitoral excision, the study found the Indonesian procedure "involves pain and actual cutting of the clitoris" in more than 80% of cases.

Hdjella took me to the classroom where the cutting would soon begin. The curtains were closed. Desks had been covered in sheets and towels to form about eight beds. Around each one, three middle-aged women wearing headscarves waited in readiness. Their faces were lit from underneath by cheap desk lamps, giving them a ghoulish glow. There were children's drawings and multiplication tables on the walls.

The room filled up with noise and people. Girls started to cry and protest as soon as their mothers hustled them inside. Rapidly, the mood turned business-like. "We have many girls to circumcise this morning, about 300," Hdjella shouted above the escalating din. As children were hoisted on to desks I realised with a jolt: this is an assembly line.

Hdjella led me to a four-year-old girl who was lying down. As the girl squirmed, two midwives put their faces close to hers. They smiled at her, making soft noises, but their hands took an arm and a leg each in a claw-like grip. "Look, look," Hdjella commanded, as a third woman leant in and steadily snipped off part of the girl's clitoris with what looked like a pair of nail scissors. "It's nothing, you see? There is not much blood. All done!" The girl's scream was a long guttural rattle, which got louder as the midwife dabbed at her genitals with antiseptic.

In the dingy, crowded room, her cries merged with the sobs and screeches of other girls lying on desks, the grating sing-song clucking of the midwives, the surreally casual conversational hum of waiting mothers. There was no air.

Outside in the courtyard, the festive atmosphere grew as girls and their mothers emerged from the classroom. There were snacks and music, and later, prayers.
Ety, 40, was elated. She had brought her two daughters, aged seven and three, to be cut. "I want them to be teachers. Being circumcised will bring them good luck," she said. Ety was a farmer who came from a village outside Bandung. "Daughters should be pure and obey their parents."

Neng Apip, 28, was smiling radiantly. She said she was happy her newly cut daughter Rima would now grow up into "a good Muslim girl". Rima, whose enormous brown eyes were oozing tears, was nine months old. Apip kissed her and gave her a rice cracker to suck. "Shh, shh, all better now," she cooed.

Tradition is usually about remembering. In the case of FGM in Indonesia it seems to be a cycle of forgetting. The act of cutting is a hidden business perpetrated by mothers and midwives, nearly all of whom underwent FGM themselves as young children. The women I met had little memory of being cut, so they had few qualms about subjecting their daughters to the same fate. "It's just what we do," I heard over and over again.

When the pain subsides, it is far from all better. The girls in the classroom don't know that removing part of their clitoris not only endangers their health but reflects deep-rooted attitudes that women do not have the right to control their own sexuality. The physical risks alone include infection, haemorrhage, scarring, urinary and reproductive problems, and death. When Yarsi University researchers interviewed girls aged 15-18 for their 2010 study, they found many were traumatised when they learned their genitals had been cut during childhood. They experienced problems such as depression, self-loathing, loss of interest in sex and a compulsive need to urinate.
I saw my interpreter, Widiana, speaking to Suminah, the 12-year-old who was the oldest girl there, and went to join them. Suminah said she didn't want to come. "I was shaking and crying last night. I was so scared I couldn't sleep." It was a "very bad, sharp pain" when she was cut, she said, and she still felt sore and angry. Widiana asked what she planned to do in the evening. "We will have a special meal at home and then read the Qur'an," said Suminah. "Then I will listen to my Britney Spears CD."

Back in Jakarta, an Indonesian friend, Rino, agreed to help me find out about the newborn-girl "package deals" at city hospitals. Rino phoned around Jakarta's hospitals. They told him he must see a doctor to discuss the matter. So we decided that is what we would do: since I was visibly pregnant, we'd visit the hospitals as husband and wife expecting our first baby. ("It's not necessary to bring your wife," Rino was told repeatedly when he rang back to book the appointments.)

We visited seven hospitals chosen at random. Only one, Hermina, a specialist maternity hospital, said it did not perform sunat perempuan. The other six all gave package prices, varying from 300,000 rupiah to 550,000 rupiah (£20-£36), for infant vaccinations, ear piercing and genital cutting within two months of birth.

