In a critical case which could determine the future of “preventive detention” in the U.S., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft can be sued for arresting Muslims as material witnesses as a pretext for investigating their possible links to terrorism. The 2 to 1 ruling (all three judges were Reagan or Bush appointees) is a setback for hardliners in the Bush administration who maintain that the state has the right to circumvent the 4th amendment and imprison “suspects” without establishing probable cause. Judge Milan Smith–a George W. Bush appointee–reproached Ashcroft’s conduct in an eloquent defense of the Constitution and basic civil liberties:
“Almost two and a half centuries ago, William Blackstone, considered by many to be the preeminent pre-Revolutionary War authority on the common law, wrote:
‘To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom. But confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten; is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” (WILLIAM BLACKSTONE)
In Sao Paolo, Brazil, over August 17-19, Green Left Weekly journalists Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes, together with journalists from Marea Socialista (Venezuela) and Alternativa Socialista (Argentina) spoke to Gilberto Rios, from the National Popular Resistance Front against the Coup in Honduras (FN).
Center for Economic and Policy Research
George Washington University – Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program
1 hour, 21 minutes
Washington, DC, United States
Deposed Honduran President Zelaya spoke about the political situation in Honduras and U.S.-backed efforts to negotiate a solution to the turmoil caused by a coup that had ousted him from power. He spoke about his plans to return and called on the United States to match its strong words of condemnation for the coup with actions. In his remarks he urged the Obama administration to cut off tens of millions of dollars in assistance to the de facto government and freeze the visas and assets of those involved in plotting his overthrow. Following his speech he answered questions from the audience. In Spanish with voiceover translation.
The war in Afghanistan today hangs like some cloud of poison gas over Washington that won’t blow away. It sickens everything as it spreads. It continues to suck precious tax dollars out of the Treasury, money this country cannot afford to squander, especially as millions of Americans are sinking into poverty and joblessness exceeds ten percent. Writing in USA Today last March 10th, Susan Page reported, “In one year, 24 million slide from ‘thriving’ to ‘struggling’ and “Some fear that the American dream may be in peril as well.” Worse, the U.S. is turning poverty-plagued Afghanistan, a long-suffering nation of 25 million souls into another Iraq, perhaps even another Viet Nam. Afghanistan has already been under U.S. assault for eight years and President Obama’s top military advisers are telling him it will take many more years to achieve “victory,” a term having utterly no meaning for skyrocketing numbers of dead and dismembered civilians.
After NATO pledged 5,000 more troops for the war in Afghanistan at its sixtieth anniversary summit In Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany this April, U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the commitment as representing “a strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan and on the future of NATO.”
The Alliance offer was in addition to Obama’s own vow to deploy 21,000 more American forces to the war-wracked nation where the U.S. is waging its longest war since that in Vietnam and NATO is fighting the first ground and first Asian war in its history. A conflict that will enter its ninth calendar year next month.