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NEW YORK – In an important ruling affecting the public’s access to records regarding the cases of Guantánamo detainees, a federal court today denied a government motion to seal unclassified information related to those cases. Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, citing a “First Amendment and common law right to access” judicial records, ruled that the government cannot suppress unclassified documents and must seek court approval to seal specific information.
The following can be attributed to Jonathan Hafetz, attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
“Today’s decision is a victory for transparency. For far too long, the government has succeeded in keeping information about Guantánamo secret, and used secrecy to cover-up illegal detention and abuse. The decision marks an important step towards restoring America’s open court tradition that is essential to both accountability and the rule of law.”
“We need to protect our industrial infrastructure, as I’ve said many times before, so that we are using these factories to built the things that we need — bullet trains, light rail, alternative energy, cleaner buses — things that society needs in the 21st century. … We have to kill GM in order to save it. … They’ve planned their own obsolescence by helping to destroy the middle class …” — Michael Moore on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Monday, June 1st, 2009
I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.
As I sit here in GM’s birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?
Israeli settlers pour cement to rebuild a house which was destroyed by Israeli forces in an illegal outpost next to Kokhav Ha Shahar settlement in the West Bank.
‘Peace Now’ a watchdog group, says nearly half of the land where zealous settlers have put up settlements is usurped private Palestinian property.
At least 44 percent of the land in the West Bank where the wildcat settlements are built belong to private Palestinian owners, Peace Now said on Sunday.
Although the international community considers all Israeli settlements illegal, Israel makes a distinction between those authorized by the government and the so-called wildcat outposts, set up by zealous settlers without state approval.
On Friday, court-watchers received some deeply depressing news — 33 pages of unconstitutional hogwash directed at the Supreme Court by President Obama’s Justice Department (PDF), in which no stone of dubious legality was left unturned in the administration’s desperate and unprincipled attempts to mimic its predecessors by preventing 17 Uighurs at Guantánamo from being resettled in the United States. Continue reading →
Transparency And Accountability Critical To Upholding The Rule Of Law
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NEW YORK – The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings called for a special prosecutor to investigate the policies and practices that have led to unlawful deaths and other abuses in the United States’ international operations. In a report made public late yesterday, Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said there have been “chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct that led to alleged unlawful killings.”
Alston’s report also highlights issues of unlawful deaths within the U.S. for which the government may be responsible, including flaws in the death penalty system that increase the likelihood that innocent people will be executed and deaths in immigration detention.
The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program:
The hour is late. You seem bent on an orchestrated bankruptcy for General Motors on June 1, 2009. Before any irreversible moves are made– the GM/task force reorganization plan should be submitted to Congress for deliberative review and decision. There are several major concerns with a precipitous bankruptcy declaration that have emerged over the last several days.
First, the previously understood rationale for bankruptcy—namely obstinate bondholders–no longer applies. Recent developments indicate that GM and the auto task force have revised the proposed allocation of equity in a restructured GM, and reached agreement with at least the most prominent bondholders. Although a June 1 bond payment is due, it certainly seems that that payment could easily be wrapped into the new bondholder offer, as effectively will be the case if GM enters bankruptcy.
The Telegraph of London broke the news – because the US press is in a drugged stupor — that the photos Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner. The paper claims the photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and lightsticks. Major General Antonio Taguba calls the images `horrific’ and `indecent’ (but absurdly agrees that Obama should not release them – proving once again that the definition of hypocrisy is the assertion that the truth is in poor taste).
Predictably, a few hours later the Pentagon issues a formal denial.
Torture is a violation of US and international law. Yet, president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, on the basis of legally incompetent memos prepared by Justice Department officials, gave the OK to interrogators to violate US and international law.
The new Obama administration shows no inclination to uphold the rule of law by prosecuting those who abused their offices and broke the law.
Cheney claims, absurdly, that torture was necessary in order to save American cities from nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Many Americans have bought the argument that torture is morally justified in order to make terrorists reveal where ticking nuclear bombs are before they explode.
However, there were no hidden ticking nuclear bombs. Hypothetical scenarios were used to justify torture for other purposes.
This afternoon the President held a one-on-one meeting, and then an expanded meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, read the President’s opening remarks when they spoke to the press together afterwards:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody. Well, it is a great pleasure to welcome President Abbas to the Oval Office. We had — we just completed an extensive conversation, both privately as well as with our delegations, about how we can advance peace in the Middle East and how we can reaffirm some core principles that I think can result in Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in peace and security.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been a strong believer in a two-state solution that would provide the Israelis and Palestinians the peace and security that they need. I am very appreciative that President Abbas shares that view. And when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here last week I reiterated to him that the framework that’s been provided by the road map is one that can advance the interests of Israel, can advance the interests of the Palestinian people, and can also advance the interests of the United States.
There are periods in the history of every nation that define its character and reveal who is really running the government and its social and financial institutions. In the US, one of those periods, of which there are so many, was the political witch hunt that occurred during the 1950s. Known as the era of McCarthyism, this was a time in which the civil rights of anyone with leftist political leanings were violated through a series of tormented public persecutions. During McCarthyism, thousands of law- abiding citizens were blacklisted and thus unable to find work. Among this group, numerous families were torn asunder, divorces sharply increased, and multiple suicides were reported.
The era of McCarthyism, one of many dark epochs of US history, clearly demonstrates that the political forces running the government were conservatism and right wing extremism. They are the very same elements that are tearing the nation and the world asunder today. Men like then Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Ronald Reagan were manifestations of the syndrome of right wing extremism. Their fanatical neocon progeny are making the world a dangerous place today.
“I almost went down on my knees to beg [President] Herbert Hoover to veto the asinine Hawley-Smoot Tariff.”…“That Act intensified nationalism all over the world.” — Thomas Lamont, banker and economic adviser, June 1930
“Now is a time where we have to be very careful about any signals of protectionism.” –President Barack Obama, February 19, 2009
“From the purely economic point of view nothing speaks against free trade and everything against protectionism.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), Austrian economist
When the economy is booming, foreign borrowings and imports of goods and services from other countries are most welcome. They allow for more spending without inflation and they raise living standards. It is a version of having your cake and eating it too. In an economic downturn, however, the political reflex of populist politicians is to turn protectionist and to become economic isolationists by raising trade barriers. In such an environment, foreign competition becomes a convenient scapegoat for the crisis, even though the causes of such crisis are most often purely domestic in nature.