Interestingly, the only doctor who argued against the procedure was a female gynaecologist from the largest Islamic government hospital, the Rumah Sakit Islam Jakarta. "You can have it done here if you wish," the doctor said with a sigh. "But I don't recommend it. It's not mandatory in Islam. It's painful and it's a great pity for girls."

Last month I spoke to Andy Yentriyani, a commissioner at Indonesia's National Commission on Violence Against Women. Yentriyani told me the problem is now worse than ever. Since the government's guidelines on FGM came into effect last year, more hospitals have started offering the procedure.

"Doctors see the guidelines as a licence to make money," she says. "Hospitals are even offering female circumcision in parts of Sumatra where there has never been a strong tradition of cutting girls."

"They are creating new demand purely for profit?"

"Yes. They're including it in birth packages. People don't really understand what they're signing up for." Nor do some medical staff, she adds. The new guidelines say doctors should "make a small cut on the frontal part of the clitoris, without harming the clitoris". But Yentriyani says that most doctors are trained only in male circumcision, so they follow the same principle of slicing off flesh.

Moreover, according to The Jakarta Post, the guidelines were rushed through partly in response to the deaths of several infant girls from botched FGM procedures at hospitals.

Likewise, Yentriyani says, the recent endorsement of FGM by some Islamic leaders has vindicated those carrying out mass cutting ceremonies, such as the Assalaam foundation. "Women are caught in a power struggle between religion and state as Indonesia finds a new identity," the activist explains. "Clamping down on morality, enforcing chastity, returning to so-called traditions such as female circumcision – these things help religious leaders to win hearts and minds."

Yentriyani and other Indonesian supporters of women's rights believe FGM can never be justified as a religious or cultural tradition. "Our government and religious leaders must condemn it outright as an act of violence, otherwise it will never end," she says. Her view is supported by organisations such as Amnesty International, which has called on Indonesia to repeal its guidelines allowing FGM. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also weighed in, saying in February this year that, although many cultural traditions must be respected, female genital cutting is not one of them. "It is, plain and simply, a human rights violation," Clinton declared.

Suminah will be 18 now; a grown woman. She could well be married, or at least betrothed. Soon enough she will probably have her own kids. I hope she's forgotten her pain, but held on to her rage.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Meet Alfreda Bikowsky, the Senior Officer at the Center of the CIA's Torture Scandals

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/27609-meet-alfreda-bikowsky-the-senior-officer-at-the-center-of-the-cias-torture-scandals

Jessica Chastain in 'Zero Dark Thirty.' (photo: Snap Stills/Rex Features)

Meet Alfreda Bikowsky, the Senior Officer at the Center of the CIA's Torture Scandals

By Glenn Greenwald and Peter Maass, The Intercept
20 December 14

BBC News yesterday called her a “key apologist” for the CIA’s torture program. A follow-up New Yorker article dubbed her “The Unidentified Queen of Torture” and in part “the model for the lead character in ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’” Yet in both articles she was anonymous.

The person described by both NBC and The New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted — even by some within the agency.

The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, Bikowsky has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.

The executive summary of the torture report released by the Senate last week provides abundant documentation that the CIA repeatedly and deliberately misled Congress about multiple aspects of its interrogation program. Yesterday, NBC News reported that one senior CIA officer in particular was responsible for many of those false claims, describing her as “a top al Qaeda expert who remains in a senior position at the CIA.”

NBC, while withholding her identity, noted that the same unnamed officer “also participated in ‘enhanced interrogations’ of self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, witnessed the waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah and ordered the detention of a suspected terrorist who turned out to be unconnected to al Qaeda, according to the report.”

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer, writing yesterday about the NBC article, added that the officer “is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.” This officer, Mayer noted, is the same one who “dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.” Mayer also wrote that the officer is “the same woman” identified in the Senate report who oversaw “the months-long rendition and gruesome interrogation of another detainee whose detention was a case of mistaken identity.”

Both news outlets withheld the name of this CIA officer even though her identity is widely known among journalists, and her name has been used by various media outlets in connection with her work at the CIA. Both articles cited requests by the CIA not to identify her, even though they provided details making her identity clear.

In fact, earlier this year, The Washington Post identified Bikowsky by name, describing her as a CIA analyst “who was tied to a critical intelligence-sharing failure before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the botched 2003 ‘rendition’ of an innocent German citizen thought to be an al-Qaeda operative.” That Post report led to both McClatchy and independent journalist Marcy Wheeler raising questions about the propriety of Bikowsky’s former personal lawyer, Robert Litt, playing a key role in his current capacity as a top government lawyer in deciding which parts of the torture report should be released.

The McClatchy article identified Bikowsky by name as the officer who “played a central role in the bungled rendition of Khaled el-Masri. El-Masri, who was revealed to be innocent, claimed to have been tortured by the agency.” El-Masri, a German citizen who was kidnapped from Macedonia and tortured by the CIA in Afghanistan, was released in 2003 after it was revealed he was not involved in al Qaeda.

Back in 2011, John Cook, the outgoing editor of The Intercept, wrote an article at Gawker, based on the reporting of Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy, naming Bikowsky and pointing to extensive evidence showing that she “has a long (if pseudonymous) history of being associated with some of the agency’s most disastrous boondoggles,” including a key role in the CIA’s pre-9/11 failure to notify the FBI that two known al Qaeda operatives had entered the country.

Earlier that year, the Associated Press reported that a “hard-charging CIA analyst [who] had pushed the agency into one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism” (the rendering for torture of the innocent El-Masri) was repeatedly promoted. Despite internal recommendations that she be punished, the AP reported that she instead “has risen to one of the premier jobs in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.”

The article named her as “Frances,” explaining that the AP “agreed to the CIA’s request to refer to Frances by her middle name because her first is unusual.”

Bikowsky’s name, and her long string of controversial actions, have become such an open secret that she even has her own lengthy, detailed Wikipedia page. The entry describes her as a “career Central Intelligence Agency officer who has headed . . . the Global Jihad unit.”

In the months leading up to the release of the torture report, the CIA and the White House fought to prevent the Senate even from assigning pseudonyms to the CIA officers whose actions are chronicled in the report. The Senate ultimately capitulated, making it difficult to follow any coherent narrative about what these officers did.

As Mayer wrote in yesterday’s article:

Readers can speculate on how the pieces fit together, and who the personalities behind this program are. But without even pseudonyms, it is exceedingly hard to connect the dots. . . . [W]ithout names, or even pseudonyms, it is almost impossible to piece together the puzzle, or hold anyone in the American government accountable. Evidently, that is exactly what the C.I.A. was fighting for during its eight-month-long redaction process, behind all those closed doors.

Naming Bikowsky allows people to piece together these puzzles and hold American officials accountable. The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.

The CIA’s arguments focus on an undefined threat to her safety. “We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” a CIA spokesperson, Ryan Trapani, told The Intercept in an email. In a follow-up voicemail he added: “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.”

However, beyond Bikowsky, a number of CIA officials who oversaw and implemented the program have already been publicly identified—indeed, many of the key architects of the program, such as Jose Rodriguez, are frequent guests on news programs.

Trapani also argued that the Senate report is “based only upon one side’s perspective on this story” and that an article about Bikowsky “doesn’t require naming a person who’s never had a chance to rebut what’s been said about them.” When The Intercept asked for the CIA’s rebuttal—or Bikowsky’s—to the critical portrayal of her in the Senate report, Trapani declined to offer one. He noted that CIA Director John Brennan had disputed the report’s contention that the agency had misrepresented the value of the interrogation program.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Calls for 'Torture Team' Prosecutions Persist as Cheney Brags "I'd Do It Again"

commondreams.org/news/2014/12/15/calls-torture-team-prosecutions-persist-cheney-brags-id-do-it-again

Monday, December 15, 2014

Calls for 'Torture Team' Prosecutions Persist as Cheney Brags "I'd Do It Again"

'There is an almost criminal gang in our government's security agencies which is not subject to democratic accountability of any kind.'

Jon Queally, staff writer

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says violence perpetrated against American citizens amounts to torture, but that torture approved by himself and former President George. W. Bush is not "morally" equivalent to that kind of violence and should be applauded, not prosecuted. Human rights experts strongly disagree. (Image: Meet The Press/Screenshot)

Former vice president of the United States Dick Cheney told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday that he'd "do it again in a minute."

And what about President Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush? Said Cheney: "He authorized it. He Approved it."

"It would be comforting to dismiss Cheney as a historical oddity, to picture him sitting in the dimly lit room of a motel, changing the pitch of his voice to pretend he wasn’t alone. But he’s got company, and it’s dangerous." —journalist Amy Davidson

And what is the "it"? The torture of other human beings.

However, nearly a week after the partial release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture—despite a full-court media press from Cheney and others defending how the U.S. government employed gross human rights violations in the name of national security—the new calls for prosecutions into these admitted crimes continue.

For its part, the ACLU has put forth a five-point plan for accountability which includes appointment of a special prosecutor.

In a new op-ed over the weekend, Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director said the case for prosecuting those behind the torture program, though long overdue, has never been better.

"The argument for the appointment of a special prosecutor is straightforward," Jaffer argued. "The CIA adopted interrogation methods that have long been understood to constitute torture. Those methods were used against more than a hundred prisoners, including many – at least 29 – whom the CIA itself now recognizes should never have been detained at all."

"If we don’t hold our officials accountable for having authorized such conduct, we become complicit in it." —Jameel Jaffer, ACLU

As part of its renewed effort to push for prosecutions, the Center for Constitutional Rights has put forth a petition calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute the high-level government officials responsible for the torture. Appearing alongside social activist Frances Fox Piven on Melissa Harris-Perry's weekend show on MSNBC, CCR's executive director Vince Warren said we should not be having a conversation about whether torture "worked" or not, because torture—just like slavery and genocide—is among the "highest forms of crimes that people can commit against each other."

"This is why we need to be thinking about prosecution," Warren continued. "The only way to prevent torture and things like this from happening, is to prosecute the people who have done this. This isn't a question of values. This is a question of criminality."

From her perspective, Pivens said that torture is "morally reprehensible" but that there are also deeper issues at work when accountability is non-existent. "There is an almost criminal gang in our government's security agencies which is not subject to democratic accountability of any kind," she said. "And what they do has huge effects on the future of the United States and the future of the world. You can't look at these horrific acts and not wonder, at least, whether the experience of this kind of behavior at the hands of American agents doesn't have something to do with the rise of terrorist groups like ISIL."

Following Cheney's appearance on Meet The Press on Sunday, The New Yorker's Amy Davidson pilloried the former vice president, and other likes former CIA chief Michael Hayden, for continuing to parade about as though what they did to people in the name of the American people should be heralded. She wrote:

Basically, in Cheney’s world, nothing Americans do can be called torture, because we are not Al Qaeda and we are not the Japanese in the Second World War (whom we prosecuted for waterboarding) and we are not ISIS. “The way we did it,” as he said of waterboarding, was not torture. In other words, it was not really the Justice Department that “blessed,” or rather transubstantiated, torture; it was our American-ness. Is there an argument that could degrade that American identity more?

It would be comforting to dismiss Cheney as a historical oddity, to picture him sitting in the dimly lit room of a motel, changing the pitch of his voice to pretend he wasn’t alone. But he’s got company, and it’s dangerous. The way that many, including the present and former directors of the C.I.A., have responded to the Senate report has been shameless and sordid. (There have been exceptions, as Jane Mayer notes.) They have spent a lot of time complaining that the Agency hasn’t been sufficiently praised. The word “torture” upsets them.

Despite new admissions by Cheney and a televised press conference delivered by CIA director John Brennan last week, it remains unclear if the new demands for accountability, including criminal probes or charges, will actually result.

As the Associated Press reports Monday:

Department officials said they will not revisit their 2012 decision to close the investigation, citing among other challenges the passage of time and the difficulty of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed, especially in light of government memos that gave interrogators extraordinary latitude.

"Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed. Importantly, our investigation was not intended to answer the broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct," the department said in a statement after the report was released.

That conclusion followed an investigation led by special prosecutor John Durham that began in 2009 as an outgrowth of a probe into the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogation tactics. The inquiry into interrogation tactics came amid the release of an internal CIA inspector general's report that said CIA interrogators once threatened to kill the children of a Sept. 11 suspect and suggested that another suspected terrorist would be forced to watch his mother being sexually assaulted.

Durham specifically investigated potential crimes in the deaths of two detainees, including one who was shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison, while in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. In closing the investigation, the department said it had "reviewed a tremendous volume of information" about detainees alleged to have been in U.S. custody but did not find enough evidence to convict anyone.

As the ACLU's Jaffer argues, however, nothing about that investigation precludes a new and more aggressive attempt to achieve accountability for those who ordered, authorized, and carried out the program.

"If we don’t hold our officials accountable for having authorized such conduct, we become complicit in it," he said. "The prisoners were tortured in our names. Now that the torture has been exposed in such detail, our failure to act would signify a kind of tacit approval. Our government routinely imprisons people for far lesser offenses. What justification could possibly be offered for exempting the high officials who authorized the severest crimes?"

He concluded, "For the last decade, officials who authorized torture have been shielded from accountability for their acts. The Senate report makes it clear – indeed, it could not make it any clearer – that impunity for torture must now come to an end."

And as Davidson wrote, "if this past week has proved anything, it’s that the legacy of torture is not quiet repentance but impunity. [President Obama] has told his agents not to torture, and Brennan says he can work with that, while the C.I.A. waits for instructions from the next one."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - December 21 - 22, 2014

Baltimore Activist Alert December 21 – December 22, 2014

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center. Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com. If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

Tune into the Maryland Progressive Blog at http://mdprogblog.org.

1] Books, buttons & stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] “Homelessness, and Its Effects on Children” -- Dec. 21
6] HOLIDAY CONCERT – Dec. 21
7] Casa Baltimore/Limay OPEN HOUSE -- Dec. 21
8] National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day – Dec. 21
9] Remember Leslie Feinberg – Dec. 21
10] “Sunday Kind of Love” – Dec. 21
11] Pentagon Vigil – Dec. 22
12] Nurses on strike – Dec. 22 - 23
13] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Dec. 22 – 26
14] Get Money Out - Maryland meeting – Dec. 22
15] Pledge/FOC meeting – Dec. 22
16] Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem – Dec. 22

------
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Donate your books to Max. Call him at 410-366-1637.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/. Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq. To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net. Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale. For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html. The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month. Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered. Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or FrancineMSW@aol.com.

5] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On Dec. 21, the platform address is entitled “Homelessness, and Its Effects on Children” delivered by Dr. Tara Doaty-Mundell. She will explain how to build the children’s self-esteem and confidence in the face of challenges by drawing on her recent book, “Let’s Talk About It.” It is a collection of stories that highlights the journey to self-discovery that every child travels.

She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Howard University, and has obtained several certifications in evidence-based practices aimed at improving parent and child attachment and has over 13 years of experience working with parents and families. Dr. Doaty-Mundell has developed curricula aimed at healing family dynamics and a parenting curriculum, and also one for individuals in recovery from substance abuse. In 2012, she founded Sage Wellness Group, LLC, a consulting firm that provides specialized trainings and workshops for agencies on an array of topics for agency administration, staff, clients and families. The doctor resides in Baltimore with her husband and three children. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

6] – On Sun., Dec. 21 at 3:30 PM, enjoy a HOLIDAY CONCERT AT THE PEACE CENTER OF DELAWARE COUNTY, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, PA. 19064, with Keith Calmes, Classical Guitar Virtuoso. The free concert will be preceded by a reception with holiday cheer, treats, and craft sales at 2:30 PM. Also performing will be Bill Foley of Wallingford and Dean Maola, a Strath Haven High School junior with his jazz trio, and Alain Xiong-Calmes on cello. Special guest and area favorite, singer-songwriter Tom Mullian will perform a couple of his recently recorded peace songs. Visit www.delcopeacecenter.org or call 610-544-1818.

7] – On Sun., Dec. 21 come to a Casa Baltimore/Limay OPEN HOUSE from 3 to 7 PM at the new office location, 2743 Maryland Ave., Baltimore 21218. Drop by to socialize, have some refreshments, and browse last-minute holiday gifts. Available are beautiful paintings, pottery, carved soapstone, and clothing. Or call 410-662-6292 to make an appointment to browse at another time.

8] -- For over two decades on the first night of winter and the longest night of the year, communities across the country have gathered to commemorate National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. Members of Baltimore's Stop Homelessness And Reduce Poverty (SHARP) Coalition, the Coalition for Homeless Children and Families, and the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative (BHYI) invite you to a Memorial Service to honor the lives of community members who experienced homelessness and passed away this year. It occurs on Sun., Dec. 21 at 5 PM in the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, Baltimore 21202. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1566733173540313/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&sid_reminder=7445627623557824512.

9] – On Sun., Dec. 21 at 5 PM at Baltimore Workers World Party, 2011 N. Charles St., 1st Floor, Baltimore 21218, honor and pay tribute to Leslie Feinberg, an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, who died on Nov. 15. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease. Leslie revolutionized the understanding of trans oppression by using revolutionary Marxist analysis that traced the roots of LGBTQ oppression to women's oppression. There will be eulogies given by comrades of Leslie that knew her for over 40 years in the struggle. Leslie's books will be for sale at the memorial. See the obituary written by her wife Minnie Bruce Pratt for the Workers World newspaper: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/11/18/leslie-feinberg/. Call 443-221-3775. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1499130813708815/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming.

10] -- “Sunday Kind of Love” is a monthly open mic that features emerging and established poets from the Washington, D.C. area and around the nation, which will take place at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St. NW, WDC 20009, on Sun., Dec. 21 from 5 to 7 PM. It will be hosted by Sarah Browning and Katy Richey, and this open mic will feature Sam Taylor & Joshua Weiner. An open mic segment will follow their readings. Visit http://www.busboysandpoets.com/events/info/get-tickets.

11] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop. The next vigil is Mon., Dec. 22, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649. The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro. By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr., and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM. No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr.

12] – Gather at 110 Irving St., WDC, on Mon., Dec. 22 at 7 AM until Tues., Dec. 23 at 7 AM to support registered nurses at Medstar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC) during the one-day strike. The strike was announced due to unfair labor practices committed by hospital executives and their refusal to fairly address matters of health, safety and equity for patients and nurses. Medstar Washington Hospital Center management received 10 days advance notice from the National Nurses United to postpone elective surgeries, transfer out any patients as needed, and make other preparations needed. Go to http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/entry/registered-nurses-at-medstar-washington-hospital-center-set-one-day-strike/.

13] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday from 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at www.weaa.org. The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to steinershow@gmail.com. All shows are also available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org.

14] – Get Money Out - Maryland [GMOM] is trying to pass the resolution for The Democracy Amendment. And it will support other laws and policies that minimize the influence of money and strengthen the power of individual citizens in the political process. The Anne Arundel County GMOM chapter is meeting on Mon., Dec. 22 at 7 PM at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library, 269 Hillsmere Dr., Annapolis 21403. Contact Wylie Burge at wylieburge {at} gmail.com. Go to http://www.getmoneyoutmd.org/.

15] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore usually meets on Mondays at 7:30 PM, and the meetings take place at Max’s residence. The next meeting will be on Mon., Dec. 22. The proposed agenda will include anti-drone activities, including getting a resolution passed in Baltimore’s City Council, the CIA’s admission that the killer drone program is a failure, no fracking in New York, preparing for legislation in Annapolis, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, a march from the EPA to the Pentagon, lobbying Rep. Sarbanes and a talk about ISIS. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at verizon.net for directions.

16] – Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem this Christmas and Hanukah at 7:30 PM on Mon., Dec. 22 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 4 East University Parkway, Baltimore--corner of University Parkway and North Charles St. Parking and entrance to the cathedral is on North Charles St. Contact Charles Cloughen, Jr., Interfaith Peace Partners, coordinator, at ccloughen@episcopalmaryland.org or 410-321-4545.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs